Commercial Manufacturing Co. v. Fairbank Canning Co.
135 U.S. 176 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Commercial Manufacturing Co. v. Fairbank Canning Co., 135 U.S. 176 (1890)

Commercial Manufacturing Company v. Fairbank Canning Company

No. 253

Argued and submitted April 11, 1890

Decided April 21, 1890

135 U.S. 176




Reissued letters patent No. 10,137, granted June 13, 1882, to the Commercial Manufacturing Company, Consolidated, for an improvement in treating animal fats, the original patent, No. 146,012, having been granted December 30, 1873, to Hippolyte Mege, as inventor, expired by the expiration in April, 1876, of a Bavarian patent, and in May, 1876, of an Austrian patent, granted to Mege for the same invention.

The question of the identity of the United States patent with the Bavarian and the Austrian patents considered.

In equity. The case is stated in the opinion.

MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a suit in equity brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, on the 11th of December, 1882, by the Commercial Manufacturing Company, Consolidated, a New York corporation, and the National Dairy Company, an Ohio corporation, against the Fairbank Canning Company, an Illinois corporation, for the infringement of reissued letters patent No. 10,137 granted June 13, 1882, on an application filed May 20, 1882, to the Commercial Manufacturing Company, Consolidated, for an improvement in treating animal fats. The original patent, No. 146,012, was granted December 30, 1873, having been applied for December 13 1873, to Hippolyte Mege, as inventor.

Page 135 U. S. 177

it was assigned to the United States dairy company, and was reissued to that company as No. 8,424, September 24, 1878. That reissue was then assigned to one Remsen, who assigned it to the Commercial Manufacturing Company, Consolidated, to which reissue No. 10,137 was granted. The National Dairy Company was the exclusive licensee for the State of Illinois, in which state the infringement was alleged to have taken place.

The answer set up, among other defenses, that the United States patent had expired before the last reissue thereof was granted, by reason of the expiration of certain foreign patents granted to Mege for the same invention; that the last reissue was invalid, and that the defendant did not infringe.

So much of the specification of reissue No. 10,137 as is important in the present case is as follows:

"Be it known that Hippolyte Mege, of Paris, France, now deceased, chemist manufacturer, did invent an improved means for transforming animal fat into butter, of which the following is a specification:"

"This invention, which is the result of physiological investigations, consists of artificially producing the natural work which is performed by the cow when it reabsorbs its fat in order to transform the same into butter. The improved means he employed for this purpose are as follows:"

"I. Neutralization of the ferments. In order to prevent the greasy substance which is settled in the tissue of the animals from taking the disagreeable taste of the fat, it is necessary that the ferments which produce this taste shall be completely neutralized. For this effect, as soon as possible after the death of the animal, he plunged the raw fats, called 'graisses en branches,' into water containing fifteen percent of sea salt and one percent of sulphite of soda. He began thus the transformation an hour at least, after the immersion, and twelve hours at most, afterwards."

"II, Crushing. A complete crushing is necessary in order to obtain rapid work without alteration. For this purpose, when the substance is coarsely crushed, he let it fall from the cylinders under millstones, which completely bruise all the cells. "

Page 135 U. S. 178

"III Concentrated Digestion. The crushed fat falls into a vessel which is made a well tinned iron or enameled iron or baked day. This vessel must be plunged in a water bath, of which the temperature is raised at will. When the fat has descended in the vessel, he melted it by means of an artificial digestion, so that the heat does not exceed 103

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