Keystone Bridge Company v. Phoenix Iron Company - United States Supreme Court

Keystone Bridge Company v. Phoenix Iron Company

By United States Supreme Court

  • Release Date: 1877-10-01
  • Genre: Law
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Keystone Bridge Company v. Phoenix Iron Company United States Supreme Court Book Review Score: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars

The appeal in this case is brought to review the decree of the Circuit Court dismissing the bill of complaint, which charges an infringement of two certain patents belonging to the Keystone Bridge Company. These patents were for improvements in iron truss bridges. The first was granted to J. H. Linville and his assignee J. I. Piper, Jan. 14, 1862; the second, to the same parties, Oct. 31, 1865. The particular claims upon which the contest arises before us are the first claim in the former patent, and the third in the latter. Both of these claims relate to the lower chords of the truss, the primary office of which is to hold the lower parts of the structure together, and keep them from spreading; but which are also employed in the construction of the patentees, to sustain the cross-sills which support the railroad. We do not think we ought to disturb the decree of the Circuit Court in this case. We regard the construction of the claims in question insisted upon by the appellee as substantially correct. Those claims are the first in the patent of 1862, and the third in that of 1865. It is manifest that, in the former, the form of the chords is deemed material, or, at least, it is made so by the terms of the specification and claim. They are flat bars placed on edge so as to sustain superincumbent weight, as well as perform the office of tension braces. They are made in this form in order that the floor beams of the railroad may be directly laid on them. This is apparent from the whole tenor of the specification. The patentee, in describing his invention, commences by saying: 'My invention, consists, 1st, in a novel construction of the lower chords, and mode of applying the same, in combination with the posts and other parts of the truss.' Again: 'The bottom chords are each composed of a series of wide, thin eye-bars, of wrought iron, of a length corresponding with the distances between the posts on one side of the truss, placed on edge to enable them to give vertical support to the roadway,' &c. Then, after showing that these eye-bars or chords are made wider at the ends where the eye-holes are made for inserting the connecting pins or bolts, which connect the different sections together, and explaining the general construction of the bridge and its different parts, he concludes with the following claim: 'I do not claim the use of eye-bars or links as chains of suspension bridges; but what I claim as my invention, and desire to secure by letters-patent, is, 1st, the construction of the lower chords of truss bridges of series of wide and thin drilled eye-bars, C, C, applied on edge between ribs, S, S, on the bottoms of the posts, and connected by pins, P, P, supported in the diagonal tension braces, D and E, all substantially as herein described.' Words cannot show more plainly that the claim of the inventor does not extend to any other eye-bars or chords than such as are made wide and hin, and applied on edge. As those constructed by the defendant are cylindrical in form, only flattened at the eye for insertion between the ribs or projections of the posts, it is plain that no infringement of this claim of the patent has been committed.

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