Crescent Brewing Co. v. Gottfried - 128 U.S. 158 (1888)

U.S. Supreme Court

Crescent Brewing Co. v. Gottfried, 128 U.S. 158 (1888)

Crescent Brewing Co. v. Gottfried

No. 35

Argued October 19, 22-23, 1888

Decided November 5, 1888

128 U.S. 158


Claim 1 of letters patent No. 42,580, granted May 3d 1864, to J. F. T. Holbeck and Matthew Gottfried, for an "improved mode of pitching barrels," namely, "The application of heated air under blast to the interior

Page 128 U. S. 159

of casks by means substantially as described, and for the purposes set forth," is a claim to an apparatus, and is void for want of novelty.

The process carried on by means of the apparatus was not new as a process.

The case of Lawther v. Hamilton, 124 U. S. 1, considered and explained.

In respect to the apparatus, the patentees at most, merely applied an old apparatus to a new use.

Claim 2 of the patent held not to have been infringed.

Tuts was a suit in equity brought in March, 1881, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Indiana, by Matthew Gottfried against the Crescent Brewing Company, founded on the alleged infringement by the defendant of letters patent No. 42,580, granted May 3d 1864, to J. F. T. Holbeck and Matthew Gottfried, for an "improved mode of pitching barrels."

The specification, claims, and drawings of the patent were as follows:

"Be it known that we, J. F. Th. Holbeck and Matthew Gottfried, both of Chicago, County of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented a new and useful improvement in pitching barrels, etc., and we do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, making a part of this specification, in which"

"Figure 1 is a longitudinal section taken in a vertical plane through the center of the apparatus which we employ in the operation of pitching barrels, etc. Figure 2 is a horizontal section taken in the course indicated by red line x x in figure 1. Figures 3 and 4 are views of the tabular closing guard which is applied to the barrels or casks in the operation of heating them. Similar letters of reference indicate corresponding parts in the several figures."

"Before filling casks with spirituous or volatile liquids, it is necessary to render the casks impervious to air, the most common and probably the cheapest method of doing which has been to flow melted pitch or other substance into the pores and joints of the casks while they are in a heated state, but the difficulties hitherto attending this process arise in consequence of a want of some economical means of heating the

Page 128 U. S. 160

casks without burning or seriously charring their inside surfaces."

"My invention has for its object the preparation of casks for receiving pitch or other melted substance suited to the object in view by subjecting said casks to blasts of highly heated air by means of an apparatus which will be hereafter described. To enable others skilled in the art to understand our invention, we will describe its construction and operation."

"In the accompanying drawings, we have represented one mode of carrying our invention into effect, which consists of a furnace constructed of masonry, as represented by A, figures 1 and 2. This furnace is of a rectangular form, and has a vertical central opening, A', through it. Near the base of the furnace is a grate, a, beneath which is the ash-pit, b, and above which is a fire chamber, c, which is covered by a lid, c', as shown in figure 1."

"An opening, d, is made through the side of furnace, A, which forms an external communication with an internal chamber, A', either below the grate or above this grate, as shown in figure 1. This opening, d, communicates with a fan case, B, arranged outside of the furnace and furnished with a series of rotary wings or fans, e e, which may be rotated by any convenient motive power. The fans, e e, create a blast of air through the furnace chamber, A'. This air, rushing through the opening, d, and through the fire which is built upon the grate, a, is allowed to escape through the passage, d', near the top of the furnace. Between this passage, d', and the cask which it is desired to heat, I form a communication by means of a detachable pipe, E, which connects with a short pipe, E', that is secured around the passage, d', as shown in figures 1 and 2. The removable pipe, E, may be made conical, as represented, so that the opening through the head of the cask, D, need not be very large, and this pipe is provided with a bow handle, g, by means of which the pipe can be removed or adjusted in place without liability of burning the hands. The contracted end of pipe, E, enters a short tube, h, which passes through and is suitably affixed to a covering plate, i, that is

Page 128 U. S. 161

used to close or partially close the opening, j, which is made through the head of the cask. This plate, i, should be somewhat larger than the opening through the head of the cask, and this opening should be of such form as to admit plate, i, and to allow of this plate being adjusted, as represented in"


"figure 1. When this plate, i, is adjusted on the inner side of the cask head, opposite the openings therethrough, it may be confined in place by means of a key, k, which is passed between a flange formed on the projecting outer portion of the short pipe, h, and the head of the cask, as represented in figures 1 and 2. "

Page 128 U. S. 162

"When a cask which it is desired to render impervious to air is adjusted in proper position, and a communication formed between it and the furnace, A, as above described, a fire is made upon the grate, a, and by means of the blast fan applied to the furnace the heated products of combustion are forced into the cask, and allowed to escape therefrom through an opening at the bottom of covering plate, i, as indicated by the arrows in figure 1."

"When the cask thus subjected has become properly heated so that the resin substance within it will readily flow into the pores and cracks or joints in the wood, the parts, i and E, are removed, the opening through the head of the cask properly closed, and the cask rolled about until the melted resin has permeated every pore and interstice in its inside surface."

"Having thus described our invention, what we claim as new and desire to secure by letters patent is"

"1st. The application of heated air under blast to the interior of casks, by means substantially as described, and for the purposes set forth."

"2d. The use of a removable conductor, E, in combination with a furnace and blowing apparatus, arranged and operated substantially as described."

"3d. The tube-holding plate, i, in combination with the removable pipe, E, and blast-furnace, A, substantially as and for the purposes described."

Infringement is alleged only of claims 1 and 2.

The defendants put in an answer to the bill, a replication was filed, and proofs were taken on both sides. The issue of novelty and patentability was warmly contested. The principal matters relied on in the proofs to show want of novelty in the invention were English letters patent No. 6,901, granted to C. P. Devaux, October 8, 1835; English letters patent No. 9,924, granted to Davison and Symington, November 2, 1843; English letters patent No. 12,918, granted to Cochrane and Slate, January 3, 1850; a description found in a volume entitled "Tomlinson's Cyclopedia of Useful Arts, London & New York, 1854." Vol. II, Ham-Zir, p. 665, and figure 2,015, the thing described being known as the "Pewterer's

Page 128 U. S. 163

Blast;" a description found in a volume published at Braunschweig, in 1854, called "Handbuch fur Bierbrauer," at 116 to 118; the Seibel machine, first used early in 1857, and a description contained in a volume published at Leipsic, in Germany, in 1861, called "Der Bierbrauer," at 138 et seq.

In January, 1882, the circuit court, held by Judge Gresham, delivered an opinion in which it was held that the bill must be dismissed, on the ground that the patent was void for want of novelty. Gottfried v. Crescent Brewing Co., 9 F. 762. The anticipations especially considered in the opinion of Judge Gresham were the Cochrane and Slate patent, the Seibel machine, and the "Bierbrauer" publication of 1861. A rehearing appears to have been had of the case, and in September, 1882, Judge Gresham delivered an opinion, Gottfried v. Crescent Brewing Co., 13 F. 479, holding that he had given undue importance to the Cochrane and Slate patent, the Seibel apparatus, and the German publication, and that the patent was sustainable as a patent for mechanism. An interlocutory decree was entered in October, 1882, holding the patent to be valid as to claims 1 and 2 and to have been infringed as to those claims, and referring it to a master to take an account of profits and damages. On the report of the master, a final decree was entered in favor of the plaintiff in December, 1884, for a money recovery. 22 F. 433. From that decree the defendant has appealed to this Court.

Page 128 U. S. 165

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