119 F.2d 834 (6th Cir. 1941), 8623, Ternstedt Mfg. Co. v. Motor Products Corporation

Docket Nº:8623.
Citation:119 F.2d 834, 50 U.S.P.Q. 259
Case Date:June 25, 1941
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 834

119 F.2d 834 (6th Cir. 1941)

50 U.S.P.Q. 259




No. 8623.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

June 25, 1941

John H. Bruninga, of St. Louis, Mo., and Alexander F. Baillio, of Detroit, Mich., for appellants.

Merrell E. Clark, of New York City (Merrell E. Clark, of New York City, and J. King Harness and William H. Gross, both of Detroit, Mich., on the brief), for appellee.

Before HICKS, ALLEN, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

HAMILTON, Circuit Judge.

Appellants, Ternstedt Manufacturing Company and General Motors Corporation, appeal from a judgment dismissing their bill of complaint against appellee, Motor

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Products Corporation, for alleged infringement of two patents, namely, the Wright reissue patent No. 18866, dated June 13, 1933, for window construction in the body of a closed vehicle, and Fisher patent No. 2048605, dated July 21, 1936, for closed car ventilation, appellant Ternstedt Manufacturing Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of appellant, General Motors Corporation, being owner of each patent by assignment. Claims 1, 8, 10, 11, 15, 16 and 19 of the Wright patent, five in number. Claim 10 of the Wright patent and claim 1 of the Fisher are typical and are in the margin. 1 The Wright original patent No. 1,861,828 was issued June 7, 1932, on application, serial No. 126,576 filed August 2, 1926, and Wright reissue patent No. 18866 was granted June 13, 1933, on application, serial No. 644,726 filed November 28, 1932. The Fisher patent was issued on application No. 644,622 dated November 28, 1932

Wright claims that, prior to his invention, windows in closed moving vehicles operated only vertically and could not be utilized for interior ventilation without causing uncomfortable drafts and their extensive use for ventilation was not feasible in inclement weather, because of the entry of rain or snow into the interior and that the prior construction of closed vehicle bodies, particularly bodies in which the front door jamb also formed the corner post for the windshield, made difficult the use of a slanting windshield without corner posts so large as to obstruct the vision of occupants. He claims by his invention to have overcome or lessened the effects of all the above difficulties.

The essential features of his improvement of the glass portion of automobile bodies are the division of the old sliding, vertical glass frame into two parts, each separately framed, the back panel moving vertically in channel frames in the conventional manner, and the front panel pivoted on its front edge and the rear end swingable outwardly and retainable in numerous positions by individual control of the occupant. It is operated by irreversible gear connection mounted in the door, which connection is separate from that controlling the back panel.

Broadly stated, Wright proposes to have a window frame with a vertically sliding window adapted for closing or opening the rear portion thereof and a hinged window for opening or closing the remaining front portion and he specifically claims that the swinging front panel has two functions: that of an ejector or extractor of air combined with a shielding effect, which, in conjunction with the operation of the vertical rear panel, causes an inflow of air in the back of the vertical panel and an outflow in the back and front of the pivoted panel, thereby permitting ventilation without subjecting passengers to drafts in the process of changing the air about them. He also claims, by use of this construction, smaller corner posts may be utilized for slanting windshields which is desirable because better vision is afforded.

The rare and the new features, if any, in Fisher's alleged invention are so covered up in his specifications with the familiar and the old as almost to defy detection. Obvious and familiar things often impede us in our search for things that are rare and remote, but by the use of such industry of

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intellect as we possess, busily exerted, sifting the old from the new in Fisher's specification, it appears that the only change he made from that of Wright is that the pivot point for the swinging panel is located intermediate of the front and rear edge of the panel rather than at its front edge, so that when it is swung about this intermediate axis, a portion of the panel swings out into the air stream providing an opening at the front of the axis of the pivots through which air may be introduced.

Considering the concrete exemplification of the invention set forth in the present patents, it appears they are a combination of two elements; (1) a swinging window in the frame of the vehicle which can be positioned to permit the influx of currents of air into the vehicle body and which can also be positioned so that the motion of the vehicle tends to induce air to flow from its interior; (2) a vertical sliding glass window of the conventional type, which complements the swinging window and which at different adjustments in cooperation with the swinging window acts to permit flow of air from the vehicle and its influx therein.

There is no doubt of the utility of this combination. If Wright was its original and first inventor, the device was patentable to him. Under the well-known rule of interpretation of patents, we immediately compare his alleged invention with the prior state of the art in order to ascertain the particulars, if any, in which the concrete exemplification of his invention as set forth in the specifications, had been differentiated from whatever device nearly akin which had preceded it.

The first closed car utilized movable windows for ventilation and window panes adjustable to various angles which, with the car in motion, would draw in fresh air and eject stale air. It is a matter of common knowledge that the closed body type of automobile first came into wide use in 1921. In February, 1922, P. W. Steinbeck, at the annual meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in New York, read a paper entitled 'California Top,' relating to the body structure of motor vehicles in which he described a structure built onto a conventional open body car with the purpose of converting it into a substantially closed car. He pointed out the division of the front window into two panels, the rear one slidable horizontally and the front one...

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