Pomace Holder Company v. Ferguson
Annotate this Case
119 U.S. 335 (1886)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Pomace Holder Company v. Ferguson, 119 U.S. 335 (1886)
Pomace Holder Company v. Ferguson
Argued November 19, 1886
Decided December 6, 1886
119 U.S. 335
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED
STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
The claim of letters patent No. 187,100, granted to John Clark, February 6th, 1817, for an "improvement in cheese formers for cider presses," namely, "The guide frame D, in combination with an extended pomace rack, and a cloth to enclose a layer of pomace therein, substantially as described," is invalid because it did not require invention to use the described guide frame in connection with the racks and the cloths.
The racks and the cloths had been before used in connection, and an enclosure was used with them, which enabled the operator to make the pomace of uniform depth on each rack, and prevented the lateral spreading of the pomace, and it required only ordinary mechanical skill and judgment to make cider the guide frame or the rack of the desired size.
This was a bill in equity to restrain the infringement of letters patent. Answer denying the validity of the patent. Decree below for respondent from which complainant appealed. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is a suit in equity brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York for the infringement of letters patent No. 187,100, granted to John Clark, February 6, 1877, for an "improvement in cheese formers for cider presses," on an application filed September 11, 1876. The specification and drawings of the patent are as follows:
"The object I have in view is in laying up a 'cheese' for the cider press, where each layer is folded up in a cloth, to
secure uniformity of thickness of all the layers in the mass or cheese, and thus secure uniform pressure on its entire area, and to avoid all tendency to break the pomace frames or rack."
To this end, it consists in the employment of a guide frame in combination with extended pomace racks, as more fully hereinafter set forth. Figure 1 is a perspective view, showing the manner of laying up a cheese in press. Figure 2 is a cross-section
at xx. In the drawing, A represents the lower framework of a cider press, on which is laid a bed, B. C is a pomace rack, which may be rigid, as shown, or flexible, as described in letters patent No. 148,034, issued to me March 3, 1874. On this rack is laid a guide frame D whose bottom girts are not spaced far enough apart to extend the full length of the rack on which they rest. A cloth E, large enough to envelop the layer, is then laid on the rack inside the frame and opened out to receive the pomace, which is "struck" level with the girts of the frame, after which the cloth is folded over the leveled pomace and the frame is lifted off. The next and succeeding racks are in like manner laid on the first and filled up, and a follower is placed on the upper one, when the cheese is ready to press. Laid up in this way, the several layers are uniform in thickness, and the cheese, in mass, is level on top and offers a uniform resistance to the pressure over its entire area, thus assuring the expression of all the juice and precluding all danger of breaking the pomace racks. If the bed B be extended, a cheese may be built upon a board while one is being pressed, and then be slid under the follower when the first one is removed.
The claim is in these words: "The guide frame D in combination with an extended pomace rack and a cloth to enclose a layer of pomace therein, substantially as described."
The answer sets up as defenses want of novelty, want of patentability, and public use for more than two years before the application for the patent. After a hearing on proofs, a decree was made adjudging the patent to be invalid and dismissing the bill. The plaintiff has appealed.
The decision of the circuit court, 17 F. 79, proceeded on these grounds: (1) cloths and also racks and also guide frames having each been used before, the aggregation of them, as described in the patent, was not a valid combination; (2) the use of the described guide frame in connection with the racks and cloths did not involve intention; (3) the precise combination described in the patent was in public use more than two years before the patent was applied for.
Without examining any other question raised in the case, we are of opinion that the patent must be held void on the second ground above mentioned. A rack on which to place the pomace was old, and a cloth to cover the pomace lying on the rack was old, the two being used in connection, and an enclosure was used with them, which enabled the operator to make the pomace of uniform depth on each rack and prevented the lateral spreading of the pomace. The only point of the invention would seem to be the use of a guide frame smaller than the rack, or in other words the use of a rack larger than the guide frame. There was no invention in making the guide frame or the rack of the desired size. It required only ordinary mechanical skill and judgment. Within the recent cases in this Court on the subject, the patent must be held void. Vinton v. Hamilton, 104 U. S. 485; Hall v. Macneale, 107 U. S. 90; Atlantic Works v. Brady, 107 U. S. 192, 107 U. S. 200; Slawson v. Grand Street Railroad Co., 107 U. S. 649; King v. Gallun, 109 U. S. 99; Double-Pointed Tack Co. v. Two Rivers Manufacturing Co., 109 U. S. 117; Estey v. Burdett, 109 U. S. 633; Bussey v. Excelsior Manufacturing Co., 110 U. S. 131; Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. Locomotive Truck Co., 110 U. S. 490; Phillips v. Detroit, 111 U. S. 604; Morris v. McMillin, 112 U. S. 244; Hollister v. Benedict Manufacturing Co., 113 U. S. 59; Thompson v. Boisselier, 114 U. S. 1, 114 U. S. 11; Stephenson v. Brooklyn Railway Co., 114 U. S. 149; Yale Lock Manufacturing Co. v. Sargent, 117 U. S. 554; Gardner v. Herz, 118 U. S. 180.