Graver Tank & Mfg. Co. v. Linde Air Products Co. (901422128)

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Read for 3/25/11

Reading Notes

  • Decided by the USSC in 1950
  • Linde sued Graver for infringement of a patent relating to electric welding
  • Rulings
    • District court riled certain claims invalid and others valid and infringed
    • CAFC reversed the invalid claims
    • Supreme Court agreed with District Court and found four claims infringed by doctrine of equivalents
  • Does the substitution of the manganese (not alkaline earth metal) for the magnesium constitute a substantial change as to make the doctrine inapplicable
  • Two are equivalent for welding purposes
    • Identical in operation and result


  • First step is to resort to the first instance of the words of the claims
    • If accused matter is clearly withing the claim, it infringes
  • Cannot limit infringement to exact duplications because that would not be fair the inventor because those who copy could make insignificant changes
    • Response to this was doctrine of equivalents
  • Doctrine of equivalents
    • Purpose is that one may not practice fraud
    • "if it performs substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain the same result"
    • Applied to mechanical or chemical equivalents
    • Equivalence is not an absolute

Dissenting Judge

  • Gracer's flux did not literally infringe the patent, as all agreed
    • What is not specifically claimed is dedicated to the public
  • Congress created a statute which has been interpreted to allow inventors to expand their claims
  • Inventor had even tested manganese and found the others more suitable
  • Not a manufacturer cannot rely on the language of a patent claims
    • Business men should be free to utilize all knowledge not preempted by the precise language of a patent claims

Class Notes