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U.S. Supreme Court

Richmond Screw Anchor Co. v. United States, 275 U.S. 331 (1928)

Richmond Screw Anchor Company v. United States

No. 99

Argued December 1, 1927

Decided January 3, 1928

275 U.S. 331


1. Patent No. 1,228, 120, issued May 29, 1917, to Lenke for a cargo beam capable of moving on a horizontal axis so as to present its full strength in the line of stress, thus permitting the use of less metal than was required for the fixed beam of the prior art, and saving expense in installation, held valid. P. 275 U. S. 339.

2. Where two reasons are given in an opinion for the same decision, neither is obiter dictum. P. 275 U. S. 340.

3. Rev.Stat. § 3477, forbidding assignments of claims against the United States prior to allowance, liquidation, and issuance of a warrant for payment applied to claims for infringement of a patent. P. 275 U. S. 340.

4. The right to recover for past infringement of a patent by a private party is assignable with the patent. P. 275 U. S. 344.

5. Under the Act of June 25, 1910, where a patented article was made for the United States by a contractor, unauthorized by the patent owner, and used by the United States, the patent owner had an assignable right of action for the infringement against the contractor, and a claim against the United States for reasonable compensation for the use, assertable in the Court of Claims, but subject to the provisions of Rev.Stats. § 3477 forbidding assignments. Pp. 341, 275 U. S. 344, 275 U. S. 346.

6. Under the Act of July 1, 1918, which did away with the remedy against the contractor in such cases and confined the patent owner to a suit against the United States in the Court of Claims for "recovery of his reasonable and entire compensation for such use and manufacture," the claim of the patent owner against the chanrobles.com-red

Page 275 U. S. 332

United States for manufacture and use occurring since the date of the Act is assignable with the patent, notwithstanding the sweeping terms of Rev.Stats. § 3477. P. 275 U. S. 345.

7. Federal statutes should be so construed as to avoid serious doubt of their constitutionality. P. 275 U. S. 346.

8. The special intent to permit such assignments, deducible from the later statute and its history, though not expressed, must prevail over the broad general term of the earlier one forbidding assignments. P. 275 U. S. 346.

61 Ct.Cls. 397 reversed.

Certiorari, 273 U.S. 679, to a judgment of the Court of Claims rejecting a claim for infringement of a patent. chanrobles.com-red

Page 275 U. S. 337


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