McCormick v. Talcott
61 U.S. 402 (1857)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

McCormick v. Talcott, 61 U.S. 20 How. 402 402 (1857)

McCormick v. Talcott

61 U.S. (20 How.) 402

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

Syllabus

The reaping machines made by Manny do not infringe McCormick's patent, either as to the divider, the manner in which the reel is supported, or the combination of the reel with a seat for the raker.

McCormick not being the original inventor of the machine called a divider, but the patentee of only an improvement for a combination of mechanical devices, could not hold as an infringer one who used only a part of the combination.

Page 61 U. S. 403

The manner of supporting the reel in Manny's machine is not like that in McCormick's, and was used before McCormick's first patent.

With respect to the raker's seat, McCormick's patent was for a combination of the reel with a seat arranged and located according to his description. But Manny's arrangement differs from McCormick's in principle as well as in form and combination, and is therefore no infringement of McCormick's patent.

The bill which was filed by McCormick alleged that the defendants in error had infringed his patent for a reaping machine, called upon them for an account, and prayed for an injunction. The defendants denied the infringement and claimed a right to construct their machines under letters patent granted to John H. Manny. The circuit court dismissed the bill, and McCormick appealed to this Court.

McCormick's patents had been twice before this Court, as will be seen by referring to 57 U. S. 16 How. 480, and 60 U. S. 19 How. 96. The same claims, viz., the fourth and fifth of the patent of 1845, were involved in the case in 19 How. and the remaining claim, viz., that relating to the seat of the raker, under the patent of 1847, was before the court in 16 How. only that it now comes up under a reissued patent in 1853.

The reporter despairs of giving any intelligible account of the argument in this case. The record was upwards of one thousand pages of printed matter, of which seven hundred and fifty pages were the depositions of witnesses, and the courtroom was filled with models and drawings, introduced upon either side, to which constant reference was made by the counsel.

MR. JUSTICE GRIER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The bill charges the defendants with infringing two several patents granted to complainant, for improvements in the machine known as McCormick's Reaper. One of these patents bears date the 31st of January, 1845; the other on the 24th of May, 1853, being the reissue of a previous one, dated 23d of October, 1847. The defendants are charged with infringing the fourth and fifth claims of the patent of 1845 and the second claim of the reissued patent of 1853.

I. The first infringement charged is that of the divider, or that part of the reaping machine which is defined "as an arrangement

Page 61 U. S. 404

or apparatus for separating the grain to be cut from that which is to be left standing."

The claim is as follows: "4th. I claim the combination of the bow L and the dividing-iron M, for separating the wheat in the way described."

The description referred to is as follows:

"The divider K is an extension of the frame on the left side of the platform, say three feet before the blade, for the purpose and so constructed as to effect a separation of the wheat to be cut from that to be left standing, and that whether tangled or not. E is a piece of scantling, say three feet long and three inches square, made fast to a projection of the platform by two screw bolts. To the point of this piece, at K, is made fast by a screw or bolt a bow L of tough wood, the other end of which is made fast in the hinder part of the platform at R, and it is so bent as to be about two and a half feet high at the left reel post, and about nine inches out from it, with a regular curve. The dividing iron M is an iron rod of a peculiar shape, made fast to the point of the same piece E, and by the same screw bolt that holds the bow L. From this bolt this iron rises towards the reel S, at an angle of say 30

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