Wright v. Yuengling
155 U.S. 47 (1894)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Wright v. Yuengling, 155 U.S. 47 (1894)

Wright v. Yuengling

No. 1

Argued October 9, 1894

Decided October 22, 1894

155 U.S. 47

Syllabus

Whether there was any novelty in the first claim in letters patent No. 144,818, issued November 18, 1873, to William Wright for an improvement in frames for horizontal engines, quaere.

Inasmuch as the semicircular connecting piece in that patented machine is described by the inventor as an essential feature of his invention and is made an element of claims 1 and 2, it must be regarded as such essential feature, and a device which dispenses with it does not infringe the patent.

When an invention is not a pioneer invention, the inventor is held to a rigid construction of his claims.

The second claim in the said patent is void for want of patentable novelty. The combination of the cylindrical guide with the trough in that machine is not a patentable invention.

This was a bill in equity for an injunction, and the recovery of damages for infringement of letters patent No. 144,818, issued November 18, 1873, to the plaintiff, Wright, for an improvement in frames for horizontal engines.

In his specification, the patentee stated the object of his invention to be the

"attainment of both lightness and strength in the construction of frames for horizontal engines, and at the same time to dispense with much of the fitting and other costly work demanded by the ordinary frames of engines of this class."

The following drawing exhibits the material parts of the

invention:

image:a

Page 155 U. S. 48

The patentee further stated that

"the extreme rear end of the frame, and forming part of the same, is the head, a, of the steam cylinder, A, and the portion of the frame which in ordinary engines is devoted to the usual flat slides consists of a hollow cylinder, b, arranged concentrically with the steam cylinder, and serving as a guide for the cross-head, the guiding cylinder being simply bored out to receive a cross-head, adapted to it in a manner which need not here be explained, as it forms no part of my present invention. There are lateral openings, ee, in this cylindrical guiding portion of the frame, in order that access may be had to the cross-head. . . . A semicircular connecting piece, d, merges at one end in the guiding cylinder, b, and at the other end in the cylinderhead, a, thus uniting the two, the open top of the said connecting piece permitting ready access to be had to the stuffing box of the cylinderhead."

"This combination in a horizontal engine frame of the guiding cylinder, b, cylinderhead, a, and connection, d, constitutes an especial feature of my invention. The cylinder, b, not only forms the main body of this portion of the frame, but serves at the same time as a cross-head guide, which can be readily prepared for service by the same bar which is used for boring out the cylinder."

"From the front of the guiding cylinder, b, to the point, x, where it meets the base, H, the frame is made in the form of an inclined concavo-convex trough, D, deep enough to permit the free movement of the connecting rod, and this trough, . . . on the line, 1 2, has one side, m, the upper edge of which is continued in a plane coinciding with the center of the cylinder, b, from the latter to the enlargement, n, for receiving the bearing of the crankshaft; the opposite side, p, of the trough, extending from the guiding cylinder, b, with a gradually descending curve to the base, H, into the upper portion of which it merges."

"A strengthening rib, q, extends along the upper edge of the side, p, of the trough-like connection, D, and is continued along the upper edge of the base, H, and also along the upper edge of the side, m, of the trough, and terminates at an extension

Page 155 U. S. 49

of the cylinderhead, a, and in order to add vertical strength to the frame a central web, t, extends from the base, H, to the cylinderhead, a, this web merging into the foot, w, which serves as one of the supports of the frame."

"In horizontal engines, there is necessarily an excessive lateral strain on the frame between the cross-head guides and the crankshaft. This strain is effectually resisted by the comparatively light, trough-like portion of the frame between the crankshaft and guiding cylinder."

His claims were as follows:

"1. A horizontal steam engine frame, in which a cylinder, b, for guiding the cross-head, is combined with the cylinderhead, a, and semicircular connecting piece, d, substantially in the manner described."

"2. The combination, in a horizontal engine frame, of the guiding cylinder, b, base, H, and trough-like connection, D."

"3. A horizontal engine frame, composed of the cylinderhead, a, guiding cylinder, b, connecting piece, d, trough, D, base, H, and web, t, all combined substantially in the manner described."

The answer set up the defenses of noninfringement and want of patentable novelty, by reason of certain prior patents.

Upon a hearing in the circuit court upon pleadings and proofs, the bill was dismissed upon these grounds, and defendant appealed.

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