Wednesday, November 13, 2013

City of Elizabeth v. American Nicholson Pavement Co. case brief

City of Elizabeth v. American Nicholson Pavement Co. case brief summary
97 U.S. 126 (1877)

Appellants sought review of a decision from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of New Jersey, which held that appellants infringed on appellee's patent for wooden pavement.

The patent infringement suit was brought by appellee, a patent holder for a type of wooden pavement, against appellants, a city, an individual, and a corporation. Appellant city contracted with appellant corporation to construct wooden pavements but claimed that what was constructed did not infringe on appellee's patent. The court below ruled in favor of appellee and entered a decree against all appellants.

On appeal, appellants claimed that appellee's invention had no novelty.

  • The Court disagreed and found that none of the similar patents appellants referenced combined all the elements of appellee's, much less exhibited a combination of those elements arranged according to his plan. 
  • The Court also found that appellee's experimental use of his pavement prior to obtaining a patent did not constitute public use within the meaning of patent law. 
  • Accordingly, the Court affirmed the lower court's finding of infringement, but reversed the court's assessment of profits against appellant city and appellant individual. 
  • Because only appellant corporation made profit by construction of the pavement in question, the Court ordered that the decree below be amended to conform with its ruling.

The decision below was reversed with respect to the profits assessed against appellant city and appellant individual because they could not be charged with profits they did not make, but affirmed the lower court's finding of infringement. The court remanded with instructions to enter a decree in conformity with the opinion.

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