Durham v. Seymour
161 U.S. 235 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Durham v. Seymour, 161 U.S. 235 (1896)

Durham v. Seymour

No. 769

Submitted January 13, 1896

Decided March 2, 1896

161 U.S. 235

Syllabus

As a claim of invention, made in an application for a patent, is a right incapable of being ascertained and valued in money, no appeal lies to this court from a judgment of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, affirming the decision of the Supreme Court of the District that the applicant was not entitled to a decree, under Rev. Stat. § 4915, authorizing the Commissioner of Patents to issue a patent to him for his alleged invention.

This was a bill brought by Caleb W. Durham, under the provisions of section 4915 of the Revised Statutes, in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, to obtain a decree authorizing the Commissioner of Patents to issue a patent to him for an improved drainage apparatus for buildings. The supreme court adjudged on the evidence that Durham was not entitled to a decree, and dismissed the bill, whereupon he carried the case by appeal to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and that court affirmed the decision of the court below. From this decree an appeal was taken to this Court and a motion was made to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction.

Section 4915 is as follows:

"Whenever a patent on application is refused either by the Commissioner of Patents or by the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia upon appeal from the commissioner, the applicant may have remedy by bill in equity, and the court having cognizance thereof, on notice to adverse parties and other due proceedings had, may adjudge that such applicant is entitled, according to law, to receive a patent for his invention, as specified in his claim, or for any part thereof, as the facts in the case may appear. And such adjudication, if it be in favor of the right of the applicant, shall authorize the commissioner to issue such patent on the applicant filing in the Patent Office a copy of the adjudication, and otherwise complying with the requirements

Page 161 U. S. 236

of law. In all cases where there is no opposing party, a copy of the bill shall be served on the commissioner, and all the expenses of the proceeding shall be paid by the applicant, whether the final decision is in his favor or not."

Section 8 of the act establishing the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, and for other purposes, approved February 9, 1893, 27 Stat. 434, c. 74, provides:

"SEC. 8. That any final judgment or decree of the said Court of Appeals may be reexamined and affirmed, reversed, or modified by the Supreme Court of the United States upon writ of error or appeal in all causes in which the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, shall exceed the sum of five thousand dollars, in the same manner and under the same regulations as heretofore provided for in cases of writs of error on judgments or appeals from decrees rendered in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, and also in cases, without regard to the sum or value of the matter in dispute, wherein is involved the validity of any patent or copyright, or in which is drawn in question the validity of a treaty or statute of or an authority exercised under the United States."

The Act of March 3, 1885, 23 Stat. 443, c. 355, reads thus:

"That no appeal or writ of error shall hereafter be allowed from any judgment or decree in any suit at law or in equity in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia or in the Supreme Court of any of the territories of the United States unless the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, shall exceed the sum of five thousand dollars."

"SEC. 2. That the preceding section shall not apply to any case wherein is involved the validity of any patent or copyright or in which is drawn in question the validity of a treaty or statute of or an authority exercised under the United States; but in all such cases an appeal or writ of error may be brought without regard to the sum or value in dispute. "

Page 161 U. S. 237

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