Russell v. Place,
94 U.S. 606 (1876)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Russell v. Place, 94 U.S. 606 (1876)

Russell v. Place

94 U.S. 606


1. A judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction upon a question directly involved in one suit is conclusive as to that question in another suit between the same parties, but to this operation of the judgment it must appear either upon the face of the record or be shown by extrinsic evidence that the precise question was raised and determined in the former suit. If there be any uncertainty on this head in the record, the whole subject matter of the action will be at large and open to a new contention unless this uncertainty be removed by extrinsic evidence showing the precise point involved and determined. To apply the judgment and give effect to the adjudication actually made when the record leaves the matter in doubt, such evidence is admissible.

2. In an action at law for damages for the infringement of a patent for an alleged new and useful improvement in the preparation of leather, which patent contained two claims, one for the use of fat liquor generally in the treatment of leather and the other for a process of treating bark-tanned lamb or sheep skin by means of a compound composed and applied in a particular manner, the declaration alleged, as the infringement complained of, that the defendants had made and used the invention and caused others to make and use it without averring whether such infringement consisted in the simple use of fat liquor in the treatment of leather or in the use of the process specified. Held that the judgment recovered in the action does not estop the defendant in a suit in equity by the same plaintiff for an injunction and an accounting for gains and profits from contesting the validity of the patent, it not appearing by the record, and not being shown by extrinsic evidence, upon which claim the recovery was had. The validity of the patent was not necessarily involved except with respect to the claim which was the basis of the recovery; a patent may be valid as to a single claim and invalid as to the others.

3. If, upon the face of a record, anything is left to conjecture as to what was necessarily involved and decided, there is no estoppel in it when pleaded and nothing conclusive in it when offered as evidence.

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