Watson v. Cincinnati, I. & St.L. & C. Ry. Co.
132 U.S. 161 (1889)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Watson v. Cincinnati, I. & St.L. & C. Ry. Co., 132 U.S. 161 (1889)

Watson v. Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway Company

No. 48

Argued October 31, 1889

Decided November 13, 1889

132 U.S. 161

Syllabus

The improvement in grain car doors, as claimed by Chauncey R. Watson and patented to him by letters patent No. 203,226, dated April 30, 1818, may have been new and useful, but did not involve the exercise of the inventive faculty, and embraced nothing that was patentable.

In equity. The Court stated the case in its opinion as follows:

This was a bill filed by appellant against the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway Company, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Indiana, alleging an infringement of letters patent No. 203,226, granted to him for an improvement in grain car doors, bearing date the 30th day of April, 1878.

The complainant averred, in his bill, that the patent was intended to secure and did secure to him

"the sole and exclusive right to make, use, and sell a car for the transportation of grain and other freight, constructed substantially like an ordinary freight car, having an outside door for closing the car, and provided with an inside flexible or yielding sliding grain door, which is adapted to be carried up on guide rods or their equivalent overhead and out of the way and under the roof of the cars; that of such a car having an outside enclosing car door proper, in combination with an inside sliding flexible grain door, he was the first and original inventor,"

etc. These averments were denied in the answer, which also alleged that the thing patented in said patent, and every material or substantial part thereof, had been shown and described prior to Watson's supposed invention in various letters patent, fifteen in number, among them being a patent issued to Martin M. Crooker, May

Page 132 U. S. 162

26, 1868, and a patent issued to Horace L. C1ark, August 29, 1871, and further averred that the grain car doors, referred to in the bill as being on the cars of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company, were made under the Crooker patent, which was afterwards assigned to Dennis F. Van Liew, and it was with his license and consent that the cars were so equipped with said doors; that

"the only differences between said Crooker's doors and the complainant's are that Crooker's slide in grooves and have their slats fastened together by a continuous wire running through them, while complainant's slide on rods passing through staples, and are fastened together by ordinary hinges, both being inside doors, and, with the exception of the above differences, operating in substantially the same way; that complainant's door, as described in his patent, contains no patentable invention in view of the Crooker patent, nor is it any improvement thereon, nor in view of the state of the art was there any patentable novelty or invention therein."

The answer also denied any infringement of Watson's patent. Proofs having been taken, the bill was, upon hearing, dismissed, from which decree appeal was prosecuted to this Court. The opinion by Woods J., will be found reported in 23 F. 443.

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