Metallizing Engineering Co., Inc. v. Kenyon Bearing & Auto Parts Co., Inc. (JWB)

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The Case

  • Court of Appeals from District Court of Connecticut
  • Defendants infringed on patent issued May 25, 1943 (applied for Aug 6, 1942)
  • Patent for process of ‘so conditioning a metal surface that the same is, as a rule, capable of bonding thereto applied spray metal to a higher degree than is normally procurable with hitherto known practices'
    • It is primarily useful for building up the worn metal parts of a machine
    • like spraying molten metal onto desired surface to build up – called ‘metalizing’ (known for thirty years before Meduna’s invention)
  • Patent built on old process of sanding down and cleaning metal surface
  • Decide if Meduna's public use of the patented process more than one year before August 6, 1942

History of Statutory Laws

  • First and second Patent Acts: the petition for a patent must state that the subject matter had not been ‘before known or used.’
  • Act of 1836: the invention must not at the time of the application for a patent have been ‘in public use or on sale’ with the inventor's ‘consent or allowance’
  • Act of 1839: ‘no patent shall be held to be invalid by reason of such purchase, sale, or use prior to the application for a patent except on proof of abandonment of such invention to the public; or that such purchase, sale, or prior use has been for more than two years prior to such application’
  • Revised Statutes: the invention shall not have been ‘in public use or on sale for more than two years prior to his application,’ and that it shall not have been ‘proved to have been abandoned’

Ruling

  • “if he goes beyond that period of probation, he forfeits his right regardless of how little the public may have learned about the invention”
  • “It is indeed true that an inventor may continue for more than a year to practice his invention for his private purposes of his own enjoyment and later patent it. But that is, properly considered, not an exception to the doctrine, for he is not then making use of his secret to gain a competitive advantage over others; he does not thereby extend the period of his monopoly”
  • Reversed, complaint dismissed