223 F. 359 (2nd Cir. 1915), 161, Brothers v. Lidgerwood Mfg. Co.

Docket Nº161.
Citation223 F. 359
Party NameBROTHERS v. LIDGERWOOD MFG. CO.
Case DateMarch 09, 1915
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 359

223 F. 359 (2nd Cir. 1915)

BROTHERS

v.

LIDGERWOOD MFG. CO.

No. 161.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

March 9, 1915

Page 360

W. F. Brothers, in pro. per.

Livingston Gifford, Leavitt J. Hunt, George W. Betts, Jr., and Charles S. Jones, all of New York City, for defendant in error.

Before LACOMBE, COXE, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.

LACOMBE, Circuit Judge.

At the close of the trial the court directed a verdict for the defendant. After it had been announced that this disposition would be made of the case, the court at the request of the complainant charged the jury and told them to bring in a verdict, apparently on the theory that if it were for defendant it would end the case, but if it were for the complainant it would be set aside and verdict directed as had been indicated. The jury disagreed; thereupon verdict was directed. These superfluous proceedings are of no importance. If the condition of the cause was such when the testimony closed that verdict should have been directed for defendant without passing on any disputed question of fact, the judgment should be affirmed; otherwise it should be reversed.

It is well settled that when the validity of a patent is to be determined and its claim construed by reference to prior patents, about the dates and authenticity of which there is no controversy, the trial judge will usually construe those documents as he would other documents; his doing so does not invade the province of the jury. There may be exceptional cases, but this is not one of them. The first questions, therefore, for this court to determine, are whether, in view of the prior art patents, the one in suit is valid, and what is the scope of its claims. Besides the prior patents, there was an alleged prior use at the Chicago drainage canal, but as to what that was there was conflicting testimony; therefore it must be assumed that complainant's account of it is correct, and we cannot consider it either as impairing the validity of the patent or as in any way affecting the construction of its claims.

On the question of infringement there seems to be no question as to what the structure was which defendant erected on the line of Panama Canal; as to the operation of that structure there is a conflict of

Page 361

testimony, and we must here assume the complainant's version of such operation to be correct.

The patent is for an improvement in cable cranes with gravity anchors. The following drawings will make the description more intelligible:

(Image Omitted)

The object of the invention, as stated in the specifications, is to facilitate the erection and operation of a suspension cable, and consists in--

'combining a tension weight upon the end of the cable with an inclined sheers or post adapted to transform the vertical tension of the weight into a horizontal tension upon the cable. * * * By inclining the sheer poles and weighting their upper ends the tension of the cable is converted into a thrust at the lower ends of the sheers; but I have termed the device a 'gravity anchor,' as it depends for its efficiency entirely upon the operation of gravity.'

In the drawings A is the cable, D the inclined sheer poles or post, H the load in the carrier which travels on the cable, and F the weight upon the end of the cable. The sheers are set at an angle of preferably 45 degrees to the cable.

'With the sheer posts set at this angle, the weight of the poles, if permitted to yield, exerts a very material tension upon the cable independently of the tension weight, and the latter may be proportioned to produce the additional tension required to strain the cable in the required degree. * * * It is well known that the tension at the ends of a suspending cable is much greater with a given load at the middle of the cable than when the load is close to either abutment, and my improved anchorage varies the angle of the cable in proportion to the load, if the sheer poles be...

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