Silsby v. Foote,
55 U.S. 218 (1852)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Silsby v. Foote, 55 U.S. 14 How. 218 218 (1852)

Silsby v. Foote, 55 U.S. (14 How.) 218 (1852)

55 U.S. 218


Upon a trial in New York, a juror became ill and was discharged before any evidence was given and before the plaintiffs' counsel had concluded his opening address. The court ordered another juror to be sworn and proceeded with the trial. The defendant cannot object to this. It is the practice in New York, and the circuit court had a right to follow it.

Page 55 U. S. 219

The court, having erroneously refused to allow the plaintiff to offer a paper in evidence as a disclaimer of part of a patent, afterwards refused to allow the defendants to offer the same paper in evidence for the purpose of prejudicing the plaintiffs' rights. This last refusal was correct. The reason given was erroneous, but this is not a sufficient cause for reversing the judgment.

The courts of the United States have not the power to order a nonsuit against the wishes of the plaintiff.

Under a notice given by the defendant that the invention claimed by the plaintiff was described in Ure's Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures and Mines, and had been used by Andrew Ure, of London, it was not competent to give in evidence a very large book. The place in the book should have been specified.

Nor, under the notice, was the book competent evidence that Andrew Ure, of London, had a prior knowledge of the thing patented. The notice does not state the place where the same was used.

One of the specifications of the patent being for a combination of certain parts of mechanism necessary to produce the desired result, it was proper for the court to instruct the jury that the defendants had not infringed the patent unless they had used all the parts embraced in the plaintiffs' combination, and the jury were to find what those parts were, and whether the defendants had used them.

When a claim does not point out and designate the particular elements which compose a combination, but only declares, as it properly may, that the combination is made up of so much of the described machinery as effects a particular result, it is a question of fact which of the described parts are essential to produce that result, and to this extent not the construction of the claim, strictly speaking, but the application of the claim should be left to the jury.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.

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