CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.
The Circuit Court was of opinion that neither of complainants' patents was a pioneer invention; that they were all merely improvements on the prior art, and to be construed in that light; that complainants could not be treated on the basis that they or their assignors were the first to make a portable machine for weaving wire fencing fabric in the field, which claim had been distinctly made by complainants, rejected by the Patent Office, and the claim thereupon withdrawn. In its judgment, complainants and defendant contended as to infringement on an equal field, the presumption of the validity of complainants' patents being met by the presumption of the validity of the patent to Whitney. And, taking up complainants' patents seriatim, the Circuit Court held that the differences between their machines and defendant's machine were not
mere colorable invasions by the latter, and that the identity of means and of operation essential to infringement were lacking.
The Circuit Court of Appeals concurred with the Circuit Court that the case turned upon the question whether the patents sued on embodied a pioneer invention; that if complainants' invention was not of a primary character, a substantial departure from the machines of the prior art, defendant's machine was so sufficiently differentiated that the claim of infringement could not be maintained; while, on the other hand, if complainants' patents "were the first to give to the world a workable, portable machine for weaving wire fences in the field -- a machine distinctly creating a new product -- and aptly embody in their specifications and claims the mechanical arrangements that bring about such a result, the decree below is erroneous."
The opinion was preceded by an extended statement of facts, which gave the specifications of the Davisson patent of December 4, 1883, and certain of the accompanying figures, together with the second and third claims, alleged to be infringed; also "the pertinent drawings and specifications of the Kitselman patent." and the claims alleged to be infringed, which were as follows:
"1. In a wire-fabric machine, a series of sectional twisters, each of which comprises a central section for carrying a warpwire, and having rotary movement imparted thereto, and the shifting sections for carrying the weft-wire, and receiving rotary motion from the central section to form the twist, substantially as and for the purpose herein described.
"2. In a wire-fabric machine, the combination of a series of sectional twisters geared together for simultaneous rotation, and each comprising a central portion movable only on its axis and side portions capable of a compound movement -- that of rotation on their axes -- and of a shifting longitudinal movement, substantially as described, for the purpose set forth."
"9. In a wire-fabric machine, the series of sectional twisters, comprising the central and side sections, the central section of each twister being geared to the twister adjacent thereto for simultaneous operation, substantially as described, for the purpose set forth.
"10. In a wire-fabric machine, the combination of a series of twisters geared directly together for simultaneous operation, and each comprising a central section and the side section, each side section carrying a spool or reel for the wire, substantially as described, for the purpose set forth.
"11. In a wire-fabric machine, a series of twisters connected for simultaneous operation, and each consisting of a central section and the side section, in combination with the spools carried by the side sections, the central section of each twister being provided with a longitudinal opening for the passage therethrough of the warp-wire, substantially as described."
"15. In a wire-fabric machine, the combination of a series of rotary twisters geared directly together for simultaneous operation, each twister having a central section capable of rotary movement only, and two side sections which are capable of a shifting movement independently of the central section in opposite directions simultaneously, whereby the said shifting sections of one twister are adjusted to register with the central sections of twisters on opposite sides of the same, substantially as described, for the purpose set forth."
"20. In a wire-fabric machine, a series of sectional twisters, each comprising a central section, the central sections being geared together to be simultaneously rotated on their axes, and the shifting side sections adapted to align with the central sections to be rotated therewith, substantially as described, for the purpose set forth."
The drawings and specifications of the Connor and Pope patents were not set out because unnecessary in the view taken of the case. Both these patents were issued subsequently to the Kitselman patent.
The drawings and specifications of the patent to Whitney of December 24, 1895, were then given.
The statement further set forth "the essential drawings and specifications of letters patent No. 10,743, granted John Nesmith, April 4, 1854, and referred to in the opinion as most adequately representing one branch of the prior art," namely, as stated by the court, loom machines by which wire netting was made in the factory, and then transferred to the field; and
also Figure 2 of the drawings of the Middaugh and Wilcox patent of December 23, 1884, that patent being regarded as "the best example of the second branch of the prior art," field machines which constructed the fence in situ.
The statement is given in full, with eleven pages of drawings in the report of the case, 108 Fed. Rep. 632.
The Kitselman and Pope patents described portable machines. The Davisson and Connor patents described stationary machines. The Kitselman and Pope patents were intended to be operated by hand and the Davisson and Connor patents were intended to be operated by power. But the essentials of the mechanism were not dependent upon the circumstance of their being embodied in either a stationary or a portable machine, or in a power or a hand machine. Complainants' leading expert testified that "the essentials of the invention described in the several claims here in suit are not dependent on their use in a stationary or portable machine, or in a power or hand machine, or upon their capacity to weave a fabric into which slats may or may not be used, or upon their capacity to weave a fabric of any special size of mesh."
In the specification of the Kitselman patent the inventor said: "The primary object I have in view in my invention is to provide a simple and easily operated machine of the class named which can be adapted for use in the open field or other place for the construction of fences, as well as a stationary or fixed machine for the manufacture of wire fabric." And also: "I may either construct a portable machine as shown in the accompanying drawings, to work in the open field or other place, or dispose the parts in a horizontal instead of a vertical position, and mount the same on suitable bearings and legs to provide a stationary machine for indoor use."
The Middaugh and Wilcox patent of December 23, 1884, was a patent for a "Portable Fence Machine," described in the claims as "a portable machine for constructing wire-and-picket fences" and "a portable fencing machine." Longitudinal pairs of wires were intertwisted with vertical slats inserted between the twists, the wires passing through tubes or spindles in the frame of the machine, which moved along the wires as the fence was formed.
In the Kitselman specifications and drawings, plans of picket and slat fencing and of the common form of wood fence held together by wires, as made by that machine, were shown. The Middaugh and Wilcox machine made wire and picket fence. The Kitselman machine made diamond mesh, and wire and picket, fence. But the diamond mesh fabric was old, as shown not only in the Davisson ...