Seager v. Stewart-Warner Speedometer Corp., 629.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Citation277 F. 824
Docket Number629.
Decision Date08 October 1921

277 F. 824

SEAGER et al.

No. 629.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.

October 8, 1921

Decree October 17, 1921.

Lynn A. Williams and Clifford C. Bradbury, both of Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs.

George L. Wilkinson and Charles S. Burton, both of Chicago, Ill., for defendant.

CARPENTER, District Judge.

This cause is concerned with the charge by the plaintiffs that the defendant's Stewart vacuum gasoline system infringes Seager patent, No. 984,032, issued February 14, 1911, and Harrington patent, No. 983,994, issued February 14, 1911. No question is raised as to the title of the plaintiffs to the patents sued upon.

Seager's patent has to do with a stationary engine, where the mixture was delivered without the interposition of a throttle. Harrington adapted Seager to use on an engine which in effect had an interposed throttle. Prior to Seager the nozzle of the carbureter commonly was arranged so as to suck the requisite fuel from a float chamber, where the inflow of gasoline was so controlled that it could [277 F. 825] not exceed a predetermined level; the supply of gasoline to the float chamber being had by gravity from a storage tank at a higher level.

The record discloses many objections to the gravity supply system. To overcome this it was common, prior to Seager, to pump fuel by mechanical means from a low-level storage tank of large capacity into a small reservoir open to atmospheric pressure, and maintained at a constant level, either by overflow or float control. From this small reservoir the carbureter nozzle was supplied. The great objection to this arrangement was its high first cost and frequent derangement of the complicated pump and pump-driving mechanism. Its real merit was that it supplied fuel to the nozzle of the carbureter under substantially constant and uniform conditions, whereby the correct mixture could be maintained.

Then came Seager, who shows in his patent an auxiliary reservoir, so located in an elevated position as to supply fuel to the nozzle of the carbureter under substantially constant and uniform conditions, and into which reservoir the fuel is elevated from a low-level storage tank by means of the same unimpaired suction of an internal combustion engine as that which draws the air through the carbureter and the fuel from the carbureter nozzle; this elevation of fuel to the secondary reservoir being effected independently of the carbureter nozzle, so that the supply to the carbureter is unaffected by the location of the main storage tank or the level of the fuel contained in it.

Structurally, Seager's combination is perfectly stated in claim 5, which is here in suit, and which calls for the combination with (1) a carbureter of the suction type, of (2) a reservoir for liquid, (3) a discharge conduit leading from said reservoir to said carbureter, (4) a conduit for supplying liquid to said reservoir, (5) from a source at a lower level, (6) and means for feeding the liquid through said supply conduit by the suction of the suction producing means of the carbureter, comprising a conduit connecting said reservoir with the suction means, for the purpose described.

Seager applied his invention commercially to a single-cylinder fourcycle engine, in which the suction in the manifold is of an intermittent character, such as is necessary to be developed in the auxiliary reservoir, as shown in the Seager patent. The Seager combination, applied without change or addition to a four or a six cylinder automobile engine, in which a throttle is used to vary the speed and power output of the engine, makes it necessary, to effect an intermission of suction and nonsuction periods in the auxiliary reservoir, only to shift from time to time the throttle to one side or another of a critical position.

Defendant contended that Seager's combination could not be used upon an automobile, 'because an automobile engine must be controlled by a throttle, ' but the plaintiff's attorneys, during the course of the trial, applied the Seager combination, without change, to a modern six-cylinder Buick automobile, and demonstrated by some 30 or 40 miles of driving over Chicago streets the maintenance of substantially constant speeds from nothing up to 42 miles an hour. From this demonstration I conclude that Seager's combination will operate in the manner and for the purpose described in his patent, and whenever [277 F. 826] the suction in the auxiliary reservoir is intermittent. The record does not disclose that, prior to the date of his patent, Seager ever thus applied his invention to a multi-cylinder engine. This, however, is of no consequence, because Seager was entitled to cover all of the uses in the art to which his invention might be applied.

Harrington, who collaborated with Seager to make a practical use of Seager's invention in an engine having a restricted or throttle intake, devised an improvement upon Seager, which consisted in dividing the auxiliary reservoir into two superimposed chambers, and placing in the dividing wall a downwardly opening check valve, controlling the communication between the upper and lower chambers. He opened the lower chamber continuously to atmospheric pressure, so that the discharge of fuel into the carbureter would at all times be independent of the suction in the upper chamber. Stewart-Warner Company's defense, as stated by its counsel, is 'primarily noninfringement,' but that an examination of the prior art 'is believed to fully warrant the secondary defense of...

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  • American Chain Co., Inc. v. Cox Brass Mfg. Co.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • May 26, 1922
    ......See. Seager v. Stewart-Warner Speedometer Corporation. (D.C.) 277 F. ......

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