Wagner Typewriter Co. v. Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict

Decision Date08 January 1907
Docket Number20.
PartiesWAGNER TYPEWRITER CO. v. WYCKOFF, SEAMANS & BENEDICT.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit

A. von Briesen, for appellant.

Edmund Wetmore and H. D. Donnelly, for appellee.

Before LACOMBE, TOWNSEND, and COXE, Circuit Judges.

COXE Circuit Judge.

This is an equity suit for the infringement of two letters patent granted to Josiah B. Gathright, for improvements in type-writing machines.

First Gathright Patent.

The first of these patents, No. 436,916, relates to improvements in that class of machines which are provided with feed racks for moving a carriage to space between the letters of each line.

The specification describes the improvement as embodied in a Remington machine. The patentee says that prior to his invention, when the operator desired to do tabulating work it was necessary for him to advance the carriage by repeatedly striking a spacing key or by unlatching the carriage and sliding it to the desired point by means of a hand lever; both methods being tedious, irritating and perplexing. The patentee's object was to obviate these objections by providing means for automatically locating with the typewriter one or more columns of words or figures and mechanically skipping any intervening space desired to be left blank. The invention consists in the construction and combination of parts forming a portion of a typewriter designed to accomplish the objects stated.

The principal features of Gathright's invention are the following:

First a supplemental spacing key which is exclusively devoted to the tabulating attachment and performs no function except in connection therewith. The operator, by pressing on this key disengages the detent, or feed-dog, from the rack, which is held disengaged until the carriage passes over the desired space, when the carriage is stopped by the lateral arm of the feed bar, which is pivoted to the carriage, coming into contact with lugs adjustably but firmly fixed to the stop-rod. By releasing the key from pressure the stop-lug is removed from the usual path traveled by the carriage and the detent again engages with the toothed rack.

An independent key of this character has advantages over the keys of the prior art and particularly over a key adapted by light pressure to advance the carriage a single letter space and, by heavier pressure, to release it entirely. Such a key, as is pointed out by the patentee, is in continual danger of being over-pressed, unless the mind of the operator is constantly alert to prevent it.

A second feature is the lift-slide and stop-rod freely hung, adjustable longitudinally of the machine, and normally supported close beneath some cross portion, like the lateral arm of the feed rack referred to above. This rod is raised and lowered by the spacing key lever and connecting upright post on which the rod is seated. The rod is provided with lugs for stopping the carriage which may be adjusted, by set screws, at any desired point on the rod. When pressure on the key is released the rod returns to its normal position, the stopping shoulders of the lugs are removed out of the path of the carriage and the machine is free to resume its step-by-step action. The lever between the key and the vertical post, which connects the lever to the stop-rod, is pivoted to the frame of the machine and constitutes the mechanism for lifting the lugs into contact with the carriage arm and lowering them out of contact as the key is respectively pressed down or released.

Generally speaking, the patentee's contribution to the art consists in providing an independent mechanism operated by a separate spacing key by which adjustable stop-lugs can be brought into contact with a portion of the feed carriage, thus dispensing with the use of the small and comparatively delicate feed-dog, or detent, to bear the greatly increased strain when the carriage is released from the step-by-step movement. The drawings show the adjustable lugs attached to the stop-rod, but it is obvious that if, for any reason, it were desirable to transpose these parts so that the adjustable lugs are attached to the moving frame and the fixed abutment to the stop-rod, the change would not be a departure from the spirit of the invention. The two would be alternative and equivalent constructions.

The tabulating attachment is so constructed that it may be attached to or removed from the machine without interfering with its use as an effective typewriter. The patentee says:

'It would require only ordinary mechanical skill to adapt my stop-rod and lugs to any kind of a self-feeding typewriting machine by following out the principle of construction herein described. Therefore, I deem it unnecessary to illustrate its application to the great variety of typewriting machines which have been invented.'

The Claims.

The claims involved are as follows:

'(4) The combination of a stop-rod freely hung to the machine, a stop-lug thereon, and a supplemental spacing-key hung in the machine and adapted to move the said stop-lug into the path of a portion of the feed-carriage, and connection between the stop-rod and rack-bar, substantially as shown and described.
'(5) In a typewriter, the combination of the usual letter-keys and one or more spacing-keys having mechanism in common for permitting the carriage to move a definite space at each stroke, and a supplemental spacing or skipping key fitted to permit the carriage to move any desired number of said spaces, according to adjustment, said key provided with independent mechanism for releasing the carriage from the detent, and mechanism for simultaneously interposing an adjustable stop, substantially as shown and described.'

Contention of the Parties.

The complainant contends that Gathright was the first to construct a commercially operative tabulator, that the patent is a pioneer and that these claims are entitled to a broad range of equivalents.

The patentee's own views on this subject are stated in the specification as follows:

'Because of the necessary changes in details of construction that would naturally result from the adaptation of my invention to different styles of typewriting machines, I do not wish to confine my claims to the specific device herein described.'

The defendant disputes this contention and insists that if a construction broad enough to include its tabulator is placed upon the claims they are anticipated by prior patents and structures. If, however, the claims are confined to the improvements contributed by Gathright they are not infringed.

Second Gathright Patent.

The second patent, No. 452,268, was granted to Gathright, May 12, 1891, and is for an improvement upon the mechanism of the first patent whereby the skipping device of No. 436,916 may be adapted to fit type-writing machines of different kinds, the Caligraph and the Remington being among them. The Remington No. 2 machine is the one described in the specification.

The principal feature introduced consists of a rock-shaft mounted on the frame of the machine along which shaft the stop-lugs may be adjustably located, or they may be located on the carriage, so that when the shaft is rocked on its axis the lugs will come into the same path of travel as the carriage and stop the latter by being brought into contact with some part thereof, adjustable or fixed, when the latter is released by the removal of the detent from the feed-rack. In other words, the improvement seems to consist in the substitution of rock-shaft 16 for the stop-rod 14 of the first patent. The latter being freely mounted with a rocking axis at right angles to the path of travel of the carriage and the former being mounted on an axis parallel to the path of travel, the stops being adapted to engage the carriage by being rocked into its path instead of being lifted into contact as in the first patent. As before stated it is, of course, immaterial whether the adjustable stops are on the rod and the fixed stop on the carriage or vice versa.

The difference between the devices of the two patents is clearly pointed out by the complainant's expert, Mr. Fraser, as follows:

'In the Gathright second patent the part which corresponds in function to the stop rod 14 of the first patent, is a rock-shaft which is extended approximately parallel with the travel of the carriage, or in other words with the feed-rack. The axis around which this shaft turns or oscillates is consequently at right angles to that around which the stop rod 14 of the first patent vibrates. In the case of the construction shown in Figs. IV. and VI. where the only part upon the rock-shaft which has any action upon the feed-rack or any co-action with the adjustable stops is the cam or arm 45, this second invention involves that this arm or cam shall swing through a vertical plane developed from front to rear, or in other words, perpendicular to the movement of the carriage; whereas the specific construction shown in the first patent involved that the active part, namely, the stop rod 14, should swing in a vertical plane developed from the left to right, or in other words, parallel to the movement of the carriage.'

The Claims.

The claims involved are as follows:

'(6) The combination, in a type-writing machine having a carriage feed-rack, of a detent hung to engage the said rack, a rock-shaft journaled in bearings parallel with the feed-rack to be rocked in a direction transverse thereto and having one arm communicating with the said detent to disengage it from the rack and another arm or block to be rocked into the path of a fixture of the carriage, and a skipping-key connected with the rock-shaft, substantially as described.

'(8) The combination of a type-writing machine...

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