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MASON V. GRAHAM, 90 U. S. 261 (1874)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mason v. Graham, 90 U.S. 23 Wall. 261 261 (1874)

Mason v. Graham

90 U.S. (23 Wall.) 261


1. The patent of E. H. Graham, of October l6, 1860, reissued May 28, 1867, for "picker staff motion in looms," has no relation to the mere form of a journal-bearing arm, nor does it consist in arranging a journal-bearing arm in a slot in the rocker. It embraces every combination of a rocker with a bed and loose journal bearing arms, arranged so us to produce the result described in the specification as effected by the combination.

2. Inasmuch as the defendant (who was alleged to infringe this invention of Graham) employed a combination of a rocker with a bed by loose journals projecting on each side the picker staff, and the combination was effected by means of a journal-bearing arm, it was held to be unimportant that the form of his journal-bearing arm was unlike that of the complainant's, or that its mode of attachment was different, so long as it performed the same function in substantially the same way. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 90 U. S. 262

3. Where the defendant had been in the habit of selling the infringing picker staff motion both separately and in a form where they were attached to looms, regard should be had, in ascertaining his profits upon those sold with the looms, to his profits upon those sold separately, rather than to the aggregate profits made by him upon the loom and attachment combined.

4. If a defendant has cheapened the cost of producing the infringing device by an improvement of his own, he is entitled to a corresponding credit in the ascertainment of the profits, which a complainant is entitled to recover.

5. After an interlocutory decree and reference to a master in a suit against M., a manufacturer and seller of infringing machines, the owners of the patent commenced proceedings against persons who used machines made and sold by M. M. thereupon, to protect his customers, paid the patentees a sum fixed upon, under a written agreement that the payment should be "in full satisfaction of our right to collect back damages for past infringement" by M.'s customers, and a license fee for the future use of all the machines sold by M.; but the agreement contained a proviso that this settlement should "not affect in any manner our right to recover profits or damages" from M., and that the suit against M. "shall proceed precisely as if this settlement had never been made." Held that the amount paid to the patentees by M. was properly excluded by the master as a credit in computing profits made by M.

Appeal from the Circuit Court for the District of Massachusetts, in which court E. H. Graham filed a bill against one Mason for injunction and account, the bill being founded upon letters patent for an "improvement in picker staff motion for looms," granted to him October 16th, 1860, and reissued May 28th, 1867, which patent and reissue the bill alleged that a machine of Mason, the defendant, infringed.

The object of the invention patented to the complainant was to produce an accurate and sure picker staff motion in looms by a combination of devices which, while giving great accuracy of motion, should so guide and hold the picker staff as to enable it to work with the least possible friction and lateral disarrangement, commonly called "wabbling."

In all picker staff motions, it is desirable, if not essential, that the end of the staff made to strike the shuttle should move in a right line, so as to drive the shuttle directly along the shuttle-race in the line in which it is desired to play.

This has been effected by constructing the lower end of chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 90 U. S. 263

the staff in the form of a rocker, the exterior curve of which is an arc of a circle described from a center corresponding with that point in the staff that strikes the shuttle. This rocker is made to roll on a bed, the face of which is extended parallel to the shuttle-race, and which is placed on the outside of the loom beneath the lay. How to connect the rocker with the bed, so that the picker staff may be maintained in proper position upon the bed, had been a subject of much inquiry. Various modes had been suggested before the complainant obtained his patent, and several of these modes had been described in patents for improvements in looms granted to other inventors.

The invention of Graham, the complainant, is shown in the following drawings:


This figure represents a vertical central longitudinal section through so much of a picker staff and its appurtenances, embracing the said improvements, as is necessary to illustrate the invention.

Figure 2, upon the following page, is a perspective view of same. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 90 U. S. 264


Figure 3 represents a central longitudinal horizontal section through the retracting spring of the picker staff and its cylinder.


Figure 4 is a plan or top view of Figure 1.


