MOS CORPORATION v. John I. Haas Co., No. 20750.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMERRILL and DUNIWAY, Circuit , and CROCKER
Citation375 F.2d 614
PartiesM. O. S. CORPORATION, Appellant, v. JOHN I. HAAS CO., Inc., Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 20750.
Decision Date21 March 1967

375 F.2d 614 (1967)

M. O. S. CORPORATION, Appellant,
v.
JOHN I. HAAS CO., Inc., Appellee.

No. 20750.

United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit.

March 21, 1967.


375 F.2d 615

Robert S. Dunham, New York City, Kenneth C. Hawkins, Yakima, Wash., for appellant.

George C. Twohy, Yakima, Wash., C. Willard Hayes, Edgar H. Martin, Cushman, Darby & Cushman, Washington, D. C., for appellee.

Before MERRILL and DUNIWAY, Circuit Judges, and CROCKER, District Judge.

DUNIWAY, Circuit Judge:

Appellant, the holder of the patent in suit, appeals from a judgment in favor of appellee in an action for infringement. This is the second appeal in this case. In

375 F.2d 616
M. O. S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 9 Cir., 1964, 332 F.2d 910, we reversed a judgment in favor of appellee. We held that it was error for the trial court to apply the doctrine of file wrapper estoppel in deciding that the patent was not infringed. We did not rule on the validity of the patent. Upon remand, the trial court received additional evidence. It again found that the patent was not infringed, but did not pass upon its validity, although that question was expressly raised by appellee, was stated as an issue in the amended pretrial order, and was litigated. On the present appeal, we affirm, but on the ground that the patent is invalid, rather than that appellee did not infringe

Ordinarily, we would confine ourselves to the grounds for decision acted upon by the trial court. The Supreme Court, however, has announced certain policies applicable to patent litigation that convince us that we should consider the validity of the patent in this case, even though the trial court did not pass upon the question, confining itself to a holding that there was no infringement.

"A patent by its very nature is affected with a public interest. As recognized by the Constitution, it is a special privilege designed to serve the public purpose of promoting the `Progress of Science and useful Arts.\' At the same time, a patent is an exception to the general rule against monopolies and to the right to access to a free and open market. The far-reaching social and economic consequences of a patent, therefore, give the public a paramount interest in seeing that patent monopolies spring from backgrounds free from fraud or other inequitable conduct and that such monopolies are kept within their legitimate scope."

Precision Instrument Mfg. Co. v. Automotive Maintenance Machinery Co., 1945, 324 U.S. 806, 816, 65 S.Ct. 993, 998, 89 L.Ed. 1381.1

This substantive policy is accompanied and implemented by a procedural admonition, stated by Mr. Justice Jackson in Sinclair & Carroll Co. v. Interchemical Corp., 1945, 325 U.S. 327, at 330, 65 S.Ct. 1143, at 1145, 89 L.Ed. 1644:

"There has been a tendency among the lower federal courts in infringement suits to dispose of them where possible on the ground of non-infringement without going into the question of validity of the patent. Irvin v. Buick Motor Co., 8 Cir., 88 F.2d 947, 951; Aero Spark Plug Co. v. B. G. Corp., 2 Cir., 130 F.2d 290; Franklin v. Masonite Corp., 2 Cir., 132 F.2d 800. It has come to be recognized, however, that of the two questions, validity has the greater public importance, Cover v. Schwartz, 2 Cir., 133 F.2d 541, and the District Court in this case followed what will usually be the better practice by inquiring fully into the validity of this patent."

At first, this court, as well as the other Courts of Appeals, had some

375 F.2d 617
difficulty in deciding whether this was a rule or only an admonition.2 However, it is now settled that it is an admonition.3 This, however, does not mean that it is to be lightly disregarded. It does mean that in some cases the policy announced cannot be directly applied by the Court of Appeals, as in a case where the issue was not litigated in the trial court. In such a case, because there is no sufficient record upon which to base a decision, the Court of Appeals has an option to follow the trial court and decide only the issue decided by that court;4 or to remand for a trial of the validity or patentability issue when that seems appropriate.5 But if the issue was litigated in the trial court, and if the record presented is such as to permit decision, the Court of Appeals can, and, at least where the answer seems clear, should decide the issue.6 While it has often been said that patentability is a question of fact, it is also true that in patent cases, as in most others, the record in the particular case may be such that the question becomes one of law. Indeed, while fact finding is essential to the presentation of the question, the ultimate question, in the light of the facts disclosed by the record and found by the trial court, is always one of law.7 Here, we think that the record and the findings present a question of law, which we can and do decide. Our doing so is a particular application of the more general rule that a Court of Appeals may affirm on any ground squarely presented on the record, even though the trial court may have based its decision on a different ground.8

In the present case, the trial court followed "the better practice" in part. Appellee expressly attacked the validity of the patent. The court received much evidence as to the prior art, the need that was to be met in the industry, and the nature and success of the claimed invention, as well as the differences between the patented invention and the appellee's methods. But it confined its decision to the question of infringement, relying upon the prior art to support its view that the patent should have a narrow, rather than a broad construction.

