Prouty and Mears v. Ruggles - 41 U.S. 336 (1842)
U.S. Supreme Court
Prouty and Mears v. Ruggles, 41 U.S. 16 Pet. 336 336 (1842)
Prouty and Mears v. Ruggles
41 U.S. (16 Pet.) 336
The plaintiffs, in the circuit court, claimed damages for the infringement of their patent for "a new and useful improvement in the construction of a plough." The claim of the patents was for the combination of certain parts of the plough, not for the parts separately. The circuit court charged the jury, that unless it is proved that the whole combination is substantially used in the defendant's ploughs, it is not a violation of the plaintiff's patent; although one or more of the parts specified in the letters patent may be used in combination by the defendant. The plaintiffs, by their specification and summing up, treated the parts described as essential parts of their combination, for the purpose of brace and draft, and the use of either alone by the defendant would not be an infringement of the combination patented. Held, that the instructions of the circuit court were correct.
The patent is for a combination, and the improvement consists in arranging different portions of the plough, and combining them together in the manner stated in the specification, for the purpose of producing a certain effect. None of the parts referred to are new, and none are claimed as new; nor is any portion of the combination less than the whole claimed as new, or stated to produce any given result. The end in view is proposed to be accomplished by the union of all, arranged and combined together in the manner described, and this combination, composed of all the parts mentioned in the specification, and arranged with reference to each other, and to other parts of the plough, in the manner therein described, is stated to be the improvement, and is the thing patented. The use of any two of these parts only, or of two combined with a third, which is substantially different in the form, or in the manner of its arrangement and connection with the others, is therefore not the thing patented. It is not the same combination, if it substantially differs from it in any of its parts.
The plaintiffs in error instituted a suit in the circuit Court of Massachusetts for the recovery of damages for the violation of a patent granted to them by the United States for a new and useful improvement in the construction of a plough.
The cause was tried before a jury at October sessions of the circuit court, in 1841, and a verdict and judgment were rendered for the defendant. The plaintiffs took exceptions to the charge of the court, and prosecuted this writ of error.
The case is fully stated in the opinion of the court.