The description in the reissue was thus:

"In these figures, a a represent a curved rocker, in the socket b b, of which the picker staff is to be fastened. The rocker a a plays upon a horizontal bed, c c, having a socket d, through which the shaft of the loom passes in the usual way. The shank, e e, of the rocker, a a, is made hollow, or with a suitable box or bearing, f f, into which a shaft arm or bar, g g, is inserted, which arm, by means of journals projecting on each side thereof, has

Page 90 U. S. 265

a bearing in the eyes, i i, formed in the bed piece, c c. By this arrangement, the rocker (in its reciprocating movement) is kept perfectly true in its bearings by the arm or bar, g g, which holds the rocker, a a, truly in position, in consequence of its long bearing therein; and as the arm or bar, g g, also oscillates freely upon its journals, h h, which further serve to steady the rocker laterally, the rocker moves with the least possible friction, and with the greatest accuracy, so that the wear and tear is necessarily but very slight. The eyes or bearings, i i, have inclined slots (shown in dotted lines in Figure 1) cut in them, so as to form ears or open boxes in which the journals, h h, are inserted when the parts of the picker motion are put together. By this means, the shaft or arm, g, and its journals, h, can readily be removed and replaced, and are free to play without liability to work out of their bearings. The rocker, a a, is retracted by means of a spiral spring, k k, wound loosely around a short shaft, l, and attached at one end to a plate, m, which turns freely on the shaft, l. A strap, n, attached to the plate, m, fits over a hook, o, on the under side of the rocker, a a. As the spring, k k, is liable to partially lose its force by the motions of the rocker, a a, this contingency is provided for by forming in the plate, m, a series of holes, p p, into which successively one end of the spring, k k, is set, as fast as it loses its elastic force, whereby the spring can be set up at pleasure, and its force graduated without the necessity of frequent repairings or renewals."

The reader thus sees that the invention described is primarily a combination of a rocker with a bed by means of loose journals projecting on each side of the picker staff, and arranged beneath it substantially as described in the specification. As in other arrangements for picker staff motions, the rocker is made to play upon a horizontal bed, parallel to and below the shuttle-race, and the bed has a socket passing longitudinally through its base, for the passage of the shaft of the loom. The shank of the rocker is made hollow, that is, with a box or bearing extending through its tread upward, into which a shaft arm or bar is inserted. This bar or shaft arm is fitted with journals projecting on each side at right angles with the rocker, and resting in eyes formed in the bed piece, which constitute the journal bearings. The chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 90 U. S. 266

eyes have inclined slots cut in them, so that they form ears, or open boxes, into which the journals are inserted when the parts of the picker staff motion or the constituents of the combination are put together. Thus the shaft and the journals can readily be removed and replaced, and the journals are free to play without working out of their bearings. The rocker is retracted and caused to move by means of a spiral spring, wound loosely around a short shaft below the bed and attached at one end to a plate which turns freely on the shaft, and the plate is connected by a strap with a hook extending from the under side of the rocker, or the lower end of the shaft arm.

The reissue continued:

"The first part of this invention relates to the position of the journals. This position is determined by the position of the socket for the picker staff, which socket is so placed that the point of the picker staff which strikes the shuttle must move in the required line; and this part of the invention consists in placing the journal at or near this socket, and as near the level of the bed as practicable. In this position there is the least possible wear, and the journals perform all their functions to the best possible advantage. It is obvious that as every point upon the rocker varies its position in the action of the motion, with reference to the bed, it is impossible to connect the journal directly with the rocker and its box directly with the bed, or vice versa. One or the other must be indirectly connected, and it is for this reason that in the motion described the journals are placed upon the arm g, upon which the rocker can play up and down. So far as we know, no rocker has ever been combined with its bed by means of journals before this invention."

"The second part of this invention consists in forming the boxes or bearings for the journals with such an opening that the journals may be laid in them in putting the motion together, without liability to work out in the operation of the rocker, as plainly shown in the drawings. This method of construction is much cheaper than making the boxes cylindrical, and is quite as efficient in every respect."

The claims of the reissue were as follows:

"1st. The combination of a rocker of a picker staff with its

Page 90 U. S. 267

bed, by loose journals, projecting on each side of the picker staff, and arranged beneath the picker staff, substantially as described."

"2d. In combination with the rocker, the bed and the journals, the open boxes, substantially as and for the purpose described."

"3d. In combination with the rocker and its bed, the journal-bearing arm, operating substantially as and for the purpose specified."