100 U.S. 226 (1879), Craig v. Smith

Citation:100 U.S. 226, 25 L.Ed. 577
Party Name:CRAIG v. SMITH.
Case Date:December 08, 1879
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 226

100 U.S. 226 (1879)

25 L.Ed. 577




United States Supreme Court.

December 08, 1879


APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Kansas.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.


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The case was argued for the appellant by Mr. Charles S. Whitman, and for the appellee by Mr. Matt. H. Carpenter.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.

Samuel F. Craig, the appellant, on the 2d of February, 1872, filed in the Circuit Court a bill in equity against Jacob Smith and George D. Hale, to enjoin them from using an improved welltube, for which he claimed to have letters-patent from the United States bearing date June 11, 1867. They answered, attacking the validity of the letters-patent: 1, Because the patented invention had been described in a certain printed publication publicly circulated and distributed prior to his supposed invention; 2, because it had been anticipated by certain other persons whose names and places of residence were given; and, 3, because it had been in public use more than two years before the date of the alleged letters-patent. A replication to this answer was filed, and proofs were taken. The cause was heard June 5, 1873, and a decree entered sustaining the letters-patent, awarding an injunction, and ordering a reference to a master to take an account of profits. The master made his report Dec. 12, 1873, and on the same day leave to file a petition for rehearing within forty days was granted the defendants. This petition was filed Jan. 21, 1874, and set forth that since the hearing the defendants had discovered evidence of new and substantive facts which they had not been able to discover before, and which they were advised and believed were material and pertinent to the issues. This new matter was: 1, Letters-patent issued by the United States to Charles Batcheller, of Keene,

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New Hampshire, as early as Dec. 12, 1865, for an invention alleged to be substantially like that of Craig; and, 2, an extensive prior knowledge and use during the years 1865 and 1866, in various places throughout the United States, of well-tubes in all material respects like that in dispute. The names and places of residence of twenty-five persons who had this prior knowledge of the thing patented, and who knew of its prior use, were given, and in addition affidavits of each one of these persons, showing what they knew and had seen, were attached to the petition as exhibits.

The petition further stated that the defendants were general hardware dealers at Topeka, Kansas, and in the course of their business sold the well-tubes claimed to be an infringement of Craig's letters-patent; that when the suit was commenced they employed counsel, naming him to conduct their defence; that, as they believed, he used due diligence in procuring evidence, but that notwithstanding his and their efforts they never really obtained any available clew to the facts until after the former hearing; that the patent to Batcheller was not found until September, 1873, and it was after that date when they actually ascertained that they could prove by the persons named the facts set out in the affidavits made exhibits; 'that since the commencement of the suit, through all such likely sources as they could discover or were informed of, the said defendants have made persistent inquiry and search after the facts material and pertinent to the issues in said cause, but owing to the often uncertain character of their information, the scattered situation of the sources of information, and, withal, the delay and obstacles, not easily surmounted, which were necessarily attendant upon such inquiry and search, they wholly failed to discover any of the evidence herewith exhibited until long after the submission, hearing, and decree in said cause as aforesaid.' Attached to the petition as an exhibit was an affidavit of the counsel showing his diligence in the premises. The petition was sworn to by one of the defendants.

On the 24th of January, 1874, a supplemental petition was filed, setting forth a considerable number of rejected applications for letters-patent for improvements in well-tubes, which, it was claimed, described the complainant's patented invention.

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All the several applications were attached to the supplemental petition as exhibits. On the 13th of February, 1874, Craig asked and obtained leave until April 1, for the filing of counteraffidavits, and the defendants were allowed until May 1, for such further steps on their part as they should be advised were necessary.

To the petition and supplememt Craig, on the 27th of April, filed his answer, insisting that the newly discovered matter was wholly inadmissible, in fact and in law, for the purpose of obtaining a rehearing, because it had all existed before the former hearing, and no sufficient reason was shown for the omission to procure it, and because it was cumulative only. He then denied that the patent to Batcheller anticipated his invention, and denied that the several persons named ever saw in use well-tubes like his before his letters-patent were granted. He then took up the several affidavits filed with petition as exhibits, and gave his reasons in each case why they did not sustain the claims of the defendants. In addition to this, he produced a large number of counter-affidavits, which he attached and made exhibits to his answer.

On the 9th of June, the defendants filed a replication to the answer of Craig, and on the same day the following order was entered on the journal of the court:----

'This cause coming to be further heard on a petition of the defendants for a rehearing, and it appearing that the decree had been enrolled before the said petition for a rehearing was filed in this court, it is ordered by the court, the parties consenting, that the petition for rehearing stand as and for a bill of review, and that the answer to...

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