Topliff v. Topliff Topliff v. Topliff

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBROWN
Citation145 U.S. 156,12 S.Ct. 825,36 L.Ed. 658
Decision Date02 May 1892
PartiesTOPLIFF v. TOPLIFF et al. TOPLIFF et al. v. TOPLIFF

145 U.S. 156
12 S.Ct. 825
36 L.Ed. 658
TOPLIFF
v.
TOPLIFF et al.
TOPLIFF et al.
v.
TOPLIFF.
May 2, 1892.

STATEMENT BY MR. JUSTICE BROWN.

Page 157

This was a bill in equity for the infringement of three patents, namely: (1) Patent No. 108,085, issued October 11, 1870, to John B. Augur, for an improvement in gearing for wagons; (2) patent No. 123,937, issued February 20, 1872, to Cyrus W. Saladee, for an improvement in carriage springs, and mode of attachment; (3) patent No. 122,079, issued December 19, 1871, to John A. Topliff and George H. Ely, for an improvement in connecting carriage springs, reissued March 28, 1876, (No. 7,017.)

The patent to Augur consisted in a mode of equalizing the pressure upon two carriage springs by 'connecting together by a rigid rod the two pivoted links upon the clips employed on the hind axle, so that, when the weight is upon one spring, both springs, by reason of the connecting rod, shall be caused to work together, thus preventing the roll.' The effect of this device is such that, if a heavy weight is thrown upon one spring, as, for instance, by a person getting into a buggy at one side, the pressure is borne equally by both springs. The claims alleged to be infringed were the following:

'(1) The herein-described method of equalizing the action of springs of vehicles and distributing the weight of the load.

'(2) The combination of the pivoted links with a rod con-

Page 158

necting the same, the rod compelling both links to move in unison, as and for the purpose described.'

The reissued patent to Topliff and Ely, as stated by the patentees, 'relates to side half-elliptic spring vehicles, and has for its object suspending the front and rear ends of the springs directly to the rear axle and front bolster of the running gear by means of two separate connecting rods, the outer ends of which have formed upon them, as a part of the same, and at right angles with the rod, short arms, between which the ends of the springs, respectively, are secured and operated, the connecting rod receiving the rear ends of the springs, being hinged to the rear axle, while the rod receiving the front ends of the springs is, in like manner, connected to the front bolster in such manner that the vibration of the springs will impart a corresponding rotation to the connecting rods front and back, and so that the depression of either spring will, by the rotary action imparted to the connecting rod, compel a corresponding depression of the other, and thus compel both springs to vibrate together, and move in unison one with the other, equalizing their action and the weight imposed upon them, as well as to prevent side motion to the body of the vehicle.'

There were but two claims to this pattent, which read as follows:

'(1) The combination of two connecting rods located at the front and rear ends of a wagon body, and arranged to turn in their bearings, with a pair of half-elliptic springs, whereby the springs are caused to yield in unison with each other, substantially as and for the purpose set forth.

'(2) The combination of the connecting rods, BB', provided with arms at their ends, with the half eliptic springs, AA', substantially as and for the purpose set forth.'

The answer admitted that the defendant had manufactured and sold connecting rods for carriages substantially like those manufactured by the plaintiffs, and claimed the right so to do, alleging that plaintiffs' patents were both void for want of novelty; and that the reissued patent of Topliff and Ely was not for the same invention as the original, and denied that

Page 159

his manufacture infringed in any way upon any right which plaintiffs had to the invention.

The case was heard in the court below upon pleadings and proofs, the court holding that the Augur patent and the Topliff and Ely reissue were good and valid, and that the defendant was guilty of infringement. An injunction was allowed, and the case was referred to a master to take an account of profits and damages. The master reported the sum of $8,480.54 to be due the plaintiffs from the defendant as damages for the infringement, and a final decree was entered for that amount, from which both parties appealed to this court.

