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"The licensees to whom these licenses were given paid the fees as stipulated. The Wayne Agricultural Company paid for four years, since which time they have paid nothing, their excuse being that they claimed to have bought an interest in the patent. We sued them in this court, and the court decided that they had no title to the patent, and then they agreed to arbitrate with us and the suit was dismissed."
This evidence does not show the payment of fees as stated by the
It is left uncertain whether or not the fees paid "for four years” were at the rate of one and two dollars for a machine, or 50 per cent. of those sums. The fair inference, perhaps, is that the Wayne Agricultural Company did for four years manufacture drills under the license, though it is not entirely clear that the license was not issued after or near the close of that period, so as to make the transaction in reality a settlement for infringements. This is certainly so in respect to the other parties named, who, if they received licenses at all, which is doubtful, received them as evidence of settlements, and these settlements, it is shown, were made either under express threats, or the fear, of suits for infringement. If for a time the Wayne Agricultural Company made the drills under a license, the manufacture was afterwards continued under a different claim of right, and when that claim had been overruled by the court, instead of settling for the infringement on the terms of the license, the company obtained an arbitration, the result of which has not been shown.
The first inquiry is, whether or not the proof in respect to payments for infringements was admissible, and ought to have been con. sidered by the master at all. I know of no case in which it has been decided that such evidence is competent, and, upon principle, am not able to see how it can be; on the contrary, it seems to me clear that it ought not to be received. Proof of license fees, charged and paid before use for the right to use an invention, is admissible upon the same theory that proof of sales in open market of any marketable commodity is competent; because it shows, or tends to show, a market price. But settlements for past use of an invention cannot be brought within the rule, because inconsistent with the principle on which the rule rests. The infringer, or one who is accused of infringement, is, from the necessity of the situation, under compul. sion to make compensation as demanded, or to take the risk of a suit; and how much his action, in a particular case of settlement, may have been influenced by this or other special considerations, it is impossible for the master or the court to determine, and therefore the inquiry should not be entered upon. The only way to escape the inquiry is to exclude the evidence. To admit it is contrary to the maxim, Inter alios acta, etc. It involves an attempt to resolve one doubt or difficulty by another. Litem lite solvit. There are doubtless reported cases in which it appears that such evidence was received and considered, but generally this has been done without objection, and uniformly (so far as I know) without a judicial declaration or decision that it was proper. In the opinion of the supreme court in Packet Co v. Sickles, 19 Wall. 611, the rule is reaffirmed as laid down in Seymour v McCormick, 16 How. 480, “that in suits at law for in. fringement of patents, when the sale of licenses by the patentee had been sufficient to establish a price for such licenses, that price should be taken as the measure of his damages against the infringer." "The rule thus declared," it is added, "has remained the established criterion of damages in cases to which it was applicable ever since;" and further on in the opinion it is said, and it affords a clear interpretation of the rule in respect to the point now mooted: “In such a case nothing is more reasonable than that the price fixed by the patentee for the use of his invention, in his dealings with others, and submitted to by them before using it, should govern. This, it is true, is the rule at law, but the complainants, waiving their right in equity to claim an account of profits, have invoked the same rule here, and must abide by it as it is. See, also, Black v. Munson, 14 Blatchf. 268; Greenleaf v. Yale Lock Manuf"g Co. 17 Blatchf. 253; 3 Suth. Dam. 601-607; 1 Greenl. Ev. $ 174; Whart. Ev. 1199; Abb. Tr. Ev. 188, 189; Matthews v. Spangenberg, 14 FED. REP. 350. It follows that the proof of damages made in this case, excepting that in reference to the license granted to the Wayne Agricultural Company, must be rejected, and should have been disregarded by the master; and, this being done, does there remain evidence sufficient to support the master's conclusion? It seems probable that the master himself would have thought not; since, as it was, he came to that conclusion "with considerable reluctance."
