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U.S. Supreme Court

Carnegie Steel Co. v. Cambria Iron Co., 185 U.S. 403 (1902)

Carnegie Steel Company v. Cambria Iron Company

No. 17

Argued October 17-18, 21, 1901

Decided May 6, 1902

185 U.S. 403


Patent No. 404,414, issued June 4, 1889, to William R. Jones, for a "method of mixing molten pig metal," is a good and valid patent, and was infringed by the defendant.

The process described in the patent consisted of a large reservoir between the blast furnaces and tile converters, in which should always be maintained a large quantity of metal, which should be drawn off in small quantities at a time and replenished by a like quantity of metal from the blast furnaces.

A process patent can only be anticipated by a similar process. A process patent is not anticipated by mechanism which might, with slight alterations, have been adapted to carry out that process unless at least such use of it would have occurred to one whose duty it was to make practical use of the mechanism described.

A disclaimer may extend to a part of the specification as well as to a claim or one feature of a claim, though it would be otherwise if the purpose of the disclaimer had been to alter tile description of the invention or convert the claim from one thing into something else.

A stipulation of counsel entered into for the purpose of saving time may be repudiated where the facts subsequently developed show that with respect to a particular matter it was inadvertently signed, provided that notice be given in sufficient time to prevent prejudice to the opposite party.

This was a bill in equity filed in the Circuit Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by the Carnegie Steel Company against the Cambria Iron Company for an injunction and the recovery of damages for the infringement of letters patent No. 404,414, issued June 4, 1889, to William R. Jones, of whom plaintiff was the assignee, for a "method of mixing molten pig metal."

In his specification the patentee declares that the --

"Primary object of my invention is to provide means for rendering the product of steel works uniform in chemical composition.

Page 185 U. S. 404

In practice, it is found that metal tapped from different blast furnaces is apt to vary considerably in chemical composition, particularly in silicon and sulphur, and such lack of uniformity is observable in different portions of the same cast, and even in different portions of the same pig. . . . The consequence of this tendency of the silicon and sulphur to segregate or form pockets in the crude metal is that the product of the refining process in the converters or otherwise in like manner lacks uniformity in these elements, and therefore often causes great inconvenience and loss, making it impossible to manufacture all the articles of a single order of homogeneous composition. Especially is this so in the process of refining crude iron taken from the smelting furnace and charged directly into the converter without remelting in a cupola, and, although such direct process possesses many economic advantages, it has on this account been little practiced."

"For the purpose of avoiding the practical evils above stated, I use in the refining process a charge composed not merely of metal taken at one time from the smelting furnace, but of a number of parts taken from different smelting furnaces, or from the same furnace at different casts or at different periods of the same cast, and subject the metal before its final refining to a process of mixing whereby its particles are diffused or mingled thoroughly among each other, and the entire charge is practically homogeneous in composition, representing in each part the average of the unequally diffused and segregated elements of silicon and sulphur originally contained in each of the several parts or charges. By proceeding in this way, not only is each charge for the refining furnace or converter homogeneous in itself, but, as it represents an average of a variety of uniform constituent parts, all the charges of the converter from time to time will be substantially uniform, and the products of all will be homogeneous."

"To this end, my invention may be practiced with a variety of forms of apparatus -- for example, by merely receiving in a charging ladle a number of small portions of metal taken from several ladles or receiving vessels containing crude metal obtained at different times or from different furnaces, the mixing being

Page 185 U. S. 405

performed merely by the act of pouring into the charging ladle, and other like means may be employed. (The clause in italics was subsequently disclaimed.) I prefer, however, to employ the apparatus shown in the accompanying drawings, and have made it the subject of a separate patent application, serial No. 289,673, and, without intending to limit the invention to the use of that specific apparatus, I shall describe it particularly, so that others skilled in the art may intelligently employ the same."

"My invention is not limited to its use in connection with converters, since similar advantages may be obtained by casting the metal from the mixing vessel into pigs for use in converters, puddling furnaces, or for any other uses to which pig iron may be put in the art."

(This paragraph subsequently disclaimed.)

(The apparatus is represented by the drawing here inserted.)


"Referring now to the drawings, 2 represents the reservoir before mentioned. It consists of a covered hollow vessel having an outer casing 3, of iron or steel, which is suitably braced and strengthened by interior beams and tie-rods, as shown in the drawings. The whole exterior of the vessel is lined with fire brick or other refractory lining, which should be of sufficient

Page 185 U. S. 406

thickness to retain the heat of the molten contents of the vessel and to prevent chilling thereof. The vessel is strongly braced and supported by braces and tie-rods, and may be of any convenient size, holding, say, one hundred tons of metal (more or less), and its shape is preferably such as shown in the drawings, being rectangular, or nearly so, in cross-section and an irregular trapezium in longitudinal section, one end being considerably deeper than the other. At the top of the deeper end, which I call the 'rear' end, is a hopper 5, into which the molten metal employed in charging the vessel is poured, and at the front end is a discharge spout 6, which is so located that the bottom of the spout is some distance above the bottom of the vessel -- say 2 feet in a hundred-ton tank, and more or less, according to the capacity of the vessel -- the purpose of which is that, when the metal is poured out of the spout, a considerable quantity may always be left remaining and unpoured, and that whenever the vessel is replenished, there may already be contained in it a body of molten metal with which the fresh addition may mix. I thus secure as much as possible uniformity in the character of the metal which is fed to and discharged from the tank, and cause the fluctuations in quality of the successive tappings to be very gradual."

"For convenient rged from the tank, and cause the fluctuations in quality of the successive tappings to be very gradual."

"For convenient rged from the tank, and cause the fluctuations in quality of the successive tappings to be very gradual."

