34 F.Supp. 146 (D.Conn. 1940), Civ. A. 97, Automatic Devices Corp. v. Cuno Engineering Corp.

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 97
Citation:34 F.Supp. 146
Party Name:Automatic Devices Corp. v. Cuno Engineering Corp.
Case Date:June 07, 1940
Court:United States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, District of Connecticut

Page 146

34 F.Supp. 146 (D.Conn. 1940)

46 U.S.P.Q. 497




Civ. A. No. 97.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 7, 1940

Cooper, Kerr & Dunham, of New York City, and James T. Kline, and George F. Smyth, both of Bridgeport, Conn., for plaintiff.

Charles M. Lyman and Clarence W. Bronson, both of New Haven, Conn., for defendant.

HINCKS, District Judge.

1. Plaintiff is a corporation of Connecticut. It is a patent holding company and does not manufacture or sell cigar lighters. Defendant is a Connecticut Corporation located in Meriden, Connecticut, where it has long been engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigar lighters. The expense of this action is being borne by plaintiff's licensee, Casco Products Corporation, also a Connecticut corporation. 2. This is an action under the patent laws for infringement of claims 1, 2, 3 and 11 of the Mead patent 1,736,544 filed August 24, 1927, dated November 19, 1929 for Cigar Lighter, transferred by mesne assignments to plaintiff February 6, 1936. Infringement is also urged of claims 3 and 20 of the Cohen patent 2,140,311 dated December 13, 1938 for Cigar Lighter, filed January 2, 1937 as an alleged division of Cohen patent 2,117,703 filed July 23, 1932, and issued to plaintiff. Also infringement is urged of claims 1, 2, 10, 16 and 18 of the Cohen patent 2,117,232 dated May 10, 1938 for Cigar Lighter, filed March 29, 1933 and issued to plaintiff. 3. The defendant's device, accused of infringement, described with the aid of numerical references drawn from Exhibits 1A to 1C, consists of two main parts, viz., socket and plug. (a) The socket is a subcombination comprising a metallic cylinder 10 adapted to be inserted through the instrument panel 14 of an automobile. From the rear end of the socket protrudes a stud 11 carrying a rod 12 which connects the inside and outside of the socket. To the outer end of the rod 12 is attached a current supply wire. The inner end of said rod carries three bimetallic fingers 16 which, by their cooperation with the flange 35 of the 'movable' plug hereinafter described, constitute the latch of the device also serving as live contacts. In the base of the socket are three rigid, spaced, base contact abutments 17, against which the cup 28 of the 'fixed' plug rests when the movable plug is in both closed-circuit and open-circuit positions. (b) Associated with the socket, as above described, are other parts including a clamping member 15 which in cooperation with a flange on the outer end of the socket serves to clamp the socket to the panel of the automobile. But except for this clamping function, these associated parts of the socket are not in cooperative relationship with the socket, or indeed with the plug. (c) The plug consists of two relatively movable subcombinations, one of which (hereinafter referred to as the 'fixed' plug) is carried on the sleeve 18, and the other of which (hereinafter referred to as the 'movable' plug) is carried on sleeve 19. The sleeve 18 comprises a tube of insulating material which carries at its inner end (inner with respect to the socket member) a metal sleeve 23 having spoke-like arms 24 joined at the center and carrying a cylindrical block 25. The inner end of the block 25 is engaged by a screw 26 which carries the heating element comprised of the igniter coil 27. The inner convolution of the igniter coil is received in a slot in the head of the screw 26 and the outer convolution of the igniter coil is connected to the cup 28 which surrounds the igniter coil. When the plug is inserted in the socket, the insulating tube 18 slides along and is guided by the inner wall 10 of the socket