The rule, as already stated, requires "a sale of licenses" "sufficient to establish a price for such licenses.” “A royalty, in order to be binding on a stranger to the licenses which established it, must be a uniform royalty." Walk. Pat. 390. These and the like expressions and definitions found in the cases and text-books, imply that proof of a single license is not sufficient; and if under some circumstances such proof might be deemed adequate, that in this instance is not of such clear and unequivocal character as to give it such weight. Proc. tor v. Brill, 4 FED. REP. 415; Judson v. Bradford, 3 Ban. & A. 539; Black v. Munson, 2 Ban. & A. 623. It is true, in a sense, doubtless, that the owner of an invention has a right to fix his price upon it; but to constitute evidence against an infringer he must have done it "in his dealings with others, and not merely in a form of license which he was willing to grant. It is, as it appears to me, entirely inadmissible, at law or in equity, that a patentee may, by inserting in his licenses a stipulation for a certain royalty, with a proviso that half that sum shall be received in full, in case of prompt payment, acquire a right to demand the entire sum of an infringer. If he can arbi. trarily make such a discrimination, he may as well make the ratio three to one, or in any other proportion. The question is, what is a reasonable royalty? The laws of the land fix the rates of interest for
the forbearance of money, and if it be possible to make a discrimination against infringers of patents over prompt-paying licensees greater than lawful interest, (except as may be done by the courts under the statutory provision for treble damages,) it must be done, as it seems to me, upon some competent evidence, other than an arbitrary clause in a license or licenses, however many of them may have been issued.
The same may be said in reference to the clause in the license which requires that the specified royalty shall be paid for every drill “con. taining any of the patented improvements. This, as it seems to me, affords no proof, certainly not conclusive proof, against an infringer that he should pay the entire royalty named in the license for infringing only one of two or more claims of a patent, unless the one infringed be shown to be the only claim which has or had any value, or unless the different claims be substantially the same.
In respect to two or more claims in a patent, each of value and distinct from the other, one cannot equal both or all in value any more than in mathematics a part can equal the whole. The licensee may, if he choose, bind himself to pay the same price, whether he use the entire invention or a part only; but at the same time he acquires the right to use all, and so his agreement may not be unreasonable; but if, as against an infringer, such a license can have any force, reasonably, it must be in the way only of establishing a royalty for the entire invention. This view is in accordance with authority.
In Birdsall v. Coolidge, 93 U. S. 64, it appears that the alleged infringement was of one only of three claims in the letters patent, and the court says: “Still it is obvious that there cannot be any one rule of damages prescribed which will apply in all cases, even when it is conceded that the finding must be limited to actual damages. Where the patented improvement has been used only to a limited extent and for a short time,
the jury should find less than the amount of the license fee." See, also, Proctor v. Brill, supra; Wooster v. Simonson, 16 FED. REP. 680; Ruggles v. Eddy, 2 Ban. & A. 627.
Without further evidence, the plaintiff is entitled to nominal dam. ages only; but, that there may not be a failure of justice, the case is remanded to the master, with direction to admit further evidence by each party, if offered, and to report the same and his conclusions.
FIELD v. IRELAND and others.
(Circuit Court, N. D. New York. April 5, 1884.) PATENT-INFRINGEMENT-GLOVE-FASTENERS.
The case of Field v. Comeau, 17 O. G. 568, followed; holding that the complainant's patent for a glove-fastener, consisting of an automatic wire spring, is not infringed by a device consisting of stiff arms pivoted at one end. In Equity. Eugene N. Elliot, for complainant. James M. Dudley, for defendants.
Coxe, J. The complainant has a patent for an improvement in glove-fastenings. The claim is in the following words: "The combination, substantially as described, of a spring, A, with the split portion, B, of a glove, for the purpose specified.” In Field v. Comeau, 17 0. G. 568, Judge WHEELER restricted this claim to the particular style of spring described in the specification and drawings. That decision is controlling. No broader construction can now be given to the patent. The question of infringement, therefore, alone remains to be considered.