W. W. Boynton, John C. Hale, and L. L. Leggett, for appellant.

Henry S. Sherman, for appellees.

Mr. Justice BROWN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

As the court below failed to pass upon the Saladee patent in its decree, and as neither party has assigned this omission as error, it is unnecessary to take it into consideration upon this appeal. There are really but two questions involyed in this case: (1) The validity of the Augur patent, in view of the state of the art; (2) the validity of the Topliff and Ely reissue.

1. In the Augur patent, the device described consists of a rod attached to the rear axle of a side spring buggy or other vehicle, having two links rigidly attached to the rod, one at each end thereof, upon which the rear ends of such side springs are pivoted. The result is that when one spring is depressed, as by a person stepping into the vehicle on one side, the spring upon the other side is also depressed, through the action of the rod connecting the two, so that the body of the vehicle is kept approximately upon a level.

The patents to Stowe of 1868, and to Sexton of 1868, were also for a method of equalizing the action of side springs by so connecting, as stated in the Stowe patent, 'the two side springs of a carriage that a weight placed on any portion of the carriage will depress each side equally, and prevent the

Page 160

strain to the springs, occasioned by the frequent wrenching they are subjected to in getting in and out of the carriage.' But the means for accomplishing this in both cases are so wholly dissimilar to those described in the pattents in suit that a comparison can hardly be made of them.

Indeed, the patent to Stringfellow and Surles of 1861 approximates so much more nearly to the patents in suit that it is the only one worthy of serious consideration. If this patent does not anticipate the Augur patent, none of the others do; if it does anticipate it, it is of no consequene whether the others do or not. This patent is for 'a novel improvement in hanging carriage bodies on springs and from C-shaped jacks or supports, whereby the body is allowed a free and easy vibration longitudinally, and it is relieved from sudden and disagreeable jolts and jerks in traveling on rough roads, or from the sudden starting of the horse. The parts are also so braced and strengthened that all liability to twist the carriage body is effectively prevented. The invention consists of a combination of transverse tie rods with the side springs, which are hung by shackle bars orjointed links from C-shaped supports.' The patentee further states: 'It will thus be seen that the springs, DD, are suspended in such a manner from the four supports, CCC'C', that the body of the carriage, which is mounted on said springs, will be allowed to have a free, swinging motion backwards or forwards, and, in consequence of the springs being hung by the shackle bars, EEEE, the springs will also have an upward movement. * * * In uniting the shackle bars to the ends of the springs, DD, and the supports, CCC'C', two tie bars, GG, with forked ends, one of which is shown in Fig. 2 of the drawing, are used for the purpose of bracing the supports, CC', and also the ends of the springs, DD, so as to prevent the swaying of the carriage body from twisting or bending the supports, CC', laterally.' The claim was for 'the transverse ties, GG, arranged and operated substantially as and for the purposes specified.'

If there be anything in this patent which anticipates the connecting rods of the Augur device it is the transverse tie bars, GG, upon which the springs are hung, which the specifi-

Page 161

cation states are used for bracing the supports, CC', and also the ends of the springs, DD, so as to prevent the swaying of the carraige body from twisiting or bending the supports, CC', laterally. An inspection of the models of this patent, put in evidence, shows at once that the object of these tie baris is not an equalization of the pressure upon the springs, but to secure an equality in the back ward and forward swinging movement in the body of the vehicle. Indeed, this was obviously necessary, as the patentee states, to prevent the body of the carriage and the supports, CC's, from being twisted, the entire object of the patent being to secure a free and easy vibration longitudinally. It is true that one of the models of the patent put in evidence (Exhibit M) does, by its pecliar construction in shortening the links and strengthening and stiffening the entire structure, show an equalization of the pressure upon the springs, but it is accomplished by sacrificing the swinging movement backward and forward, which it was the object of the patent to secure. The duplicate of the model from the patent office contains no suggestion of this kind, nor do the other models of the same patent, offered in evidence. While it is possible that the Stringfellow and Surles patent might, by a slight modification, be made to perform the function of equalizing the springs which it was the object of the Augur pattent to secure, that was evidently not in the mind of the patentees, and the patent is inoperative for that purpose. Their device evidently approached very near the idea of an equalizer; but this idea did not apparently dawn upon them, nor was there anything in their patent which would have suggested it to a mechanic of ordinary intelligence, unless he were examining it for that purpose. It is not sufficient to constitute an anticipation that the device relied upon might, by modification, by made to accomplish the function performed by the patent in question, if it were not designed by its...

