APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York. The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court. This case was argued by Mr. Charles F. Blake v. Mr. Samuel J. Glassey for Dunbar, and by Mr. Frederic H. Betts for Myers.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Justice Clifford delivered the opinion of the court.
Inventions, in order that the inventors may be entitled to patents for the same, must be new and useful; and the better opinion is, that the improvement must be of such a character that it involved invention to make it, as the Patent Act confers no right to obtain a patent except to a person who has invented or discovered some new and useful art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or some new and useful improvement in one or the other of those described subject-matters.
Sufficient appears to show that a patent in due form was granted to John Myers and Robert G. Eunson, on the 23d of May, 1854, for an alleged invention, described in the specification as relating to certain new and useful improvements in machines for sawing lumber into thin stuff for the backs of mirrors and picture-frames, and other purposes for which thin stuff is used. Due application was subsequently made for an extension; and the record shows that the patent was regularly extended for the further term of seven years from the expiration of the first term.
Subsequent to the extension of the patent, one of the patentees, to wit, Robert G. Eunson, sold and assigned all his right, title, and interest in the same, and the extension thereof, to Eugene S. Eunson, one of the complainants, who instituted the present suit in the court below. Pending the suit, the other complainant departed this life; and Margaret Myers, his sole executrix, was duly admitted in his stead to prosecute the suit as co-complainant with the assignee of the other half-interest in the extended patent. Infringement is charged, and that the respondents have made large gains and profits by the unlawful use of the patented invention; and the complainants pray for an account and for an injunction.
Process having been issued and service made, the respondents appeared and filed an answer, in which they set up in substance and effect the following defences: 1. That the invention is of no utility or value. 2. That the patentees are not the original and first inventors of the alleged improvement. 3. That the alleged improvement was well known and had been in public use long prior to the supposed invention by the patentees. 4. That knowledge of such prior public use was possessed by the several persons whose names and places of residence are set forth in the answer. 5. That the patented improvement, years before the application for the patent was executed, was fully described in the respective printed publications mentioned in the answer filed by the respondents.
Minute and accurate description of the patented machine is given in the drawings, and the specification divides the invention into four separate features, as follows: 1. That it consists in the employment or use of deflecting plates,–one or two,–placed at the sides of a circular saw, for the purpose of enlarging or expanding the saw kerf to prevent the sawed stuff from coming in contact with the sides of the saw and binding the edge of the same near the teeth. Deflecting plates of the kind also allow the saw to be stiffened by a proper plate, so that a thin veneer saw may be employed, which will cause but a small waste of stuff in sawing. 2. That the invention consists in the employment or use of elastic claimps attached to the ordinary adjustable and elastic beds, between which the stuff is fed to the saw. Clamps of the kind have an elasticity independent of the beds, and compensate for the varying thickness of the different pieces of stuff to be sawed, by holding firmly the extreme end of the stuff, and keeping it in proper position to the saw, however much the elastic bed may be expanded by a succeeding piece of stuff of greater thickness. 3. That the invention also consists in the employment or use of knives or cutters secured to the adjustable beds, and so arranged as to cut or smooth off the rough and projecting sides of the stuff at the ends, making it of uniform thickness. 4. That it also consists in the combination of an adjustable bed and circular saw, arranged as shown in the specification.
Such a machine necessarily requires a frame, and the patentees state that the frame of the machine described in the specification may be constructed in any proper manner, and that the circular saw is placed on a shaft which runs transversely across the front of the frame.
They employ a circular saw, made of thin steel-plate, such as is used for sawing veneers, on one side of which is a circular plate secured by rivets or screws, the plate being less in diameter than the saw, which has the effect to stiffen the plate of the saw, and to enable the operator to use a thinner saw than he would otherwise be able to do.
Two deflecting plates are also employed by the patentees, one on each side of the saw; the one on the same side of the saw with the stiffening plate covers the upper part of that plate, the outer end of which projects further from the saw than the inner end,–the deflecting plate on the other side of the saw being of the same description, except that it is rather smaller in diameter, and that it projects from the saw at about an equal distance at both ends. They are arranged one on each side of the saw, and are attached to the frame by means of bolts, rivets, or screws.
Two feed-roller beds are placed vertically in the back part of the frame parallel with each other, both of which are made adjustable by screw-rods which bear against the sides of the beds, the screw-rods of each bed being operated simulataneously by means of chains passing round small toothed wheels at the ends of the screw-rods.
Two cranks are also employed, one of which is attached to one of the toothed wheels of each bed. Lateral elasticity is given to the beds by means of india-rubber or other springs attached to them in a proper manner.
Four feed-rollers are employed, two of which are placed in each bed, and the specification states that the feed-rollers project some distance beyond the inner edges of the beds. Clamps, two in number, are attached to the inner ends of the beds, and at the back part of each clamp there are two journals, one at the top and one at the bottom, fitted in boxes which work or slide in recesses in the top and bottom pieces of the beds.
Set-screws are also provided, which pass transversely through the top and bottom pieces of each bed, the inner ends of which bear against india-rubber springs placed directly back of the boxes.
There are two of these rubber springs at the top of the clamps, one to each clamp, and it appears that they are placed between the clamps and the set-screws, passing transversely through the top pieces of the beds. Hence it follows that the clamps may be made to vibrate laterally; but it also appears that two stops are provided, which pass through the top pieces of the beds, one through each top piece, for the purpose of limiting and regulating the extent of such lateral vibration.
Knives or cutters are also provided, which are placed vertically, one in each bed; but it is unnecessary to enter into those details, as it is not pretended that the respondents have infringed the third claim of the patent.
Motion is given to the feed-rollers by gearing, which is shown in the drawings at the lower part of the rollers.
Means are also provided for adjusting the beds relatively to the saw, so that the boards or other lumber may be sawed into the desired thickness. Either side of the saw may be made the line side in the operation of sawing by the adjustment of the proper roller-bed, so as to prevent expansion or contraction.
Stuff to be sawed, whatever it may be, is placed between the feed-rollers in the beds, and, motion being communicated to the saw and rollers, the stuff is fed forward towards the saw and is cut by it, the two pieces being prevented from bearing against the sides of the saw by means of the deflecting plates. When the outer end of the material to be sawed has passed the inner feed-roller, the clamps bear against the board and hold it in a proper relative position to the saw, so that if another board to be sawed is placed between the feed-rollers it will advance and press forward the board first placed between the rollers, and if the last board is thicker than the preceding one the only effect ...