Time Commercial Financing Corp. v. Davis, No. 17483

CourtUtah Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHOWE; HALL
Citation657 P.2d 234
Docket NumberNo. 17483
Decision Date08 October 1982
PartiesTIME COMMERCIAL FINANCING CORP., a Utah corporation, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Carol Brimhall DAVIS, Walker Bank & Trust Company, Administrator with the Will annexed of the Estate of Ray S. Brimhall, deceased, et al., Defendant and Respondent. WALKER BANK & TRUST COMPANY, Administrator with the Will annexed of the Estate of Ray S. Brimhall, deceased, Defendant, Third-Party Plaintiff and Respondent. v. BRIMCO HYDRAULICS & ENGINEERING, INC., a corporation, et al., Third-Party Defendants and Respondents.

Page 234

657 P.2d 234
TIME COMMERCIAL FINANCING CORP., a Utah corporation,
Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
Carol Brimhall DAVIS, Walker Bank & Trust Company,
Administrator with the Will annexed of the Estate
of Ray S. Brimhall, deceased, et al.,
Defendant and Respondent.
WALKER BANK & TRUST COMPANY, Administrator with the Will
annexed of the Estate of Ray S. Brimhall,
deceased, Defendant, Third-Party
Plaintiff and Respondent.
v.
BRIMCO HYDRAULICS & ENGINEERING, INC., a corporation, et
al., Third-Party Defendants and Respondents.
No. 17483.
Supreme Court of Utah.
Oct. 8, 1982.

Page 235

Robert T. Mallinckrodt, David O. Seeley, Salt Lake City, for plaintiff and appellant.

David V. Trask, Marcus G. Theodore, Salt Lake City, for defendant and respondent.

HOWE, Justice:

Plaintiff Time Commercial Financing Corporation (Finance Company) seeks reversal of a jury verdict upholding the validity of two United States patents on inventions by the deceased, Ray S. Brimhall. Defendants Carol Brimhall Davis and the Estate of Ray S. Brimhall, also a third-party plaintiff, (Brimhalls) seek affirmance of the judgment and a remand to the trial court for an accounting and recovery of royalties due them on certain cab latches and valve systems produced by the Finance Company pursuant to a judicially implied patent license. They also seek a remand to the trial court to resolve the remaining factual issues regarding the scope of the patent license.

It would be a work of supererogation to recount all of the facts of this case. The essential ones are the following: In 1965 Ray S. Brimhall invented a hand pump hydraulic piston system (valve system) which enables a mechanic to tilt open the cabs of large semi-truck tractors without assistance (for the purpose of servicing the engines). In 1967 he also invented a combined cab latch with spring which holds the cab closed when the truck tractor is in operation and acts as a shock absorber to cushion the ride for the driver. He formed his own company, Brimco Hydraulics and Engineering, Inc., (Brimco) third-party defendants, in order to produce his inventions. He died in 1969.

In 1975 the trial court interpreted the deceased's employment, consulting, and management arrangement with Brimco as a contract whereby he owned the patents, inventions and improvements which subsequently passed into his estate upon his death; the court also granted an exclusive contract license to Brimco to manufacture, develop and sell the deceased's inventions for which his estate would receive a two percent royalty. After the death of Ray S. Brimhall, Brimco factored certain of its accounts receivables and entered into a loan with the Finance Company. The Finance Company foreclosed upon the loan and succeeded to the exclusive license under the two patents for the duration of the lives of the patents.

The Finance Company makes and sells several models of the cab latch defined by Patent No. 3,797,882 (Cab Latch Patent) and makes parts for one model of the valve defined by Patent No. 3,430,653 (Valve System Patent). The Finance Company also makes and sells several other cab latches and valves under other patents obtained by it and which it contends are not covered by the two Brimhall patents. Whether royalties are owed on sales (primarily to General Motors) under one of these other patents (or "adaptations" as the Brimhalls contend) is an issue which remains unresolved in the trial court. A reversal of the trial court ruling would foreclose this issue.

