Ball and Socket Fastener Co. v. Kraetzer,
150 U.S. 111 (1893)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ball and Socket Fastener Co. v. Kraetzer, 150 U.S. 111 (1893)

Ball and Socket Fastener Company v. Kraetzer

No. 53

Argued October 27, 1893

Decided November 6, 1893

150 U.S. 111


The fourth and seventh claims in letters patent No. 325,688, issued to Albert G. Mead, September 8, 1885, for a "button" are not infringed by glove fasteners manufactured under letters patent Nos. 359,614 and 359,615, issued to Edwin J. Kraetzer, March 22, 1887, and though it would be possible to make out a literal infringement of the sixth claim by construing

Page 150 U. S. 112

the claim broadly, the Court holds that the patentee is not entitled to such construction.

There is no equity in charging infringement upon a defendant in a patent suit in consequence of an apparently accidental adoption of an immaterial feature of the plaintiff's patent.

When costs are unnecessarily increased by the incorporation of useless papers, costs may be imposed upon the offending party under Rule 10, Paragraph 9, and they are imposed in this case.

This was a bill in equity originally filed for the infringement of six letters patent for improvements in glove fasteners, five of which patents were issued to William S. Richardson and one to Albert G. Mead.

A plea having been filed upon the ground of multifariousness, two of the patents were stricken from the bill upon the application of the plaintiff.

The only patent relied upon at the hearing or covered by the assignments of error was that the Albert G. Mead, No. 325,688, issued September 8, 1885, for a "button." In his specification, patentee states:

"This invention relates to metallic fastenings employed in securing the separate flaps of any article, such as gloves or other similar articles of wear, in lieu of the ordinary button and buttonhole, and pertains especially to that class entitled 'ball and socket fastenings,' in which a ball is adapted to be enclosed by, and retained within, the hollow or socket member, when the fastening is actively employed. I consider my present invention embraces first, the method of centrally securing the socket portion of the fastening to the article, whereby the open part or socket of said member is disposed upon the underside of the flap, and secured by a rivet extending through the fabric. Thus, in permanently securing it to the latter, a suitable buttonhead or cap is employed upon the upper surface of the flap, and can be so formed and constructed as to form a button finish -- a result much desired since it gives the article an appearance exactly similar to an ordinary button, which is the most neat and tasty finish that can be employed in the class of articles of apparel to which such fastenings are usually attached; but further, the whole device is thereby concealed and prevented from becoming caught and broken. Secondly, in the peculiar method of forming

Page 150 U. S. 113

the ball member of said fastening, as likewise that of the rivet by which the ball is secured to the fabric, the two parts forming a unit, and readily used in connection with the socket member, forming an article very easily manufactured, cheap, and inexpensive, and one which presents an unusually ornamental finish."

Defendant was manufacturing under letters patent Nos. 359,614 and 359,615, granted to him March 22, 1887, for improvements in glove fasteners.

The case was heard upon pleadings and proofs, and the bill dismissed upon the ground that the defendant had not infringed. 39 F. 700.

No appeal was taken from the decree of the circuit court dismissing the bill as to the three Richardson patents remaining, and the appeal only involved the consideration of the 4th, 6th, and 7th claims of the Mead patent. These claims were as follows:

"4. In a fastening device of the nature described, the enclosing portion composed of a hollow socket centrally secured to the fabric by a button head, F, and with the enclosing portion disposed upon the underside of the flap, substantially as stated."

"6. A member of a fastening device consisting of a hollow socket, in combination with a rivet and button head, whereby it is centrally attached to the fabric, substantially as set forth."

"7. A member of a fastening device composed of a hollow socket, D, centrally attached by an eyelet, l, the latter resting upon and within an annular depression, q, formed in a concave collet or disk, E, substantially for the purpose herein set forth."

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