Burr v. Duryee
68 U.S. 579 (1863)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Burr v. Duryee, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 579 579 (1863)

Burr v. Duryee

68 U.S. (1 Wall.) 579

Syllabus

The "Boyden machine" does not infringe the patent of A. B. Taylor. The practice of reissuing patents for the purpose of interpolating abstract generalizations so as to cover subsequent inventions made by others is condemned.

Bill in chancery, by which the complainant charged that the defendants were using a certain machine for the manufacture of hat bodies, which infringed a patent originally granted in 1856 to a certain A. B. Taylor, and subsequently, in 1860, reissued, for hardening the bodies of hats by means of rollers while on the perforated cone upon which they had been formed, with a contrivance to give them the reciprocating motion required in the operation of being hardened. In the original patent of Taylor, of 1856, the claim was limited to his "arrangement" for hardening the body in a dry state, by "machinery operating substantially as set forth." The complainant, who had purchased this patent, afterwards, however, saw the machine known as Boyden's, and more particularly described in the preceding case. He then (1860) surrendered his patent and obtained a reissue, in which he altered his claim of invention from an "arrangement of machinery" to a claim for a "vibrating concave surface."

The difference between the invention as claimed in the original patent, and as subsequently set forth, as well as the general nature of his invention and claim, will appear more minutely by the setting them out seriatim.

"Original Patent, 1856"

"The object of my improvements is to harden the bat sufficiently to permit it to be removed from the perforated cone without the application of water, and to facilitate the removal of the bat from the cone without requiring the latter to be taken from its position in the machine. These improvements consist in a mechanical process of hardening the bat before it is removed from the cone, and in facilitating the removal of the bat from the cone by means of a blast of air forced through the cone. There are also various improvements in the arrangement and construction of the machinery devised by me, as will hereinafter more fully appear."

"Claim"

"What I claim as my invention and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is the arrangement for hardening the hat body in a dry state, by machinery operating substantially as herein set forth."

"Reissue, 1860"

"My said invention, which relates to the hardening of the bat on the pervious cone on which it is formed, and while the fibers constituting the bat are held to the surface of the cone by the pressure of the surrounding air, consists in combining with a perforated cone, on which the bat of the fibers is held by the pressure of the surrounding air, a vibrating concave surface, held by pressure, so as to act on the convex surface of the bat as it is vibrated, by means of which combination a large segment of the bat, along its entire length, is acted upon at once by the concave surface, while, by the rotation, every part of the circumference is brought, in succession, under the hardening operation."

"Claim"

"What I claim as my invention is, the combination of a vibrating concave surface, substantially as described, with an exhausted pervious cone, on which the bat of flocculent fibers is held by the pressure of the surrounding air, substantially as and for the purpose specified."

The argument was chiefly upon the points, how far the reissue was for a principle or function as distinguished from a machine, and how far such a patent was valid; and also, whether the reissue was or was not for the same thing granted in the original patent; matters discussed much more fully in the principal case.

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