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U.S. Supreme Court

Torrent Arms Lumber Co. v. Rodgers, 112 U.S. 659 (1884)

Torrent Arms Lumber Company v. Rodgers

Argued November 25, 1884

Decided December 22, 1884

112 U.S. 659


A reissue of a patent, applied for with unreasonable delay, and for the purpose of enlarging the specification and claims in order to include within the monopoly an invention patented after the original patent was granted, is void as to the new claims.

This was an action at law brought June 25, 1879, by Alexander Rodgers, the defendant in error, against The Torrent and Arms Lumber Company, the plaintiff in error, to recover damages for the infringement of reissued letters patent for "a new and improved machine for rolling saw logs," dated June 25, 1873, granted to Rodgers as the assignee of Esau Torrent, the original patentee. The lumber company pleaded the general issue, with notice that, among other things, it would give in evidence and insist in its defense

"That the said patentee and his assignee, the plaintiff, unjustly obtained the reissued patent for matters and principles embraced in such reissue not included in the original patent or specification therefor, and for what was in fact invented by another, to-wit, John Torrent, of the City of Muskegon, who was using reasonable diligence in adapting and perfecting the same;"

that John Torrent

"made his application for a patent therefor on January 29, 1873, and his patent was granted August 12, 1873, and the plaintiff and his assignee had knowledge prior to the application for such reissue of the aforesaid application for patent by the said John

Page 112 U. S. 660

Torrent, and the said principles so patented by the said John Torrent had (by him) been used at the City of Muskegon aforesaid by said John Torrent and others."

Upon the trial in the circuit court, Rodgers, to maintain the issue on his part, introduced in evidence the original letters patent, dated August 25, 1868, granted to Esau Torrent for


"a new and improved machine for rolling saw logs," the assignment of said letters patent by the patentee to Rodgers, and the reissued letters patent granted to Rodgers as the assignee of Torrent, applied for June 25, 1873, and issued and dated July 15, 1873.

The specification and claims of the original and reissued patents were both illustrated by the annexed drawings. chanrobles.com-redchanrobles.com-red

Page 112 U. S. 661

The original specification is here reproduced so as to show the changes made in the reissue. The parts in italics are found in the reissue and not in the original, and the parts enclosed in brackets are found in the original and not in the reissue:

"Be it known that I, Esau Torrent, of Muskegon, in the County of Muskegon and State of Michigan, have invented a"


"new and improved machine for turning [rolling saw] logs, and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, which will enable others skilled in the art to which it appertains to make and use the same; reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming [a] part of this specification: "

Page 112 U. S. 662

"Figure 1 is a side view of my improved machine, parts of the frame being broken away to show the construction."

"Figure 2 is a detail sectional view of the same taken through the line x x of Figure 1."

"Similar letters of reference indicate corresponding parts in the different figures of the drawing."

"My invention has for its object to furnish an improved device for turning or rolling logs to or upon the carriage of circular or other saw mills, which shall be simple in construction, effective in operation, and conveniently operated, and it consists in the application for that purpose of a toothed bar connected with means for giving it the necessary movement; and, further, in the construction and combination of the various parts, as hereinafter more fully described."

"A represents [a part of] the frame work, and B [represents] the log carriage of a [an ordinary] saw mill [about the construction of which parts there is nothing new]."

"C is a [an upright] bar having teeth, c1, attached to its forward side, and which [moves up and down between the posts D, attached to the frame A], has a vertical as well as horizontal movement, controlled by suitable guides."

"The lower end of the toothed arm C is pivoted to and between two blocks E, which moves up and down in grooves in the inner sides of the posts D, as shown in Figure 2, and in dotted lines in Figure 1."

This construction enables the upper end of the [upright] bar C to move back and forth to adjust itself to the size of the log to be rolled or turned upon the carriage B and also to enable the teeth c1 to pass the log when the bar is descending in the inner sides of the posts D, as shown in Figure 2 and in dotted lines in Figure 1. This construction enables the upper end of the [upright] bar C to move back and forth to adjust itself to the size of the log to be rolled or turned upon the carriage B, and also to enable the teeth c1 to pass the log when the bar is descending. To the rear side of the lower end of the bar C is attached, or upon it is formed, a block, arm, or projection, c2, to which is attached the end of the rope or chain F by means of which the said [upright] bar C is raised to turn the log. This manner of attaching the hoisting chain forces the upper end of the said bar C forward, causing the teeth c1 to take a firm [firmer] hold upon the log to be rolled. The chain or rope, F passes over a pulley G, secured in a proper position [immediately] beneath a log deck H and chanrobles.com-redchanrobles.com-red

Page 112 U. S. 663

thence down to the barrel or drum, I upon [of] the shaft, J, to which one [its] end of it is securely attached.