At trial the Finance Company challenged the Brimhall patents on the ground that (1) the cab latch patent was "on sale" more than one year prior to the filing of the application for patent, contrary to the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 102(b), and (2) the valve system patent was not new and was not unobvious, contrary to the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 102(a) and 35 U.S.C. 103. The

Page 236

jury returned answers to interrogatories upholding the validity of both patents.

The Finance Company makes four arguments on appeal: (1) the jury and trial court erred in finding that Brimhall had not made an offer for sale of the cab latch invention more than one year prior to the patent application; (2) the valve system patent was invalid because it was anticipated; (3) the valve system patent was invalid because it was obvious; and (4) the trial court erred in allowing the jury to consider an agreement involving one of the Finance Company's witnesses over its objection that it was prejudicial. With the exception of the last argument, the thrust of the Finance Company's argument centers on its dispute with the jury's interpretation of the evidence presented to it.

This Court upholds the findings of a jury where there is competent evidence to sustain them. Watters v. Querry, Utah, 626 P.2d 455 (1981); Durfey v. Board of Ed. of Wayne County School Dist., Utah, 604 P.2d 480 (1979); Maltby v. Cox Const. Co. Inc., Utah, 598 P.2d 336 (1979); Uinta Pipeline Corp. v. White Superior Company, Utah, 546 P.2d 885 (1976); Nelson v. Peterson, Utah, 542 P.2d 1075 (1975); Fuller v. Zinik Sporting Goods Co., Utah, 538 P.2d 1036 (1975); Barlow Upholstery & Furniture Co. v. Emmel, Utah, 533 P.2d 900 (1975); In re Hubbard's Estate, 30 Utah 2d 260, 516 P.2d 741 (1973). In Ute-Cal Land Development Corporation v. Sather, Utah, 605 P.2d 1240 (1980) this Court stated:

In viewing this evidence, this Court will upset the jury verdict only upon a showing by the appealing party that the evidence so clearly preponderates in his favor reasonable people could not differ on the outcome of the case.

605 P.2d at 1245.

The Finance Company's reliance upon Lake v. Hermes Associates, Utah, 552 P.2d 126 (1976) is unpersuasive since that case, which involved a breach of contract concerning a shopping mall development, was tried to a judge. This Court held that standard presumptions of credibility and verity of findings did not apply since the trial judge was in no better position to interpret documents than is a reviewing court. In this case, the jury was in an advantaged position and was asked to interpret evidence apart from documents. The Finance Company's citation (without argument) of Lake v. Hermes Associates, supra, fails to convince us that the ultimate issues of fact should be taken from the jury here on review. The unaltered standard requires that a jury verdict not be upset unless the evidence clearly preponderates for the appellant to the extent that reasonable people could not differ on the outcome of the case.

CAB LATCH PATENT

The Finance Company contends that the deceased, Brimhall, offered the cab latch invention to Kenworth Motor Truck Company for sale more than one year prior to the filing of the application for patent. 35 U.S.C. 102(b) provides:

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless the invention was ... in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States.

An invention is placed "on sale" whenever the inventor or his company engages in any activity to sell the invention, including making an offer for sale. General Motors Corp. v. Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., 467 F.Supp. 1142, 205 U.S.P.Q. 158, (S.D.Ohio 1979). See also Timely Products Corp. v. Arron, 523 F.2d 288, 187 U.S.P.Q. 257 (2d Cir.1975); Amphenol Corp. v. General Time Corp., 397 F.2d 431, 158 U.S.P.Q. 113 (7th Cir.1968). However, the invention that is the subject of sale must be a reality in the sense that it is beyond the stage of experimentation. Robbins Co. v. Lawrence Manufacturing Co., 482 F.2d 426, 178 U.S.P.Q. 577 (9th Cir.1973); Hobbs v. United States Energy Commission, 451 F.2d 849, 171 U.S.P.Q. 713 (5th Cir.1971); See also Austin v. Marco Dental Products, Inc., 560 F.2d 966, 195 U.S.P.Q. 529 (9th Cir.1977); In re Yarn Processing Patent Validity Litigation, 498 F.2d 271, 183 U.S.P.Q. 65 (5th Cir.1974), cert. den.,...

