47 F. 515 (S.D.N.Y. 1891), Campbell v. City of New York

Citation:47 F. 515
Case Date:September 04, 1891
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 515

47 F. 515 (S.D.N.Y. 1891)




United States Circuit Court, S.D. New York.

September 4, 1891

Marcus P. Norton, Horace G. Wood, and Harvey D. Hadlock, for orator.

Frederic H. Betts and Samuel R. Betts, for defendants.


This suit is brought upon patent No. 43,920, granted May 24, 1864, on an application filed May 13, 1864, to James Knibbs, assignor, for a relief-valve in steam fire-engine pumps. It was heard in 1881, and the patent was sustained notwithstanding evidence that the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company of Manchester, N.H., had constructed and sold engines containing the invention more than two years before the application for the patent, because one was made to contain it at the request of the inventor for experiment, and the others were made to contain it and sold without his consent and allowance. 20 Blatchf. 67, 9 F. 500. After the decision in Andrews v. Hovey, 123 U.S. 267, 8 S.Ct. 101, and 124 U.S. 694, 8 S.Ct. 676, that the consent and allowance of the inventor was not necessary to defeat a patent by prior construction and use of the invention by others, the defendant moved for a rehearing, on which the patent was for this cause held to be invalid. 35 F. 504. After that, on motion of the orator, the proofs were opened as to use of the invention by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company prior to the application for the patent. 36 F. 260. And after this leave was granted for an amendment of the answer, and for evidence as to the construction of relief-valves on the feed-pumps of the United States naval steamship Powhatan in 1852, and on the steam-ship Knoxville in 1854, and use of them afterwards. Much evidence has been taken upon these issues, and the cause has now been heard on these questions upon all the proofs. The proofs show clearly that the feed-pumps of the Powhatan did have an automatic relief-valve, working against a weight on an outside tube, for the return of the excess of water not needed by the boilers from the discharge to the supply side of the pumps; and that the feed-pumps of the Knoxville had such a valve within the pumps, working against a spring, for the same purpose. If the patent was only for the process of returning any excess of water from the discharge to

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the suction sides of such force-pumps, it would, probably, be defeated by these, and perhaps other, prior devices. But the second claim of the patent is for the connecting of the discharge or force side of steam fire or other engine pumps with the suction or supply side thereof by means of the tube and regulating valve, or any equivalent therefor, and for the purposes described and set forth. It is the mechanism described for the purpose described-- which is the return by this mechanism or its equivalent of the excessive water on restriction of the discharge in a steam fire-engine from the discharge to the suction side of the pump-- that is patented. The pumps of the steam fire-engines to which this invention was applied have a piston working in a barrel in a cylindrical shell between valves at the heads of the shell, which is divided in its interior by a partition each way from the barrel, separating it into suction and discharge sides. The relief-valve of the feed-pumps of the Powhatan engines could not be put upon, nor those of the feed-pumps of the Knoxville engines into, these pumps without material changes in their structure; and neither the weighted valve of the one nor the spring valve of the other would be adequate to the great and sudden variations in delivery and pressure required of steam fire-engines in actual use. A hand-valve, or one which could be worked by hand beyond what would be done by automatic devices, was required. Knibbs' invention was greater than merely putting these vales to a new use for an analogous purpose. It is not the same as the putting the car-truck under the locomotive was in Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Locomotive Truck Co., 110 U.S. 490, 4 S.Ct. 220. It was changing the form and mode of operation of the devices, and adjusting them to new conditions of a use, although analogous, for a new purpose, quite different from that of the steady working of a feed-pump by connection with the engine against the constant and not much varying pressure of the boiler. In view of the changes to be wrought out to meet these new conditions and requirements, the valves of these feed-pumps do not appear to deprive Knibbs' invention, which is admittedly of great utility, of patentable novelty.

The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company built the steam fire-engine Arba Reade for the city of Troy, and delivered it there in March, 1860. Knibbs was foreman having it in charge. He put this invention, in a rather crude form and make, on the outside of that engine. It worked well, but he thought he could improve it. The city wanted another engine, to be called the J. C. Osgood. At his request the authorities consented that the invention should be built into it for further experiment. In July, 1861, the agent and superintendent of that company were at Troy, negotiating for building it, and were shown the invention. Someone suggested that the valve might be made to...

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