EB: EGBERT v. LIPPMANN, 104 U.S. 333 (1881)

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The Situation

Samuel Barnes invented an "improvement in corset-springs," and filed for a patent in March 1866 Egbert is the assignee of the patent Frances Barnes was granted a reissue of the patent in Samuels place (death?)

Accusation

Frances brings a case of infringement against Lippmann

Decision

The patent is invalid because the invention was in public use more than two years prior to application for the patent.

Reasoning

The Act of 1939 renders patents invalid if they were in public use, with the consent and allowance of the inventor for more than two years prior to the application.

Evidence: S. Barnes had given the corset to Frances sometime between January and May 1855, and she used it for a long time, and got another pair from him in 1858. Barnes also showed the invention to Joseph Sturgis in 1863, showing him how it was made and used.

Ruling: Even though Barnes only gave the invention to one person, he allowed them to use it without limitation or restriction - this qualifies as public use (number of people doesn't matter). Barnes applied no restriction and implied no secrecy in giving his invention to Frances = public The use of the invention was not for experimental purposes = public

Dissenting Opinion

Barnes giving private use of his invention with consent which did not lead to copying or reproduction shows no intention of "abandonment to the public" Telling Frances to keep the corset a secret (as the above decision says should have been done) would have been ironic) The use of the invention should not be considered public.