Smith v. Vulcan Iron Works Norton

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

165 U.S. 518

Smith  v.  Vulcan Iron Works Norton

In each of these cases, the circuit court of the United States for the Northern district of California, upon a bill in equity for the infringement of a patent for an invention, an answer denying the validity and the infringement of the patent, a general replication, and a hearing, entered an interlocutory decree, adjudging that the patent was valid, and had been infringed, granting an injunction, and referring the case to a master to take an account of profits and damages. From that decree, in each case, the defendant appealed to the circuit court of appeals for the Ninth circuit.

In the first case, the defendant, at the time of taking the appeal, filed in the circuit court an assignment of errors, alleging error in holding that the patent was valid, and that it had been infringed. The plaintiff moved the circuit court of appeals to dismiss the appeal, so far as it involved any question except whether an injunction should be awarded. But that court denied the motion, and, upon a hearing, examined the questions of validity and infringement, decided them in favor of the defendant, and entered a decree reversing the decree of the circuit court. 15 U.S. App. 217, 577, 10 C. C. A. 493, and 62 Fed. 444. On petition of the plaintiff, this court, on January 28, 1895, granted a writ of certiorari to the circuit court of appeals.

In the second case, the circuit court of appeals affirmed the decree of the circuit court (29 U.S. App. 409), but, upon a rehearing, decided that there had been no infringement, reversed its own decree and that of the circuit court, and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the bill, and afterwards denied a petition for a rehearing and a motion to certify questions of law to this court. 44 U.S. App. 118, 425, 17 C. C. A. 447, and 70 Fed. 833. The circuit court, upon receiving the mandate of the circuit court of appeals, and without hearing the plaintiffs, entered a final decree dismissing the bill. An appeal from this decree was taken by the plaintiff to the circuit court of appeals, and, upon the defendant's motion, and without any hearing on the merits, was dismissed by that court. The plaintiff, on November 9, 1896, presented to this court a petition for a writ of certiorari, and the court thereupon granted a rule to show cause why the writ should not issue to bring up the decree of the circuit court of appeals, 'so that it may be determined whether, upon an appeal from an interlocutory decree granting a temporary injunction in a patent case, the circuit court of appeals can render or direct a final decree on the merits.'

That question was now, by leave of the court, orally argued in both cases; the parties in the first case stipulating in writing that, if the decision of this court upon that question should be in favor of the jurisdiction of the circuit court of appeals, the case should be dismissed by the appellees.

Calderon Carlisle and Wm. G. Johnson, for Ellen L. Smith et al.

John H. Miller, for the Iron Works and Edwin and Oliver Morton.

Milton A. Wheaton, pro se.

Mr. Justice GRAY, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).