Smith v. Whitman Saddle Co.
148 U.S. 674 (1893)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Smith v. Whitman Saddle Co., 148 U.S. 674 (1893)

Smith v. Whitman Saddle Company

No. 188

Argued and submitted March 28, 1893

Decided April 17, 1893

148 U.S. 674

Syllabus

Where a new and original shape or configuration of an article of manufacture is claimed in a patent issued under Rev.Stat. § 4929, its utility is an element for consideration in determining the validity of the patent. Gorham Manufacturing Co. v. White, 14 Wall. 511, distinguished.

The test of identity of design in the invention covered by such a patent is the sameness of appearance to the eye of an ordinary observer.

The saddle the design for which is protected by letters patent No. 10,844, issued September 24, 1878, to Royal E. Whitman for an improved design for saddles, was made by taking the front half of a saddle previously

Page 148 U. S. 675

known as the Granger tree, and the rear half of a saddle known as the Jenifer or Jenifer-McClellan saddle, changing the Granger tree part so as to have a perpendicular drop of some inches at the rear of the pommel.

In view of this previous condition of the art, the new and material thing protected by those letters patent was the sharp drop of the pommel at the rear, and they were not infringed by the saddles constructed by the plaintiffs in error.

The Whitman Saddle Company, a corporation organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of New York, brought this bill of complaint in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Connecticut, against Charles D. Smith and Benjamin A. Bourn, citizens of the State of Connecticut, and doing business in the City of Hartford, under the firm name and style of Smith, Bourn & Co., for the alleged infringement of a patent for a "design for saddles," No. 10,844, dated September 24, 1878.

The circuit court sustained the patent, adjudged that complainant was entitled to recover of the defendants as infringers, and rendered a decree perpetually enjoining them, and for an amount found due for profits, costs, charges, and disbursements, from which decree an appeal was taken to this Court. The opinion of Judge Shipman is reported in 38 F. 414.

The specification and claim are as follows:

"Be it known that I, Royal E. Whitman, of Springfield, Hampden County, State of Massachusetts, have invented an improved design for saddles, of which the following is a specification:"

"The nature of my design is fully illustrated in the accompanying photographic picture, to which reference is made."

"Figure I is a side profile view, and Fig. 2 a partial front view."

"The pommel, B, rises at the fork to a point on, or nearly on, a horizontal level with the raised and prolonged cantle. The pommel on its rear side falls nearly perpendicularly for some inches, when it is joined by the line forming the profile of the seat. The straight inner side of the pommel (marked b) is joined at c by the line, C, of the seat. The line, C, describes

Page 148 U. S. 676

a gradual curve to the center of the seat, from thence gradually rising to the highest point of the cantle, D. The cantle is defined in side profile by the lines, ef, starting from its outer end in continuous curves, which separate to define the thickness of the cantle before uniting at a point, g, near the center of the saddle, the line, f, forming the outside and rear edge of the saddle until joined by the line, h, which, leaving the line, f, at an angle, bends to form the rear bearing of the saddle. The line from the front of the pommel, B, inclines outward for some distance in a nearly straight line, m, before being rounded toward the rear to join the line, h, at the point where the stirrup strap is attached, to thus define the bottom line of the saddle, the outline given by line, m, from the pommel being the general form of the English saddletree known as the 'cut back.'"

"A plan view of the saddle shows a center longitudinal slot extending from pommel to cantle."

"I am aware that portions of the curves employed by me have been used in the designing of saddles, but when combined with a longitudinally slotted tree, the lines I employ to give the profile form a new design for saddles, and giving the general idea in the front, lower, and rear lines of a sea fowl or vessel modeled upon the same curves, and by these curves and lines giving the impression of lightness, grace, and comfort that could not as well be conveyed by any others, as the impression of comfort is given by the large amount of bearing surface obtained without undue elevation above the back of the animal, combined with the large seat for the rider, and lightness and grace by the small surface of tree shown in vertical plan, coupled with the form in which it is presented."

"Now having described my invention, what I claim is:"

"The design for a riding saddle, substantially as shown and described."

The following is the picture referred to:

Page 148 U. S. 677

image:a

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