Gould v. Rees
82 U.S. 187 (1872)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Gould v. Rees, 82 U.S. 15 Wall. 187 187 (1872)

Gould v. Rees

82 U.S. 15 Wall. 187

Syllabus

1. Where three elements are claimed in a patent in combination, the use of two of the elements only does not infringe the patent.

2. The introduction of a newly discovered element or ingredient, or one not theretofore known to be an equivalent, would not constitute an infringement.

Rees used Gould in an action at law for an alleged infringement of a patent for improvement in steam engines dated January 24, 1860.

The claims of the patent were as follows:

"Having thus described the nature, construction, and operation

Page 82 U. S. 188

of my improvement, what I claim as my invention and desire to secure by letters patent of the United States is:"

"First. The flanges i on the reversing crank or arm b, and the projection t on the cam rod e, when used for the purpose of guiding the hooks 1 and 2 into their proper position on the wrists 3 and 4 of the reversing crank or arm b, as herein described and set forth."

"Second. The use of the link m or its equivalent when used in connection with the cam rods f and g, reversing crank or arm b and the crank or arm l as herein described and for the purpose set forth."

"Third. The use of the connecting rods o and g, or their equivalents, when used in combination with the link m, cam rod e, and levers p and r, as herein described and for the purpose set forth."

Numerous exceptions were taken by the defendant to certain rulings of the court, and also to certain instructions to the jury, but this Court passed mainly upon the principle involved in the second and third specifications of error, which were in these words:

"2d. The court below erred in instructing the jury in reply to the fourth point of law presented by the counsel of the defendants below, which point was in the following words:"

" That when a combination of mechanical devices is claimed, it is not infringed by the use of a combination differing substantially in any of its parts, and that the omission of one essential feature or element of the combination as claimed avoids the patent."

"The charge of the court below to said fourth point being as follows:"

" If the jury believe that the mechanical devices used by Rees, although differing in mechanical form or construction, are equivalent to those patented and used in the combination patented to produce the same result, it is an infringement of the patent. And this although there is an omission of one of the features of the combination. It is the ordinary device resorted to by those who design to infringe and who have been unsuccessful in their experiments to produce a desired result. The law secures to the patentee the right to the use of his machine, provided it consists of a new combination, although composed of parts well known and in common use."

"3d. The court erred in instructing the jury in reply to the

Page 82 U. S. 189

sixth point of law presented to him by the defendants' counsel, which point was in the following words:"

" That the first claim of the plaintiff's patent, in the following words, to-wit: 'I claim the flanges i, on the reversing crank or arm b, and the projection t, on the cam rod e, when used for the purpose of guiding the hooks 1 and 2 into their proper position on the wrists 3 and 4 of the reversing crank or arm b, as described and set forth,' is for a combination of the arm b, having flanges i, with the cam rod e having a projection t, and is not infringed by the use of either of the elements of the combination without the other, nor by the use of the arm b if without the flanges i; or of the cam rod e without the projection t."

"The charge of the court to said sixth point being as follows:"

" The use of the combination is an infringement, and the omission of one of the elements and the substitution of another mechanical device to perform the same function will not avoid the infringement. All the elements of the machine may be old, and the invention consists in a new combination of those elements whereby a new and useful result is obtained. Most of the modern inventions are of this latter kind, and many of them are of great utility and value."

Verdict having gone under these rulings for the plaintiff, the defendant brought the case here.

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