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Troy Iron & Nail Factory v. Corning, 55 U.S. 14 How. 193 193 (1852)

Troy Iron & Nail Factory v. Corning

55 U.S. (14 How.) 193


In 1834, Burden obtained a patent for a new and useful improvement in the machinery for manufacturing wrought nails and spikes which he assigned to the Troy Iron & Nail Factory, and also covenanted that he would convey to that company any improvement which he might thereafter make.

In 1840, he made such an improvement, for making hook and brad-headed spikes with a bending lever, which he assigned to the Troy Iron & Nail Factory in 1848.

Before this last assignment, however, viz., in 1845, Burden made an agreement with Corning, Horner, and Winslow in which, amongst other things, it was agreed that both parties might thereafter manufacture and vend spikes of such kind and character as they saw fit notwithstanding their conflicting claims.

Owing to the peculiar attitude of the parties to each other at the time of making this agreement and the language used in it, it cannot be construed into a permission to Corning, Horner, and Winslow, to use the improved machinery patented by Burden in 1840, and the right to use it having passed to the Troy Iron & Nail Factory, a perpetual injunction upon Corning, Horner, and Winslow will be decreed.

Page 55 U. S. 194

The facts are all stated in the opinion of the Court.

The bill was filed in the circuit court by the Troy Iron & Nail Factory against Corning, Winslow, and Horner to restrain them from violating a patent issued to Henry Burden on the 8th of September, 1840, for new and useful improvements in the machinery for making hook or brad-headed spike, which patent had been assigned to them, and also to account for the profits.

After the proceeding mentioned in the opinion of the court, the circuit court passed the following decree:

"This cause having heretofore been brought to a hearing upon the pleadings and proofs, and counsel for the respective parties having been heard and due deliberation thereupon had, and it appearing to the said court that the said Henry Burden was the first and original inventor of the improvement on the spike machine in the bill of complaint mentioned, and for which a patent was issued to the said Henry Burden bearing date the 2d of September, 1840, as in said bill of complaint set forth, and that the said complainants have a full and perfect title to the said patents for said improvements by assignment from the said Henry Burden, as is stated and set forth in the said bill of complaint."

"But it also further appearing to the court, on the pleadings and proofs that the instrument in writing bearing date the 14th of October, 1845, stated and set forth in the said bill of complaint and also in the answer of the said defendants thereto, entered into upon a settlement and compromise of certain conflicting claims between the said parties, and among others of mutual conflicting claims to the improvements in the spike machine in said bill mentioned, and when said instrument was executed by the said Henry Burden of the one part, and the said defendants of the other, the said Henry Burden at the time being the patentee and legal owner of the said improvements and fully authorized to settle and adjust the said conflicting claims, did, in legal effect and by just construction, impart and authorize and convey a right to the defendants to use the said improvements in the manufacture of the hook-headed spike without limitation as to the number of machines so by them to be used or as to the place or district in which to be used."

"Therefore it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the said bill of complaint be and the same is hereby dismissed, with costs to be taxed, and that the defendants have execution therefor."

From this decree, the complainants appealed to this Court.

Page 55 U. S. 205

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