U.S. Supreme Court
Thompson v. Boisselier, 114 U.S. 1 (1885)
Thompson v. Boisselier
Argued March 10, 1885
Decided March 30, 1885
114 U.S. 1
The third claim of reissued letters patent No. 978, granted to William S. Carr, June 12, 1880, for "improvements in water closets" (the original patent having been granted to him August 5, 1856, and, as reissued, extended July 23, 1870, for seven years from August 5, 1870), namely,
"In a valve for water closets, a cup leather for controlling the motion of said valve in closing gradually, substantially as specified, said cup leather moving freely in one direction, and closing against the containing cylinder in the other direction, and the leakage of water in said cylinder allowing the movement
of said cup leather as set forth,"
construed, and the operation of the device explained.
The state of the art as to prior devices and the construction and operation of the defendants' device, set forth.
In view of the state of the art, held that for the purpose of securing the free passage of water in one direction and preventing its escape in the other direction otherwise than gradually, the defendants had used nothing which they did not have a right to use, and had not appropriated any patentable invention which Carr had a right to cover, as against the defendants' structure, by the third claim of his reissue.
All that Carr did, if anything, was to add his form of orifice to the valve and cup leather of an existing pump plunger.
The third claim of the Carr reissue involves as an element in it the means of leakage set forth.
The only point of invention, if it could be dignified by that name, was the special means of leakage shown by Carr, but which the defendants did not use.
To be patentable, a thing must not only be new and useful, but must amount to an invention or discovery.
Recent decisions of this Court on the subject of what constitutes a patentable invention cited and applied.
Under them, claim three of the Carr reissue must, in view of the state of the art, either be held not to involve a patentable invention or, if it does, not to have been infringed.
The first claim of letters patent No. 21,734, granted to Frederick H. Bartholomew, October 12, 1858, for an "improved water closet," and extended October 2, 1872, for seven years from October 12, 1871, namely, "The use of a drip box or leak chamber arranged above the closet and below and around the supply cock substantially as described," must, in view of the state of the art, be limited to a drip box arranged above or on top of the closet, and is not infringed by a structure in which the drip box is cast on the side of the trunk, near the top but below it and not on top of it.
These are suits in equity to restrain infringements of a patent. The facts which make the case are stated in the opinion of the Court.