ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Michigan. The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Justice Bradley delivered the opinion of the court.
Mr. Charles J. Hunt for the plaintiffs in error.
It is the duty of the court to construe the claim of a patent, and to decide as to its ambiguity; to render it certain, and to point out what it is. Emerson v. Hogg, 2 Blatchf. 1; Hogg v. Emerson, 11 How. 587; Washburn v. Gould, 3 Story, 123.
When the claim is for a result in terms, produced by a combination substantially as described, it is a claim of the described means, or rather of the particular organization and devices described, by means of which the specified result is produced. Seymour v. Osborne, 3 Fish. 555; Seymour v. Osborne, 11 Wall. 516; Burden v. Corning, 2 Fish. 474(489); Leroy v. Tatham, 14 How. 156; O'Reilly v. Morse, 15 id. 62; Corning et al. v. Burden, id. 252; Mitchell v. Tilghman, 19 Wall. 287, 391.
In the construction of a patent, the whole instrument, embracing the specification and drawings, is to be taken together; and if from this the exact nature and extent of the claim, made by the inventor, can be perceived, the court is bound to give it full effect. Parker v. Styles, 5 McL. 44; Hogg v. Emerson, supra; Union Sugar Refinery v. Mathieson, 2 Fish. 600.
The patentee cannot be allowed to prove that any part of the combination is immaterial or useless. Vance v. Campbell, 1 Black, 428; Gill v. Wells, 6 Pat. Off. Gaz. 881(885).
The combination is an entirety. If one of the ingredients be given up, the thing claimed disappears. Vance v. Campbell, supra; Gill v. Wells, supra.
If an ingredient substituted for one of the ingredients in a combination is new, or performs substantially a different function, it is no infringement. Roberts v. Herden, 2 Cliff. 504; Gill v. Wells, supra; Turrell v. Illinois Central R.R. Co., 3 Fish. 330.
The inventor of a combination, in improving old machines, cannot invoke the doctrine of equivalents to suppress other improvements which are not merely colorable invasions of the first. McCormick v. Talcott, 20 How. 402, 405; Burden v. Corning, 2 Fish. supra.
Mr. H. H. Wells and Mr. John H. B. Latrobe for the defendant in error.
The true distinction under the patent law between a mere process or effect and a certain mechanical combination, or an improvement on an old machine by which a process or effect is produced, is well settled. Blanchard v. Sprague, 3 Sumn. 535; Corning et al. v. Burden, 15 How. 252; Seymour v. Osborne, 11 Wall. 516.
The patentee is only required to describe his invention with such certainty and particularity as to distinguish it from all others, and to enable one, skilled in the art of which it is a branch, to construct and use it. Teese v. Phelps, McAll. 48; Allen v. Hunter, 6 McL. 303; Judson v. Moore, 1 Fish. Pat. Cas. 544; Gray v. James, 1 Pet. C. C. 394; Brookes v. Bicknall, 3 McL. 250; Treadwell v. Parott, 5 Blatchf. C. C. 369; Singer v. Walmsley, 1 Fish. Pat. Cas. 558; Mowry v. Whitney, 14 Wall. 620.
There is no pretence whatever that Hamilton did not conform to this requirement in his specifications; and they are to be construed in the sense in which the common knowledge of persons skilled in the art would understand them. Winans v. Denmead, 15 How. 341; Klein v. Russel, 19 Wall. 433; Carver v. Braintree Manuf. Co., 2 Story, 432-440; Seymour v. Osborne, 11 Wall. 516.
To constitute an infringement, it is not necessary that the two inventions should be identical. The question is, Were the means used substantially the same? Alden v. Dewey, 1 Story, 336; Root v. Ball & Davis, 4 McL. 180; ...