"For convenient use of the apparatus, I have found it best to so arrange it that it is adapted to receive its charges of metals from cars or bogies 7, which run on an elevated track at about the level of the normal position of the hopper 5, and to discharge its contents into similar cars or bogies 15 on a track below the spout 6. In order to facilitate the charging and discharging of the metal, the vessel is set on journals or bearings 8, which have their bearings in suitable pedestals 9, and its rear end is provided with depending rack bars 10, which are pivotally connected with the bottom of the mixing vessel 2, and are in gear with pinions 11, the shaft of which is connected by gearings 12 with the driving mechanism of a suitable engine. The pinions are held in gear with the rack bars by idler wheels or rollers 13. As the journals or bearings 8 are located on a transverse line somewhat in advance of the center of gravity

Page 185 U. S. 407

of the vessel, it tends by its own weight to tilt backward into the position shown in Fig. 1, but may be restored to a level position by driving the pinions 11, and thus raising the rack bars 10 until the front part of the bottom of the vessel comes in contact with a rest or stop 14."

"The mode of operation of the apparatus is as follows: when the vessel is in the backwardly inclined position shown in Fig. 1, it is ready to receive a charge of metal from the car 7. Before introducing the first charge, however, the mixing vessels should be heated by internal combustion of coke or gas, and when the walls of the vessel are sufficiently hot to hold the molten metal without chilling it, it is charged repeatedly from the cars 7 with metal obtained either from a number of furnaces or at different times from a single furnace. The charges of metal introduced at different times into the vessel, though differing in quality, mix together, and when the vessel has received a sufficient charge, its contents constitute a homogeneous molten mass whose quality may not be precisely the same as that of any one of its constituent charges, but represents the average quality of all the charges. If desired, the commingling of the contents may be aided by agitation of the vessel on its trunnions so as to cause the stirring or shaking of its liquid contents. The mixing chamber being deeper at its rear than at the front end, as before described, and its normal position, when not discharging metal for the purpose of casting, being with the bottom inclined upward toward the front or discharging end, and the bottom of the spout being situate above the bottom of the vessel at its forward end, it is adapted to receive and hold a large quantity of molten metal without its surface's rising high enough to enter the discharge spout."

"The discharge spout 6 is furnished with a movable cover operated by a weighted lever 16, which, when closed, serves to exclude the outside air and prevent a draft of air through the vessel and the consequent rapid cooling of the molten contents. If care is exercised in keeping the cover closed, the metal can be kept in a fluid condition for a long time, the heat being kept up by repeated fresh charges of molten metal, and, if necessary or found desirable, by burning gas introduced by a pipe or pipes into its interior. "

Page 185 U. S. 408

"After the vessel is properly charged, the metal is drawn off into the cars 15 from time to time, as it is needed, by opening the door or cover 16 of the spout 6 and driving the engine 12 so as to elevate the rear end of the vessel and tilt it forward, and thus to discharge any required amount of its contents in the manner before explained into the cars 15, which are transported to the converters, or the metal is cast into pigs or otherwise used. (Italics disclaimed.) The tilting of the vessel does not, however, drain off all the contents thereof, a portion being prevented from escaping by reason of the elevated position of the spout 6, and as the vessel is replenished from time to time, each new charge mixes with parts of previous charges remaining in the vessel, by which means any sudden variations in the quality of the metal supplied to the converter is avoided. Instead of discharging the metal into the cars 12 and carrying it in the cars to the converters or casting house, the vessel 2 may be so situate relatively to the other parts of a furnace plant as to deliver its contents immediately to the converters or other place where it is to be utilized."

"I find it in practice very advantageous to employ two or more mixing vessels constructed substantially as I have described, and to draw a portion of each converter charge from each of the mixing vessels. My invention is, however, not limited to the employment of two or any specific number of such vessels."

"I shall now describe briefly other parts of the apparatus which are desirable and important in its practical use."

"At the top of the vessel 2 are manholes 17 designed to permit of access to its interior for the purpose of repairing or fixing the lining. These holes are provided with suitable covers 18 to exclude cold drafts of air from entering the interior. There is also a hole 19 at the rear end of the vessel near the top, through which a rabble may be inserted for the purpose of assisting or accelerating the mixing of the molten metal, and at the other end at the level of the bottom of the interior, there are holes 20 provided with suitable spouts to enable all the molten contents to be drawn off when it becomes necessary to do so. (See Fig. 3.) The holes 20 should be provided with suitable stoppers. "

Page 185 U. S. 409

"I claim --"

"1. In the art of refining iron directly from the smelting furnace, the process of equalizing the chemical composition of the crude metal by thoroughly commingling or mixing together the liquid-metal charge and subsequently refining the mixed and equalize charge, substantially as and for the purposes described."

"2. In the art of mixing molten metal to secure uniformity of the same in its constituent parts preparatory to further treatment, the process of introducing into a mixing receptacle successive portions of molten metal ununiform in their nonmetallic constituents (sulphur, silicon, etc.) removing portions only of the composite molten contents of the receptacle without entirely draining or emptying the same, and successively replenishing the receptacle with fresh ununiform additions, substantially as and for the purposes described."

The answer set up the invalidity of the patent by reason of an insufficient specification, anticipation, want of novelty, and abandonment, and also denied infringement.

Upon a hearing upon the pleadings and proofs, the circuit court held with the plaintiff, and found that the process was patentable; that it was not anticipated; that it was of great utility and importance, and that defendant had infringed the second claim. 89 F.7d 1.

A decree having been entered for an injunction and an account of profits and damages, in accordance with this opinion, the case was carried to the court of appeals, which ordered the decree of the circuit court to be reversed and the case remanded to that court with direction to dismiss the bill. 96 F.8d 0. Whereupon plaintiff applied for and was granted this writ of certiorari. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 185 U. S. 410

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