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5 practice notes
  • Krauss v. Utah State Dept. of Transp., No. 920680-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 19, 1993
    ...could not differ on the outcome of the case." White v. Fox, 665 P.2d 1297, 1301 (Utah 1983) (quoting Time Commercial Fin. Corp. v. Davis, 657 P.2d 234, 236 (Utah In contemplation of the marshaling requirement, Krauss submits that there is no evidence he can point to that supports the jury's......
  • Hillier v. Lamborn, No. 860030-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • August 5, 1987
    ...of fact, its verdict will not be disturbed if it is supported by any competent evidence. Time Commercial Financing Corp. v. Davis, 657 P.2d 234, 236 (Utah 1982); Uinta Pipeline Corp. v. White Superior Co., 546 P.2d 885, 886 (Utah 1976); Nelson v. Peterson, 542 P.2d 1075, 1076 (Utah 1975). F......
  • Rees v. Intermountain Health Care, Inc., No. 890170
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • March 26, 1991
    ...1 See, e.g., Stanger v. Sentinel Sec. Life Ins., 669 P.2d 1201, 1204 (Utah 1983); Time Commercial Financing Corp. v. Davis, 657 P.2d 234, 236 (Utah 1982); Dairyland Ins. v. Holder, 641 P.2d 136, 138 (Utah 2 See, e.g., Stanger, 669 P.2d at 1204. 3 Dr. Rees's claim is essentially breach of co......
  • Stanger v. Sentinel Sec. Life Ins. Co., No. 17757
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 11, 1983
    ...P.2d 966 (1982) and uphold them, so long as there is competent evidence to sustain them. Time Commercial Financing Corp. v. Davis, Utah, 657 P.2d 234 (1982) and cases therein Sentinel contends that both Stanger and Anderson were bound by their written agreements as a matter of law, that the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Krauss v. Utah State Dept. of Transp., No. 920680-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 19, 1993
    ...not differ on the outcome of the case." White v. Fox, 665 P.2d 1297, 1301 (Utah 1983) (quoting Time Commercial Fin. Corp. v. Davis, 657 P.2d 234, 236 (Utah In contemplation of the marshaling requirement, Krauss submits that there is no evidence he can point to that supports the jury's ......
  • Hillier v. Lamborn, No. 860030-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • August 5, 1987
    ...of fact, its verdict will not be disturbed if it is supported by any competent evidence. Time Commercial Financing Corp. v. Davis, 657 P.2d 234, 236 (Utah 1982); Uinta Pipeline Corp. v. White Superior Co., 546 P.2d 885, 886 (Utah 1976); Nelson v. Peterson, 542 P.2d 1075, 1076 (Utah 1975). F......
  • Rees v. Intermountain Health Care, Inc., No. 890170
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • March 26, 1991
    ...1 See, e.g., Stanger v. Sentinel Sec. Life Ins., 669 P.2d 1201, 1204 (Utah 1983); Time Commercial Financing Corp. v. Davis, 657 P.2d 234, 236 (Utah 1982); Dairyland Ins. v. Holder, 641 P.2d 136, 138 (Utah 2 See, e.g., Stanger, 669 P.2d at 1204. 3 Dr. Rees's claim is essentially breach of co......
  • Stanger v. Sentinel Sec. Life Ins. Co., No. 17757
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 11, 1983
    ...P.2d 966 (1982) and uphold them, so long as there is competent evidence to sustain them. Time Commercial Financing Corp. v. Davis, Utah, 657 P.2d 234 (1982) and cases therein Sentinel contends that both Stanger and Anderson were bound by their written agreements as a matter of law, that the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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