White v. Rankin
144 U.S. 628 (1892)

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U.S. Supreme Court

White v. Rankin, 144 U.S. 628 (1892)

White v. Rankin

No. 259

Argued and submitted March 30, 1892

Decided April 18, 1892

144 U.S. 628

Syllabus

A bill in equity for the infringement of letters patent for an invention was in the usual form, and did not mention or refer to any contract with the defendants for the use of the patent. There was a plea setting up an agreement in writing between the plaintiff and one of the defendants to assign to him an interest in the patent on certain conditions, which it was alleged he had performed, and certain other matters which it was alleged had given the defendants a right to make, use, and sell the patented invention. The plea being overruled, the defendants set up the same defense by answer. To this there was a replication, and a stipulation in writing was entered into admitting that the defendants had made and sold articles containing the patented inventions and that a certain written agreement between the plaintiff and one of the defendants had been made to the purport before mentioned, and certain proceedings had been had in pursuance thereof. Thereupon the circuit court entered a decree dismissing the bill "for want of jurisdiction."

Held:

(1) The decree was erroneous, because the jurisdiction was clear on the face of the bill, and the circuit court did not decide the case on the facts contained in the stipulation, nor adjudicate on the legal effect of those facts, while it had jurisdiction to try the case.

(2) The cases of Wilson v. Sandford, 10 How. 99; Hartell v. Tilglaman,99 U. S. 547, and others explained,

(3) The circuit court ought to have proceeded to hear the case on the merits and the proofs put in.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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