Derby v. Thompson
146 U.S. 476 (1892)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Derby v. Thompson, 146 U.S. 476 (1892)

Derby v. Thompson

No. 40

Argued November 11, 14, 1892

Decided December 12, 1892

146 U.S. 476

Syllabus

The article claimed to be protected under the second claim in letters patent No. 224,923 issued February 24, 1880, to Joseph W. Kenna for a new and useful improvement in a combined child's chair and carriage, did not, with reference to the state of the art at the time, involve invention in the opinion of the majority of the Court; but all the judges concur in the opinion that the claim should receive a narrow construction, and, that, in this aspect of the case, the defendants' chairs did not infringe.

This was a bill in equity for the infringement of letters patent No. 224,923, issued February 24, 1880, to Joseph W. Kenna for a new and useful improvement in a combined child's chair and carriage.

The invention related to an article of furniture which, by a simple adjustment of the parts, may be converted from a child's high chair for use at a table to a child's carriage, and vice versa, as may be desired, and more particularly to the manner of connecting the chair to its supporting frame, and supporting it thereon. It consisted practically of an ordinary chair, B, with four legs, mounted when used as a high chair upon a

Page 146 U. S. 477

standard, A, also having four legs to correspond with those of the chair. The front legs of the chair were pivoted at their

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lower ends, D, upon the corresponding legs of the standard. Upon the rear legs of the standard there were pivoted at their

Page 146 U. S. 478

lower ends the arms of a bail, E, which turned up under the rear part of the chair and supported it by the aid of a catch, F, fastened to a crosspiece or rod between the two rear legs of the chair. When used as a carriage, the bail was unfastened from its catch, which allowed the rear of the chair to fall between the rear legs, a, of the standard. The front legs, a', of the standard assumed a horizontal position. The chair then rested upon four wheels, L, attached to crosspieces connecting the front and rear legs, and the bail served as a push handle for the carriage thus formed. By this adjustment, which is shown in the annexed drawings, the chair is converted into a wheel carriage, on which the child may be pushed by the aid of the bail from place to place.

The patentee says in his specification:

"In making these changes, it is not necessary to remove the child from the chair, for instead of tilting the chair back, as shown in Fig. 2 of the drawings, it may be held in an upright position, and the frame, A, tilted forward on its front standard until it assumes the position shown in Fig. 3 of the drawings, and in changing from the latter position to a chair the supporting frame may be titled upward and backward into the position shown in Fig. 2 of the drawings, while at the same time the chair is held in an upright position by the attendant."

The claim relied upon in this suit was the second, which was as follows:

"2. The frame, A, in combination with the bail, E, chair frame, B, pivoted at its lower front corners to the frame, A, and the yielding rest or support, F, substantially as described."

The case was defended upon the ground of want of novelty, and also of noninfringement. The court ordered a final decree for the plaintiff, 26 F. 299 and 32 F. 830, and the defendant was allowed an appeal to this Court.

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