Yale Lock Manufacturing Company v. Greenleaf,
117 U.S. 554 (1886)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Yale Lock Manufacturing Company v. Greenleaf, 117 U.S. 554 (1886)

Yale Lock Manufacturing Company v. Greenleaf

Argued March 16, 1886

Decided March 29, 1886

117 U.S. 554


The scope of letters patent must be limited to the invention covered by the claim; the claim may be illustrated, but it cannot be enlarged by language used in other parts of the specification.

Page 117 U. S. 555

The change made by George Rosner in the devices used in previous combinations for the purposes described in his application for a patent in September, 1860, were such as would occur to an unskilled mechanic, and were not inventions within the meaning of the patent laws.

The first claim in the patent 30,002, September is, 1860, Reissue 4,488, July 25, 1871, granted to George Rosner, was anticipated by the application and specification of D. R. Rickards filed March 13, 1852, and by locks manufactured by Evans & Watson in 1853.

This was a bill in equity brought by the appellee, Halbert S. Greenleaf, to restrain the infringement by the appellant, the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company, of the first and fourth claims of the reissued letters patent granted to George Rosner, July 25, 1871, for an "improvement in permutation locks." The original patent bore date September 18, 1860.

The defense was that the alleged invention and substantial and material parts thereof claimed as new were, prior to any invention thereof by said George Rosner, known and publicly used by divers persons in this country, and that among such persons were D. H. Rickards of Boston and the firm of Evans & Watson of Philadelphia.

The Circuit Court decided that the patent was valid, and that the defendant had infringed, and, upon the report of a master of the damages sustained by the plaintiff, rendered a decree in his favor for $2,968.50. The present appeal brings that decree under review.

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