Keeler v. Standard Folding Bed Co. - 157 U.S. 659 (1895)
U.S. Supreme Court
Keeler v. Standard Folding Bed Co., 157 U.S. 659 (1895)
Keeler v. Standard Folding Bed Company
Submitted March 20, 1894
Decided April 8, 1895
157 U.S. 659
One who buys patented articles of manufacture from one authorized to sell them at the place where they are sold becomes possessed of an absolute property in such articles, unrestricted in time or place.
Whether a patentee may protect himself and his assignees by special contracts brought home to the purchasers is not a question before the Court and upon which it expresses no opinion.
The complainants were assignees, for the Massachusetts, of certain letters patent granted to one Welch, for an improvement in wardrobe bedsteads. The Welch Folding Bed Company owned the patent rights for the State of Michigan. The defendants purchased a carload of said beds from the Welch Folding Bed Company at Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the purpose of selling them in Massachusetts, and afterwards sold them there and were still engaged in selling such beds in Boston. Held that the defendants, having purchased the patented articles in Michigan from the assignee of the patent for the territory included in that state, had a right to sell them anywhere within the United States, including Massachusetts, where the patent rights had been assigned to another assignee.
The previous cases bearing on this point considered and reviewed.
The Standard Folding-Bed Company, a corporation of the State of New York, filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Massachusetts a bill of complaint against Keeler & Bro., partners doing business in the City of Boston.
By an agreed state of facts, it appears that the complainants are assignees for the State of Massachusetts of certain letters patent granted to one Lyman Welch, for an improvement in wardrobe bedsteads; that the Welch Folding Bed Company own the patent rights for the State of Michigan, and that the defendants purchased a carload of said beds from the Welch Folding Bed Company at Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the purpose of selling them in Massachusetts, and they they afterwards sold and are now engaged in selling the said beds in Boston.
The conclusion in the court below was that the defendants were not protected from the claim of the Massachusetts assignee by having purchased the patented articles from the Michigan assignee, and accordingly there was an injunction and final decree in favor of the complainants, from which an appeal was taken to this Court.