Abercrombie & Fitch Co. v. Baldwin - 245 U.S. 198 (1917)
U.S. Supreme Court
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. v. Baldwin, 245 U.S. 198 (1917)
Abercrombie & Fitch Company v. Baldwin
Argued November 19, 20, 1917
Decided December 10, 1917
245 U.S. 198
The Baldwin patent, original No. 821,580, reissue No. 13,542, for improvements in acetylene gas generating lamps, held valid and infringed as to Claim 4.
The patent relates to an acetylene gas generating lamp, with an upper reservoir for water and a lower receptacle for calcium carbide, connected by a tube, with a rod extending through the tube and subject to manipulation from above. The inventive features involved lie in securing a proper flow of the water through the tube and access for it to the unslaked carbide, the first, by adopting a comparatively large tube with a size of rod suitably restricting its capacity; the second, by manipulating the rod when necessary to break up slaked carbide at the mouth of the tube in the lower receptacle.
Held, upon the evidence, that the invention is meritorious and entitled to invoke the doctrine of equivalents. Paper Bag Patent Case, 210 U. S. 405.
The original patent having figured the tube as extending to and embedded in the carbide, and described the rod as a means, when manipulated, of breaking up slaked carbide at the lower mouth of the tube, to permit the water to percolate to the unslaked carbide, held that an amendment in the reissue explicitly describing the tube as so extended and embedded did not enlarge the patent.
In the original patent specification, the rod or "stirrer" was described as bent at the lower extremity, while the specification of the reissue declared, "it is obvious that the stirrer need not always be formed with a bent end." Held that the reissue did not enlarge the original patent; the function of the rod as a "stirrer," clearly described in the original, is the same whether its end be bent or straight; the two forms are but interchangeable equivalents.
In the original patent proceedings, the applicant was required to surrender a claim describing the rod as "extending from a point outside the lamp through the tube into the carbide receptacle." Held, on the evidence, that this was not a surrender of the straight form of stirring rod.
In view of the facts of the case, held that one of the petitioners, which entered the field when the patent was unquestioned and after the patentee by his efforts had created an extensive market, acquired in equity no intervening rights against the patent as subsequently reissued.
228 F. 895 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.