Becher v. Contoure Laboratories, Inc.
279 U.S. 388 (1929)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Becher v. Contoure Laboratories, Inc., 279 U.S. 388 (1929)

Becher v. Contoure Laboratories, Inc.

No. 559

Argued April 24, 1929

Decided May 13, 1929

279 U.S. 388

Syllabus

1. An undisclosed invention does not need a patent to protect it from disclosure by breach of trust. P. 279 U. S. 391.

2. O, being the inventor of a machine, employed B as a machinist to construct it, B agreeing to keep secret the information concerning the invention imparted to him by O and not to make use of it for the benefit of himself or any other than O. B, in breach of his trust, surreptitiously obtained a patent for the invention as his own, and 0, in a suit in a state court, obtained a decree holding B a trustee ex maleficio of the invention and patent, commanding him to assign the patent to O and forbidding him to use, make or sell, etc., such machines or to transfer any rights under the patent.

Held:

(1) That the suit was not one arising under the patent laws, and was within the jurisdiction of the state court. P. 279 U. S. 390.

(2) That the decree of the state court was an estoppel against B in a suit brought by him in the federal court to enjoin O from infringing the patent. P. 279 U. S. 391.

29 F.2d 31 affirmed.

Certiorari, 278 U.S. 597, to review a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court refusing a preliminary injunction in a suit for infringement of a patent, and dismissed the bill.

Page 279 U. S. 389

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