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until the igniter cup 28 abuts against the base contacts 17 of the socket. This is the carrying or open-circuit position of the fixed plug; also its operative or closed-circuit position. (d) The movable plug consists of the metal sleeve 19 which is mounted slidably in the interior of the sleeve 23. The sleeve 19 has at its outer edge (outer with respect to the socket) an end wall 20 carrying a stud 21 to which is secured an insulating disc and screw 21(a) on which the knob 22 is threaded. The sleeve 19 at its inner end is shaped into a contact flange 35 adapted to engage and be retained by the bimetallic latch fingers 16 of the socket. With the entire plug in carrying or open-circuit position, the movable plug can be manually pushed inward by pressure on the knob 22 until the flange 35 of the sleeve 19 is engaged by the bimetallic fingers 16 of the socket, thus closing the circuit. (e) There is a coil spring 34 interposed between the spoke-like arms 24 of the sleeve 23 in the fixed plug and the end plate 20 of the sleeve 19 in the movable plug. The movement of the movable plug from carrying to operative position is accomplished against the pressure of this spring, as a result of which the contact cup 28 is held under spring pressure against the butts of the socket as long as the bimetallic fingers 16 in the socket hold the flange 35 of the fixed plug in engagement. When by convection and radiation (but not by conduction) the bimetallic fingers of the socket are spread apart after the igniter coil has been heated to incandescence, the spring 34 returns the movable plug to carrying position with the circuit open, the entire plug fixed and movable being then ready for removal for application. 4. (a) Hammarstrom, 493,380 (application 1892), showed a 'combined Cut-out and Lightning-arrester' by introducing into a line of electrical current a bimetallic member and latch so arranged that 'a strong electric current' would expand the bimetallic part, apparently from the heat generated by the current through the bimetallic part, thus releasing the latch member and breaking the circuit. The invention was apparently primarily directed to the protection of telegraph circuits from the onslaught of a lightning bolt. (b) Denhard, 1,143,572 (application August 31, 1910), disclosed a means for thermostatic control for electric heaters, with particular reference to electric flat-irons. The thermostatic means disclosed contained no parts having coaxial characteristics or any peculiar adaptability to a socket or cylindrical member; nor did the disclosure include any such socket member in its combination. He did, however, disclose as current-breaking means bimetallic strips, responsive to the temperature of the working base of the flat-iron, in cooperation with a latch, which holds the device in closed-circuit position until a predetermined temperature of the iron is attained. (c) Stahl 1,372,207 (application 1919) illustrates a construction in which the bimetallic element of a thermostatic switch functions directly as the latch, as is also the case in Hammarstrom 493,380. (d) Morris 1,376,154 (application 1919) shows a wireless cigar lighter having as an alternative form a semi-automatic feature whereby the plug is held in the open-circuit or carrying position by a spring in the socket. To close the circuit, the entire plug is manually pressed inwardly. It is manually held in this position by the operator against the tension of the spring during the entire heating up period of the igniter coil. Whenever the operator releases the manual pressure on the plug, the spring returns the plug to its normal open-circuit position. There is no thermostatic control in the Morris patent. (e) Zecchini, 1,437,701 (application April 15, 1921) is an example of prior art showing that a coaxial relationship between the parts was the usual arrangement in the conventional plug and socket type of lighter. (f) Copeland, 1,844,206 (application April 18, 1927), disclosed in a lighter socket thermostatic means, consisting of parts in coaxial relationship, acting as an automatic means to break the circuit in response to the temperature of a resistance element. This resistance element did not itself serve as an igniter; rather it served to break the circuit after the lapse of time sufficient to accomplish the incandescence of the igniter and the lighting of a cigar. Copeland showed no plug; rather he contemplated that a cigar should serve as a plug; that the manual insertion of the cigar into the socket should close the circuit and thus start the lighting process. (g) Cohen, 1,944,925 (application April 22, 1929), shows a plug and socket lighter with complete switch-mechanism in the socket. His plug was adapted automatically to break the circuit upon the release of

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manual pressure on its knob. All the essential parts are in coaxial relationship with each other. Devices made under this disclosure were in use for two years prior to the two Cohen patents in suit. This patent shows no thermal control. (h) Wolfson, 1,980,157 (application April 10, 1931), showed a plug and socket lighter, in which all essential parts were in coaxial relationship to each other, with the plug carrying a spring effective, under the...

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