The complainant's spring is made of a single piece of wire and is automatic and continuous in its operation. When the spring is in repose the arms are together and overlap. When drawn apart they will immediately fly back if released. The defendants' device, on the contrary, is composed of two stiff arms pivoted at one end. A spring is riveted to one arm which connects, at its free end, with a link fastened to the end of the other. When the arms are open, and by pressure upon them the link is brought above the pivot, the spring acts, and the arms come together. At right angles the arms remain open and the spring does not begin to operate in closing them until they have been brought to an angle of about 45 degrees. The points of difference between the two devices are many and radical. But the reasoning of the Comeau Case seems conclusive upon this question also. The spring which was there held not to infringe is almost the exact counterpart of the defendants' spring. They differ only in minute and unimportant particulars. The one operates on a cam, the other on a link; with this exception they are alike. In speaking of the defendants' spring in that case the learned judge uses language which would be equally applicable here. He says:
“The form of the defendants' spring is different from the orator's, its mode of operation is different, and the result of its operation is somewhat different. It cannot be said to be the same as the orator's, or to be substantially like the orator's. Each got the idea of closing the wrists of gloves by means of springs from others. The orator carries out the idea in his mode, and the defendants in theirs, and, as neither has control of anything but the particular mode, neither can justly say that the other uses his mode.”
The two cases cannot be successfully distinguished.
THE WORTHINGTON AND Davis.
(District Court, E, D. Michigan April 30, 1883.)
1. COLLISION-RUNNING INTO VESSEL AT ANCHOR_PRESUMPTION OF FAULT.
The presumtion of fault arising from running into a vessel at anchor may be rebutted by showing that the moving vessel exercised all reasonable care upon her part, and that the collision was an inevitable accident; or by showing that
the fault is with the anchored vessel in failing to use proper precautions. 2. SAME-ANCHORAGE IN ST. CLAIR RIVER-DUTY OF VESSEL.
Anchorage in St. Clair river is not necessarily improper because the channel is comparatively narrow, and vessels are frequently passing and repassing, if room be left for vessels and tows to pass in safety. A vessel so anchored, however, is bound to keep a watch, and not to allow her sails to obstruct or obscure
the view of her anchor light. 3. SAME-INSCRUTABLE FAULT_LIBEL DISMISSED.
In cases of inscrutable fault the libel should be dismissed.
This was a libel for a collision between the schooner Gladstone and the schooner Davis, in tow of the propeller Worthington, which occurred on the night of July 26, 1881, on the St. Clair river, near Herson's island. The Gladstone was bound on a voyage from Detroit to the port of Golden Valley, Ontario. She left Detroit in the afternoon, under sail, reached the St. Clair river, and sailed up to a point a little above the place of collision. The wind, which had been light from the west or north-west during the afternoon and evening, about 9 o'clock failed altogether. The schooner, being unable to proceed further, came to anchor in the channel of the St. Clair river, somewhat upon the Canadian side. After coming to anchor, her riding lights were taken in, and a bright anchor light placed in her port fore-rigging, about 20 feet from the deck. For all that appears, this light was burning brightly up to the time of the collision. A lookout was also stationed upon the deck to watch approaching vessels. The night was clear, and lights could easily be seen at the usual distance. Some time after 10 o'clock the schooner Davis, which was the last of three ssels in tow of the propeller Worthington, bound down the river, came into collision with the Gladstone, breaking her jib-boom, bowsprit, and cat-head, and damaging her port bow.
Moore & Canfield, for libelant.
Brown, J. It is charged in the libel that the propeller was in fault in running too close to the Gladstone, and that the schooner Davis was in fault in not keeping a sharp lookout, and in not porting her wheel sufficiently to keep in the wake of the propeller, and thus avoid coming in contact with the Gladstone. Separate answers were filed on the part of the propeller and the Davis, the same counsel representing both vessels. Upon the hearing, however, there was no evidence showing the Davis to be in fault, as she appeared to have done the best she could in following the Worthington. The case against