Brown v. Davis,
116 U.S. 237 (1886)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Brown v. Davis, 116 U.S. 237 (1886)

Brown v. Davis

Argued December l7, 1885

Decided January 11, 1886

116 U.S. 237


Claim 2 of reissued letters patent No. 8589, granted to Charles F. Davis and William Allen February 18, 1879, for an "improvement in grain drills" (the original patent, No 74,515, having been granted to said Davis as inventor, February 18, 1868), namely:

"The shoes or hoes of a seed planter, attached to the main frame, substantially as described, in combination with a lever, or its equivalent, whereby they can be shifted at the pleasure of the operator from a straight to a zigzag line, or vice versa,"

makes the lever, or its equivalent, an essential element of the combination, and the claim is not infringed where the lever is dispensed with and the human hand is substituted, although in the patent the hand is applied to work the lever.

In view of a prior invention, claims 1 and 3 of the reissue, which were not made in the original patent, were held to be limited to the special shifting apparatus of the patent, because, if extended to cover shifting arrangements not substantially using a rotating crankshaft, they became claims which could not lawfully have been granted in the original patent, and, as claims in a reissue, were invalid, because the application for the reissue was made nearly eleven years after the original patent was granted and after machines effecting the shifting by other means than a rotating crankshaft had gone into use subsequently to the date of the original, and no sufficient excuse was given for the laches and delay.

It appeared as a fact that new matter was introduced into the specification of the reissue for the purpose of reaching machines which the claims of the

Page 116 U. S. 238

original patent would not reach, and of laying a foundation for claims 1 and 3 of the reissue.

Claims 4, 5 and 6 of the reissue were held not to be infringed, because the shifting mechanism of the patent, with its rotating crankshaft, was an element in each claim in view of a prior invention, and was not used by the defendant.

This was a suit in equity on an alleged infringement of a patent. The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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