Sanitary Refrigerator Co. v. Winters - 280 U.S. 30 (1929)

U.S. Supreme Court

Sanitary Refrigerator Co. v. Winters, 280 U.S. 30 (1929)

Sanitary Refrigerator Co. v. Winters

Nos. 4 and 14

Argued April 19, 22, 1929

Decided October 14, 1929

280 U.S. 30


1. On writs of certiorari to review contrary decisions of two circuit courts of appeals on whether a patent was infringed by a particular device, the plaintiff being the same in both cases and the

Page 280 U. S. 31

defendant in one assuming defense of the other, this Court has no occasion to determine the validity of the patent claims involved where, in the courts below, the defense conceded their validity if limited to the specific structure disclosed, and where their validity was upheld in one case, not denied in the other, and not questioned by the defense in its petition for certiorari. P. 280 U. S. 34.

2. A decree of a circuit court of appeals affirming an interlocutory order of the district court adjudging the infringement of a patent and ordering an accounting will not avail the patentee by way of res judicata or estoppel in a like suit pending before the circuit court of appeals of another circuit if not set up in the record of hat case, but merely brought to the court's attention on argument. P. 280 U. S. 35.

3. In such case, the effect of the decree is, at most, that which it may have under the doctrine of comity; refusal to follow it is not, in itself, a ground for reversal. Id.

4. Where there are concurrent findings of the two federal courts in one circuit that a patent has been infringed, and concurrent findings of those courts in another circuit, in a like case, that it has not, this Court, upon a review of both cases because of the conflict, will consider independently which of the decisions is correct. P. 280 U. S. 35.

5. Upon the undisputed evidence in these cases, the question of infringement resolves itself into a question of law, depending upon a comparison between the structure disclosed on the face of the plaintiff's patent and the device complained of, and the correct application thereto of the law of equivalency. P. 280 U. S. 36.

6. Patent No. 1,385, 102 (Claims 1 4, inclusive, and 7), issued to Winters and Crampton for an improved latch of the swinging lever type particularly adapted for use on doors of refrigerators, etc., is infringed by the defendants' latches, manufactured under Patent No 1,575,647, issued to Schrader. P. 280 U. S. 41.

7. A close copy which seeks to use the substance of the invention, and, although showing some changes in form and position, uses substantially the same devices, performing precisely the same offices with no change in principle, constitutes an infringement. P. 280 U. S. 42.

8. Even where, in view of the state of the art, the invention must be restricted to the form shown and described by the patentee, and cannot be extended to embrace a new form which is a substantial departure therefrom, it is nevertheless infringed by a device in which there is no substantial departure from the description in the patent, but a mere colorable departure therefrom. P. 280 U. S. 42.

Page 280 U. S. 32

9. Undisputed facts clearly showing infringement by a device made under a later patent held not to be overcome by any presumption of the validity of that patent. P. 280 U. S. 43.

24 F.2d 15 affirmed.

28 F.2d 583 reversed.

Certiorari, 278 U.S. 587, to review two decrees of different circuit courts of appeals in suits for infringements of a patent. In No. 4, the court below sustained a district court decree of injunction and for an accounting. In No. 14, the court below affirmed a district court decree dismissing the bill because of noninfringement. See 20 F.2d 671.

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