Machine Company v. Murphy,
97 U.S. 120 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Machine Company v. Murphy, 97 U.S. 120 (1877)

Machine Company v. Murphy

97 U.S. 120


1. The substantial equivalent of a thing is, in the sense of the patent law, the same as the thing itself. Two devices which perform the same function in substantially the same way, and accomplish substantially the same result, are therefore the same, though they may differ in name or form.

2. The combination, consisting of a fixed knife with a striker and the other means employed to raise the striker and let it fall to perform the cutting function, embraced by letters patent No. 146,774, issued Jan. 27,1874, to Merrick Murphy, for an improvement in paper bag machines, is substantially the same thing as the ascending and descending cutting device embraced by letters patent No. 24,734, issued July 12, 1859, to William Goodale.

The Union Paper Bag Machine Company, assignee of William Goodale, to whom letters patent No. 24,734, for an improvement in machines for making paper bags, were issued July 12, 1859, and subsequently extended, brought this suit to restrain Merrick Murphy and R. W. Murphy from infringing said letters. The respondents justified under letters patent No. 146,774, issued Jan. 27, 1874, to Merrick Murphy.

Page 97 U. S. 121

The court below dismissed the bill, whereupon the complainants appealed here.

The remaining facts are stated, and the respective machines described, in the opinion of the Court.

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