International Postal Supply Co. v. Bruce
194 U.S. 601 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

International Postal Supply Co. v. Bruce, 194 U.S. 601 (1904)

International Postal Supply Company v. Bruce

No. 216

Argued April 13-14, 1904

Decided May 31, 1904

194 U.S. 601

Syllabus

Complainant as the owner of letters patent for a cancelling and postmarking machine brought suit against a postmaster to restrain him from using infringing machines which were in his post office used exclusively by his subordinates, employs of the United States, such use being in the service of the United States, the machines having been hired by the Post Office Department for a term not yet expired from the manufacturer at an agreed rental payable on the order of the Department by whose order they were placed and used in the post office.

Held that the suit was virtually one against the United States and the circuit court of the United States has not the power to grant an injunction against the defendant restraining the use of the machines pending the leased period.

Belknap v. Schild,161 U. S. 10, followed.

This case came before the Court on the following certificate for instructions:

"The complainant, as the owner of letters patent of the United States for new and useful improvements in stamp cancelling and postmarking machines, brought a bill in equity against the defendant, who is postmaster of the United States post office at Syracuse, New York, complaining of the use in said post office of two machines which infringe the complainant's letters patent, and praying for an injunction against the further use of said machines. The defendant never personally used any stamp cancelling and postmarking machines, but the use of said two machines in said post office at Syracuse is by some of defendant's subordinates, who are employees of the United States government, such use being in the service of the United States."

"The machines so used were hired by the United States Post Office Department for a term, which is, as yet, unexpired,

Page 194 U. S. 602

from the manufacturer and owner of said machines at an agreed rental, which is payable on the order of the Post Office Department, by whose orders said machines were placed in the Syracuse post office, and were and are now used there."

"And the said United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit further certifies that, to the end that it may properly decide the questions in such cause, and presented in the assignments of error therein filed, it requires the instructions of the Supreme Court of the United States on the following question, to-wit:"

" Upon the foregoing facts, has the United States circuit court the power to grant an injunction against the defendant, restraining the use of the machines? "

Page 194 U. S. 605

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