EB: Wednesday, March 23: "Printed Publication"

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Jockmus v. Leviton, 28 F.2d 812

Charles Jockmus sued Evsor and Isador Leviton (Leviton Manufacturing Company) for infringement of his patent (filed on May 27, 1912) on an electric light fixture made to look like a lighted candle. The defendants presented a German catalog as a prior art, "printed publication" which discloses the invention. The Gogarten & Schmidt catalogue was dated 1908, printed in French, and according to the testimony of Schmidt as well as one of his employees approximately 1000 copies of the publication were sent out to their customers. One page of the catalogue depicted a candle socket very similar to that claimed in the invention.

The District Court for Eastern New York ruled that the catalogue was not sufficient to be considered prior art, but on appeal the Federal Circuit court ruled oppositely. The Circuit judge ruled that "a single copy in a library, though more permanent, is far less fitted to inform the craft than a catalogue freely circulated." Multiple copies of the catalogue were distributed specifically to people who were suspected of having an interest in the art, thus making it far more accessible than any library document (In re Hall). Although there was some questioning as to the disclosure involved in the catalogue, the court ruled that "the whole of this very simple invention was before the reader at a glance." The catalogue did not show "how the end of the upper leg was fastened to the stud," but this detail is irrelevant as it is not the focus of the claimed infringement. Furthermore, the court ruled the testimony of Schmidt and his colleague, along with reasonable application of common knowledge regarding marketing, sufficient to assume the catalogue had been distributed during 1908 or before. Thus, the accusation of infringement was dismissed.

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