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UNITED STATES v. ESNAULT-PELTERIE

decided: January 31, 1938.

UNITED STATES
v.
ESNAULT-PELTERIE



CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CLAIMS.

Hughes, McReynolds, Brandeis, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Black; Cardozo took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 303 U.S. Page 27]

 Respondent brought this suit to recover compensation for the use and manufacture by and for the United States of a device alleged to be covered by respondent's patent No. 1,115,795 for an invention for the control of the equilibrium of airplanes. On the first hearing, the Court of Claims made special findings of fact and decided as a conclusion of law that respondent's patent was valid and had been infringed by the United States and that respondent was entitled to compensation. Judgment was entered accordingly. 81 Ct. Cls. 785. On review by writ of certiorari, this Court held that validity and infringement were ultimate facts to be found by the Court of Claims and, as these facts had not been found, the judgment was vacated and the case was remanded to that court with instructions to find specifically whether respondent's patent was valid and, if so, whether it had been infringed. United States v. Esnault-Pelterie, 299 U.S. 201.

The parties then moved in the Court of Claims for additional findings and that court amended its special findings by adding the following findings of fact:

"XLVIII. Claims 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the Esnault-Pelterie patent in suit are valid.

"XLIX. The three alleged infringing airplanes of the defendant all possess the single vertical lever movable in every direction for controlling the lateral or longitudinal equilibrium of the airplane, connected to equivalent controlling surfaces having the same functional effects as those disclosed in the patent.

"Claims 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the Esnault-Pelterie patent in suit are infringed by defendant."

[ 303 U.S. Page 28]

     The court then entered an interlocutory judgment holding respondent entitled to compensation and directing that the court's previous findings, as amended, together with its opinion as theretofore announced, should stand. 84 Ct. Cls. 625. Certiorari was granted.

Without its consent, the United States may not be sued for infringement of a patent. Crozier v. Krupp, 224 U.S. 290. The Congress has determined the conditions upon which the United States consents to be sued. By the applicable statute Congress has permitted suit to be brought in the Court of Claims for reasonable compensation for the infringing use or manufacture. Act of June 25, 1910, 36 Stat. 251, as amended by Act of July 1, 1918, 40 Stat. 705. 35 U. S. C. 68. Review by this Court of the judgment in such a suit is thus subject to the rules which have been established for the review of the judgments of the Court of Claims. That review is limited to questions of law.

The Act of March 3, 1863, c. 92, 12 Stat. 765, providing for suits against the United States in the Court of Claims, authorized appeals to this Court under such regulations as this Court should direct. See, also, Act of March 3, 1887, c. 359, § 4, 24 Stat. 505, 506. 28 U. S. C. 761. The rules first adopted provided for the finding of the facts by the Court of Claims and directed that "The facts so found are to be the ultimate facts or propositions which the evidence shall establish, in the nature of a special verdict, and not the evidence on which the ultimate facts are founded." Rule 1, 3 Wall. VII. The present rule, under § 3 (b) of the Act of February 13, 1925, c. 229, 43 Stat. 936, governing review upon certiorari, is to the same effect. Rule 41, par. 3. This established practice was thus described in Luckenbach S. S. Co. v. United States, 272 U.S. 533, 538, 539:

"This Court uniformly has regarded the legislation and rules as confining the review to ...


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