31 F. 344 (W.D.Pa. 1887), Cary v. Lovell Mfg. Co.

Citation:31 F. 344
Party Name:CARY and others v. LOVELL MANUF'G CO., Limited.
Case Date:June 24, 1887
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Page 344

31 F. 344 (W.D.Pa. 1887)

CARY and others



United States Circuit Court, W.D. Pennsylvania.

June 24, 1887

Causten Brown, Wm. C. Witter, and Wm. H. Kenyon, for complainants.

Wm. Bakewell and John K. Hallock, for respondents.

Coram McKennan and Acheson, JJ.


This suit is for the infringement of letters patent No. 116,266, dated June 27, 1871, granted to Alanson Cary, for an 'improvement in furniture springs.' The invention relates to spiral springs, extensively used in upholstering sofas and chairs, and for bed-bottoms, etc., which are usually made in a conical form, of hard-drawn steel wire, coiled and forced to the proper shape. The specification states that, the metal being greatly condensed and hardened in the process of drawing the wire, a good degree of elasticity is thereby given to the wire; but that in bending or coiling the wire into the proper shape the metal is unavoidably weakened,-- the outer portion of the wire coil being drawn or stretched, while the inner portion is crushed or shortened; and that thereby the elasticity, strength, and durability of the spring are much reduced. The invention consists in a process for restoring to the wire of the spring the strength and elasticity which it lost by this distortion, and this is effected by subjecting the spring, after it has been completed

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in the usual manner, for the space of about eight minutes, 'to a degree of heat known as 'spring-temper heat,' which is about 600 deg., more or less,' whereby a complete homogeneity of the metal is produced, and greatly increased strength, elasticity, and durability are imparted to the spring. The claim of the patent is for 'the method of tempering furniture or other coiled springs, substantially as hereinbefore described.'

The process of the patent, as will be perceived on an inspection of the specification, is based on the fact that the evils resulting from the distortion of hard-drawn steel wire, in the ordinary operation of coiling it into springs for furniture, can be removed by a single application of heat, as set forth, so as to result in a greatly improved spring. Of the great utility and value of the patented process there can be no question, under the proofs. Undoubtedly it secures the beneficial results specified in the patent; and hence furniture springs so treated, upon their introduction into the market, came into immediate and very general use, largely superseding springs not subjected to the treatment.

In this connection, another significant fact, well established by the proofs, deserves mention. Experts and others practically familiar with the treatment and behavior of steel were greatly surprised at the result effected by the patented process, it being contrary to all their previous conceptions and experience.

This patent was passed on, and its validity sustained, on final hearing, and after full consideration, by the circuit court for the Southern district of New York, in the case of Cary v. Wolff, 24 F. 139. In the course of his opinion, Judge WHEELER there says:

'The process of the patent does not merely add temper as a quality to steel which did not have it before. It restores the lost strength and elasticity of the wire consequent to the displacement of the particles of which it is composed by the process of making it into springs. The discovery was that the application of heat would effect that restoration, which is a different thing from tempering. Subjection to heat for casting and tempering, and to produce malleability, and for...

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