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426 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...long ago noted `constitute[s] one of the most difficult legal instruments to draw with accuracy,' Topliff [hairsp][hairsp]v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 171. And upon rejection of the application, the practitioner may also assist in the preparation of amendments, 37 CFR 1.117-1.126,\1\ which fre......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...long ago noted `constitute[s] one of the most difficult legal instruments to draw with accuracy,' Topliff [hairsp][hairsp]v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 171. And upon rejection of the application, the practitioner may also assist in the preparation of amendments, 37 CFR 1.117-1.126,\1\ which fre......
  • McCullough Tool Company v. Well Surveys, Inc., No. 6952-6956.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • April 20, 1965
    ...In both instances the ruling was in favor of Bender. Under these circumstances, we are bound by the rule laid down in Topliff v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 171, 12 S.Ct. 825, 831, 343 F.2d 390 36 L.Ed. 658, that "* * * this court will not review the decision of the commissioner upon the questio......
  • National Hollow Brake-Beam Co. v. Interchangeable Brake-Beam Co., 1,416.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 28, 1901
    ...of the patent. Ansonia Brass & Copper Co. v. Electrical Supply Co., 144 U.S. 11, 18, 12 Sup.Ct. 601, 36 L.Ed. 327; Topliff v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 161, 12 Sup.Ct. 825, [106 F. 703] 36 L.Ed. 658; Potts v. Creager, 155 U.S. 597, 608, 15 Sup.Ct. 194, 39 L.Ed. 275; Westinghouse v. Air-Brake C......
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424 cases
  • McCullough Tool Company v. Well Surveys, Inc., No. 6952-6956.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • April 20, 1965
    ...In both instances the ruling was in favor of Bender. Under these circumstances, we are bound by the rule laid down in Topliff v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 171, 12 S.Ct. 825, 831, 343 F.2d 390 36 L.Ed. 658, that "* * * this court will not review the decision of the commissioner upon the questio......
  • National Hollow Brake-Beam Co. v. Interchangeable Brake-Beam Co., 1,416.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 28, 1901
    ...of the patent. Ansonia Brass & Copper Co. v. Electrical Supply Co., 144 U.S. 11, 18, 12 Sup.Ct. 601, 36 L.Ed. 327; Topliff v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 161, 12 Sup.Ct. 825, [106 F. 703] 36 L.Ed. 658; Potts v. Creager, 155 U.S. 597, 608, 15 Sup.Ct. 194, 39 L.Ed. 275; Westinghouse v. Air-Brake C......
  • Autogiro Company of America v. United States, No. 50328.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • October 13, 1967
    ...so that the meaning of the terms in the claims may be ascertainable by reference to the description." 9 E.g., Topliff v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 12 S.Ct. 825, 36 L.Ed. 658 (1892); Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America v. United States, supra; Bates v. Coe, 98 U.S. 31, 25 L.Ed. 68 (1878);......
  • General Tire & Rubber Co. v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., Civil No. 36799
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • October 3, 1972
    ...to establish anticipation if it were neither designed, adapted, nor actually used in the performance of the invention. Topliff v. Topliff, 145 U.S. 156, 161, 12 S.Ct. 825, 36 L.Ed. 658 (1892); Trabon Engr. Corp. v. Dirkes, 136 F.2d 24, 26 (6th Cir. 1943); Spring-A-Way Displays of California......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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