Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Egbert v. Lippmann case brief

Egbert v. Lippmann case brief summary
104 U.S. 333 (1881)

Appellant sought review of a decision by the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, rendered in favor of appellee in an action brought by appellant for the alleged infringement of appellant's reissued letters-patent for an improvement in corset springs.


  • The Court held on review that, under 5 Stat. 117, ch. 357 (1836), if an invention was in public use for more than two years prior to the patent application, with the consent and allowance of the inventor, the effect was to render the letters-patent invalid. 
  • To establish such public use it was not necessary that more than one of the patented articles be publicly used, nor did public use necessarily depend upon the number of persons to whom the articles' use was known. 
  • Where evidence established that the original inventor made public use of the invention, presented samples of invention to others, and imposed no obligation or restriction of secrecy when samples were not presented for purposes of experiment, and when public use the invention was complete, such evidence was competent to establish public use under 5 Stat. 117, ch. 357 (1836). 
  • Further, because the original inventor slept on his rights for 11 years while the invention made its way into almost universal public use, abandonment of the invention could be inferred from the conduct of the inventor.

The Court affirmed the circuit court's decree.

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