Hildreth v. Mastoras
257 U.S. 27 (1921)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Hildreth v. Mastoras, 257 U.S. 27 (1921)

Hildreth v. Mastoras

No. 51

Argued October 21, 1921

Decided November 7, 1921

257 U.S. 27

Syllabus

1. The presumption of priority and novelty which arises from the granting of a patent has greatly increased weight when the claim of the inventor was subjected to close and careful scrutiny in the Patent Office under the stimulus of a heated contest. P. 257 U. S. 32.

2. It is not necessary, in order to sustain a generic patent, to show that the device is a commercial success. The machine patented may be imperfect in operation, but if it embodies the generic principle, and works -- that is, if it actually and mechanically performs, though only in a crude way, the important function by which it makes the substantial change claimed for it in the art, it is enough. P. 257 U. S. 34.

3. A patentee who took the important but long delayed and therefore not obvious step from the pulling of candy by hand to the performance of the same function by machine, the ultimate effect of which, with the mechanical and patentable improvements of his device, was greatly to reduce its cost, and to enlarge the field of the art, was a pioneer. P. 257 U. S. 34.

4. The Dickinson patent, No. 831,501, Claim 1, for a candy-pulling machine comprising a plurality of oppositely disposed candy hooks or supports, a candy-puller (consisting of a third pin or support), and means for producing a specified relative in-and-out motion of these parts for the purpose of alternately pulling and overlapping the candy, held: (a) not anticipated by the earlier Firchau patent, comprising two hooks or pins attached to oppositely rotating discs and passing each other in concentric circles. P. 32. (b) Infringed by the later Langer patent which, instead of having one stationary pin and two others which move relatively to it and to each other, as in the Dickinson construction, has two stationary pins and a third which moves relatively to both of them, the path of the candy under the operation of the pins being in both cases along a course corresponding in form to a figure 8. P. 257 U. S. 35.

5. The Dickinson patent, supra, provided a trough to support the candy against gravity, but specified that any other support suitable to support it while being operated might be used. Held that the trough was not an essential element and that an arrangement of the pins in a horizontal instead of a vertical position, so that the

Page 257 U. S. 28

candy was supported by them, was at most an improved equivalent. P. 257 U. S. 36.

6. A generic patent is entitled to broad equivalents. P. 257 U. S. 36.

263 F. 571 reversed.

Certiorari to review a judgment of the circuit court of appeals in a suit brought by the present petitioner to enjoin an infringement of his patent. The district court granted the injunction, 253 F. 68; but it was reversed by the court below, 263 F. 571.

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