Ozan Lumber Co. v. Union County Nat. Bank
207 U.S. 251 (1907)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ozan Lumber Co. v. Union County Nat. Bank, 207 U.S. 251 (1907)

Ozan Lumber Co. v. Union County National Bank of Liberty

No. 37

Submitted November 5, 1907

Decided December 2, 1907

207 U.S. 251

Syllabus

Woods & Sons v. Carl,203 U. S. 358, and Allen v. Riley,203 U. S. 347, followed as to the power of a state, until Congress legislates, to make such reasonable regulations in regard to the transfer of patent rights as will protect its citizens from fraud.

There cannot be an exact exclusion or inclusion of persons and things in a classification for governmental purposes, and a general classification, otherwise proper, will not be rendered invalid because certain imaginary and unforeseen cases have been overlooked. In such a case, there is no substantial denial of the equal protection of the laws within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

State legislation which regulates business may well make distinctions depend upon the degrees of evil without being arbitrary and unreasonable. See Heath & Milligan Mfg. Co. v. Worst, post.

The purpose of the statute of Arkansas providing that all notes given for payment of patented articles must show that they were so given, and permitting defenses to be made to such notes in the hands of third parties, is to create and enforce a police regulation, aimed principally at itinerant vendors of patented articles, and the distinction in § 4 that it shall not apply to merchants and dealers who sell patented articles in the usual course of business is founded upon fair reasoning, and is not such a discrimination as violates the equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Page 207 U. S. 252

Where the case was decided below solely upon constitutional grounds upon which the decision cannot rest, it must be remanded and if there are any other facts they can be presented upon another trial.

145 F. 344 reversed.

This case comes here upon certiorari directed to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The action was commenced in the United States circuit court for the Western District of Arkansas, upon certain promissory notes, which the defendant, the Ozan Lumber Company, in its answer alleged had been given by it in payment for a patented article, such notes not being executed upon a printed form, showing they were given in consideration of a patented machine, as required by the statute of Arkansas. Kirby's Digest Laws of Arkansas, §§ 513 to 516, inclusive.

A demurrer to the defense was interposed on the ground that it did not state facts constituting a defense. The circuit court sustained the demurrer, because, as it held, the act was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, as denying to the plaintiff the equal protection of the laws. 127 F. 206. The case was taken by writ of error to the circuit court of appeals, where the judgment was affirmed for the reason that the act was an illegal discrimination against patented articles. 145 F. 344. The application by defendant for a certiorari to review that judgment was granted.

Page 207 U. S. 254

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