Winans v. Denmead
56 U.S. 330 (1853)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Winans v. Denmead, 56 U.S. 15 How. 330 330 (1853)

Winans v. Denmead

56 U.S. (15 How.) 330


A patent was taken out for making the body of a burden railroad car of sheet iron, the upper part being cylindrical, and the lower part in the form of a frustum of a cone, the under edge of which has a flange secured upon it, to which flange a movable bottom is attached.

The claim was this.

"What I claim its my invention and desire to secure by letters patent is making the body of a car for the transportation of coal &c., in the form of a frustum of a cone, substantially as herein described, whereby the force exerted by the weight of the load presses equally in all directions and does not tend to change the form thereof, so that every part resists its equal proportion, and by which also the lower part is so reduced as to pass down within the truck frame and between the axles to lower the center of gravity of the load without diminishing the capacity of the car as described. I also claim extending the body of the car below the connecting pieces of the truck frame and the line of draft, by passing the connecting bars of the truck frame and the draft bar, through the body of the car substantially described."

This patent was not for merely changing the form of a machine, but by means of such change to introduce and employ other mechanical principles or natural powers, or a new mode of operation, and thus attain a new and useful result.

Hence, where, in a suit brought by the patentee against persons who had constructed octagonal and pyramidal cars, the district judge ruled that the patent was good for conical bodies, but not for rectilinear bodies, this ruling was erroneous.

The structure, the mode of operation, and the result attained were the same in both, and the specification claimed in the patent covered the rectilinear cars. With this explanation of the patent, it should have been left to the jury to decide the question of infringement as a question of fact.

This was an action brought by Ross Winans for the infringement of a patent right. The jury, under the instruction of the district judge, the late Judge Glenn, then sitting alone, found a verdict for the defendants, and the plaintiff brought the case to this Court by a writ of error.

The nature of the case is set forth in the explanatory statement prefixed to the argument of the counsel for the plaintiff in error.

Page 56 U. S. 338

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