U.S. Supreme Court
Marsh v. Nichols, Shepard & Co., 140 U.S. 344 (1891)
Marsh v. Nichols, Shepard & Company
Argued January 6, 1891
Decided May 11, 1891
140 U.S. 344
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF
CALHOUN COUNTY, STATE OF MICHIGAN
A bill in equity in a state court, with jurisdiction over the parties, brought to enforce the specific performance of a contract whereby an inventor who, having taken out letters patent for his invention, agreed to transfer an interest therein to the plaintiff, and proceedings thereunder involving no question arising under the patent laws of the United States, and not questioning the validity of the patent, or considering its construction, or the patentability of the device, relate to subjects within the jurisdiction of that court, and its decree thereon raises no federal question for consideration here.
In 1880, Elon A. Marsh had devised and applied for a patent upon a valve gear for steam engines, and Nichols, Shepard & Co., which is a corporation of the Michigan, contended in this action, as hereafter set forth, that in that year, while his application was pending in the Patent Office, Marsh agreed with Nichols, an officer of the corporation, that Nichols was to do certain things in exploiting the invention, in return for which Marsh was to allow a shop right to the use of it, and that Nichols performed his part of the agreement. Marsh assigned an interest in the patent, before it issued, to Minard La Fever, and they assigned an interest to one Scott. All the parties were citizens of Michigan.