Stevens v. Gladding - 58 U.S. 447 (1854)
U.S. Supreme Court
Stevens v. Gladding, 58 U.S. 17 How. 447 447 (1854)
58 U.S. (17 How.) 447
Whether patent rights and copyrights held under the laws of the United States are subject to seizure and sale on execution is a question upon which the Court does not express an opinion in the present case.
The seizure and sale under execution of "one copperplate for the map of the State of Rhode Island" did not carry with it the right to print and publish the map.
It is distinguishable from a voluntary sale of a plate by the owner thereof.
The ownership of a plate and the ownership of the copyright are distinct species of property, and the plate may be used without infringing upon the copyright of printing and publishing the map. .
But the penalties imposed by the 7th section of the Act of Congress passed on the 3d of February, 1831 -- namely the forfeiture of the printed copies and the sum of one dollar for each sheet unlawfully printed -- cannot be enforced in a court of equity. Under a prayer for general relief, the court can decree for an account of profits. This right is incident to the right to an injunction in copy and patent right cases.
This was a branch of the case of Stevens v. Cady, 14 How. 528, and the difference between the two cases is stated in the opinion of the Court.
The decree of the circuit court was as follows:
"This cause came on to be heard on the bill, answer, replication, depositions, and other papers in the case, and after the hearing it is ordered by the court that the following entry be made on the minutes in relation to the same:"
"The court differ in opinion as to the effect of the sale of the copperplate, but agrees that injunction cannot issue without a return of the money paid for the plate."
And afterwards, at the same term, Mr. Stevens, having the election to return the price of the plate or not, elected not to return the same, upon which the respondents move that the bill be dismissed, which is dismissed as follows:
"This cause having been heard on the bill, answer, and other pleadings therein and the complainant having refused to return the price of the plate of the map in question as required by the court: "
"It is now, on motion of the respondents and by the consideration of the court ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the said bill be and the same is hereby dismissed with costs."
"November term, A.D. 1849."
From this decree Stevens appealed to this Court.