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United States Supreme Court

83 U.S. 544

Mitchell  v.  Hawley

APPEAL from the Circuit Court for the District of Massachusetts; the case being thus:

The 18th section of the Patent Act of July 4th, 1836, [1] after enacting that patents may in certain cases be extended, and that 'thereupon the said patent shall have the same effect in law as though it had been originally granted for the term of twenty-one years,' adds:

'And the benefit of such renewal shall extend to assignees and grantees of the right to use the thing patented to the extent of their respective interests therein.'

With this statutory enactment in force the United States, on the 3d of May, 1853, granted a patent to one Taylor for fourteen years for improved machinery in felting hats, the patent lasting, of course, till May 3d, 1867.

While the patent was in force, that is to say on the 19th of November, 1860, Taylor, by deed reciting that one Bayley was 'desirous of obtaining the exclusive right to make and use, and license to others the right to use the said machines in the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire,' 'conveyed to the said Bayley' certain rights, as follows:

'The exclusive right to make and use, and to license to others the right to use the said machines in the said States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and in no other place or places, during the remainder of the original term of said letters-patent. Provided, that the said Bayley shall not in any way or form dispose of, sell, or grant any license to use the said machines beyond the 3d day of May, A.D. 1867.

'Should the said letters-patent be extended beyond the 3d of May, A.D. 1867, then it is agreed that the said Bayley shall have the right to control the same in the said States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, provided that he shall pay to the said grantor or his heirs or assigns, a fair and reasonable compensation for the same, or on terms as favorable as may be offered by any other person or party.'In possession of this license Bayley, on the 18th of March, 1864, in consideration of $1200, licensed one Mitchell and others of the town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, to run and use two sets (four machines) for felting hats, in said town of Haverhill, under Taylor's patent bearing date May 3d, A.D. 1864.

Before the patent expired (May 3d, 1867) the Commissioner of Patents renewed and extended it for the further term of seven years; and one Hawley, having become the owner of this extended term for the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, filed a bill against Mitchell and the others to restrain them from using the four machines which Bayley on the 18th of March, 1864, had give them license to use, it being admitted that the said Mitchell et al. were now using those identical machines.

The court below granted the injunction, and the defendants took this appeal.

Mr. F. A. Brooks, for the appellant, relying on Bloomer v. Millinger, [2] and on the 18th section of the Patent Act, contended that a sale of machines by the patentee himself operated to take the thing sold out of the reach of the Patent Act altogether, and that as long as the machines themselves lasted, the owner could use them.

Mr. J. E. Manadier, contra, argued that here the right to make and use, and to license to others the right to use, was expressly limited as to duration by apt words, showing clearly an intent that it should not survive the original term of the patent; that this was a perfectly lawful sort of contract, and therefore that the rights must expire with that term; for that neither the 18th section of the Patent Act nor anything laid down in Bloomer v. Millinger was applicable.

Mr. Justice CLIFFORD delivered the opinion of the court.

NotesEdit

^1  5 Stat. at Large, 125.

^2  1 Wallace, 351.

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).