"Upon [To] the shaft J, is also attached the large friction pulley K, to which motion is given by the small friction pulley L, secured upon [attached to] the shaft M, to which shaft is also attached the pulley N, by means of which motion is communicated to the apparatus from the driving power of the mill. One end of the shaft M, works in stationary bearings attached to or connected with the frame of the mill, and its other end works in bearings secured upon [attached to] the bridge tree O, one end of which is pivoted to the frame A, and the other [end of which] rests upon the cam P, of the cam shaft Q, so that by means of said cam shaft the bridge tree O, may be raised or lowered to bring the friction pulley L, into or remove it from contact with the friction pulley K. R is a brake bar which may be made of wood or other suitable material. One end of this [the] brake bar [R] is pivoted to the frame A, or [to] some other suitable support, and its other end is connected with one [the] end of the bridge tree, O by the bar S, so that as the friction pulley L, is moved away from the [friction] pulley K, the brake may be applied to the friction pulley K, either to hold the bar C stationary, or to allow it to descend with any desired rapidity. To one end of the cam shaft Q, is attached a lever or arm T, having a weight U suspended from its end, which may be regulated so as to hold the friction pulley L against the [friction] pulley K, with any desired force. The lever or arm T may be operated to throw the friction pulley L into or out of gear with the friction pulley K by means of levers or cords, as may be desired or found most convenient."

"Having thus described my invention, [what] I claim as new and desire to secure by letters patent [is] --"

"1. The toothed bar herein described, operating substantially in the manner and for the purpose specified."

"[1] 2. The toothed bar C, pivoted at its lower end between the blocks E, which are adapted to slide in vertical grooves formed in the posts D, whereby the said bar C, is rendered vertically

Page 112 U. S. 664

movable and capable of adjustment to suit logs of different sizes, substantially as herein set forth [and shown]."

"3. The combination [arrangement] of the pivoted brake R, connection S, and pivoted bridge tree O [in which is formed the outer bearing for shaft m], substantially as herein shown and described [whereby pulley L is removed from contact with pulley K and the brake brought into contact with the latter and vice versa simultaneously, as herein set forth]."

"[2] 4. The combination with [and arrangement with relation to] the bar C of the cord or chain F, pulley G, shaft J, drum I, friction pulleys K, L, and adjustable shaft M, [all] substantially as set forth [and shown]."

"[4] 5. The combination [arrangement] of the cam P, and shaft [P], and weighted arm T, with [relation to] the connected brake and bridge tree, to operate as and for the purpose described."

It appeared by the bill of exceptions that the only claim of the reissued patent upon which the plaintiff relied, or which was considered under the instructions of the court to the jury, was the first claim. The plaintiff relied simply upon the infringement of the toothed bar and its mode of operation. He did not allege infringement of any combination claim, or of the device, or any of its parts, by which the movement of the toothed bar was produced.

The plaintiff also introduced evidence tending to show, as he claimed, infringement by the defendant of the first claim of the reissued patent, and evidence tending to show the damages sustained by him by reason of such infringement. The defendant, to sustain his defenses, introduced in evidence letters patent "for certain improvements in log turners" issued to John Torrent, dated August 12, 1873, upon his application therefor filed January 29, 1873. In this patent, a wedge shaped tooth bar is shown hinged at its lower end to an upright shaft, in order that it might adjust itself in proper position to take hold of a log and roll it to and on the carriage of a saw mill. The apparatus was shown in combination with inclined ways upon the log deck, provided with a stop to hold back the logs which lay side by side in a series on the log deck, and it was intended chanrobles.com-redchanrobles.com-red

Page 112 U. S. 665

that the log turning device should separate the last log in the series from the others, and roll it over from the deck upon the carriage. The first claim of the patent was "the toothed bar, the bottom of which is pivoted to an upright reciprocating shaft, as described." The specification of the patent was illustrated by the annexed drawing:


The defendant then introduced evidence tending to show that the machine the use of which by him was charged by the plaintiff to be an infringement on his reissued letters patent, was constructed according to the patent of John Torrent, just described.

The evidence having been closed, the defendant asked the court to charge the jury

"That in view of the pleadings and proof, and the claims and disclaimers of the plaintiff regarding the portion of his patent claimed to be infringed, the jury are instructed to render a verdict for the defendant. "

Page 112 U. S. 666

The court refused to give this charge. After receiving the charge of the court upon the case, as presented by the pleadings and evidence, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $960, on which the court rendered judgment. The writ of error in this case brings up that judgment for review.


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