105 U.S. 126 (1882), Ager v. Murray

Citation:105 U.S. 126, 26 L.Ed. 942
Party Name:AGER v. MURRAY.
Case Date:March 06, 1882
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 126

105 U.S. 126 (1882)

26 L.Ed. 942




United States Supreme Court.

March 06, 1882

APPEAL from the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.

The case is stated in the opinion of the court.


Submitted on printed briefs by Mr. Thomas T. Crittenden and Mr. Warwick Martin for the appellants, and by Mr. Lemon G. Hine and Mr. S. T. Thomas for the appellee.


MR. JUSTICE GRAY delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a bill in equity by a judgment creditor to subject to the payment of his debt the interest of his debtor in patent-rights. The case was heard in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia upon bill and answers, by which it appears to be as follows:----

On the 10th of April, 1876, Talbot C. Murray, in an action at law upon a promissory note, recovered judgment against Wilson Ager for the sum of $2,164.66, with interest and costs. Upon that judgment a writ of fieri facias was issued, and returned nulla bona. Wilson Ager had no real or personal property in the District subject to execution at law, but was the owner of sundry letters-patent issued to him by the United States for useful inventions, which, if sold, would produce more than enough money to satisfy that judgment. On the 26th of September, 1876, he conveyed all his right and interest in these letters-patent to the other defendant, Elisha C. Ager, who owned an equitable interest of one-third therein, and who, on the 8th of October, 1877, reconveyed the patent-rights to Wilson by an assignment which was not recorded in the Patent Office. Wilson Ager resides in the District of Columbia, and the other defendant resides in the State of California, and both have appeared in the cause and answered to the merits of the bill.

The bill prays for an injunction against further assignment pending the suit, and that the patents be sold under the direction of the court, and the proceeds of the sale applied to the payment of the judgment debt, and the defendant, Wilson Ager, be required to execute such assignment as may be necessary to vest title in the purchaser or purchasers, in conformity with the patent laws, and for further relief. The decree is, that in default of his paying by a certain day the judgment mentioned in the bill, will interest and costs, and the costs of this suit, the patent-rights be sold and an assignment thereof executed by him as prayed for, and that, in default of his executing such assignment, some suitable person be appointed trustee to execute the same.

From that decree the original defendants have appealed to this court; and the single question argued before us is whether a patent-right may be ordered by a court of equity to be sold and the proceeds applied to the payment of a judgment debt of the patentee.

A patent or a copyright, which vests the sole and exclusive right of making, using, and vending the invention, or of publishing and selling the...

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