375 F.2d 618

The patent in suit is the Meisler Patent, No. 2,674,535. The principal claim is No. 1, which reads as follows:

"1. A method for shipping hops comprising the steps of compressing at least one bale of hops of rectangular cross section into a bale of circular cross section, fastening the bale of circular cross section with spaced flexible members disposed transversely therearound, placing the bale of circular cross section into two steel drums with the flanges around the open ends thereof superposed, and sealing the superposed flanges of the drum."

Claims 2-5 depend upon claim 1.9 Claim 6 reads:

"6. A container for a bale of hops formed into a unit of circular cross section, the container comprising two drums with open ends, the open end of each drum having an outwardly and thence inwardly directed flange circumferentially formed therearound and the flanges being superposed to form an outer circumferential recess there-between, a rubber tube disposed in the recess, an adhesive strip disposed over the tube and the contiguous outer surface portions of the flanges, a resilient band disposed over the adhesive strip and the contiguous outer surface portion of the flanges, a plurality of spaced clips transversely disposed around the resilient band and the contiguous outer surface portions of the flanges, and means for exhausting the air from the drums."

Claim 7 is the same except that it substitutes a continuous steel channel member for the resilient band and clips. Claim 8 returns to the method outlined in claim 1, but described the compression of two bales instead of "at least one bale," the two being compressed into a cylinder that will fit into two steel drums, inserting a preservative,...

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29 practice notes
  • Sellers v. Regents of University of California, No. 23581.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 17, 1970
    ...is our prerogative. Jaffke v. Dunham, Trustee, 352 U.S. 280, 281, 77 S.Ct. 307, 1 L.Ed.2d 314 (1957); M.O.S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1967); Rizal Commercial Banking v. Putnam, 429 F.2d 1112 (9th Cir., July 10, Presented for decision are two basic issues: (1) d......
  • Jacobson v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, LAYTON-TAHOE
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 5, 1977
    ...presented on the record. Jaffke v. Dunham, 352 U.S. 280, 281, 77 S.Ct. 307, 1 L.Ed.2d 314 (1957); M.O.S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1967). 18 The Eleventh Amendment provides: "The Judicial Power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any su......
  • Jacobson v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, LAYTON-TAHOE
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 21, 1977
    ...presented on the record. Jaffke v. Dunham, 352 U.S. 280, 281, 77 S.Ct. 307, 1 L.Ed.2d 314 (1957); M. O. S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1967). The issue of the Eleventh Amendment as a bar to suing the states was raised by at least one party Even had it not been, &q......
  • Flour City Architectural Met. v. Alpana Alum. Prod., Inc., No. 71-1161
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • January 13, 1972
    ...Circuit: Armour & Co. v. Wilson & Co., 274 F.2d 143 (7th Cir. 1960) (en banc). Ninth Circuit: M.O.S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614 (9th Cir. D.C. Circuit: International Salt Co. v. Commissioner of Patents, 140 U.S.App. D.C. 378, 436 F.2d 126 (1970); Higley v. Brenner, 128 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Sellers v. Regents of University of California, No. 23581.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 17, 1970
    ...is our prerogative. Jaffke v. Dunham, Trustee, 352 U.S. 280, 281, 77 S.Ct. 307, 1 L.Ed.2d 314 (1957); M.O.S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1967); Rizal Commercial Banking v. Putnam, 429 F.2d 1112 (9th Cir., July 10, Presented for decision are two basic issues: (1) d......
  • Jacobson v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, LAYTON-TAHOE
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 5, 1977
    ...presented on the record. Jaffke v. Dunham, 352 U.S. 280, 281, 77 S.Ct. 307, 1 L.Ed.2d 314 (1957); M.O.S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1967). 18 The Eleventh Amendment provides: "The Judicial Power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any su......
  • Jacobson v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, LAYTON-TAHOE
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 21, 1977
    ...presented on the record. Jaffke v. Dunham, 352 U.S. 280, 281, 77 S.Ct. 307, 1 L.Ed.2d 314 (1957); M. O. S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1967). The issue of the Eleventh Amendment as a bar to suing the states was raised by at least one party Even had it not been, &q......
  • Flour City Architectural Met. v. Alpana Alum. Prod., Inc., No. 71-1161
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • January 13, 1972
    ...Circuit: Armour & Co. v. Wilson & Co., 274 F.2d 143 (7th Cir. 1960) (en banc). Ninth Circuit: M.O.S. Corp. v. John I. Haas Co., 375 F.2d 614 (9th Cir. D.C. Circuit: International Salt Co. v. Commissioner of Patents, 140 U.S.App. D.C. 378, 436 F.2d 126 (1970); Higley v. Brenner, 128 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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