LOOM COMPANY V. HIGGINS, 105 U. S. 580 (1881)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Loom Company v. Higgins, 105 U.S. 580 (1881)

Loom Company v. Higgins

105 U.S. 580


1. A specification in letters patent is sufficiently clear and descriptive when expressed in terms intelligible to a person skilled in the art to which it relates.

2. Evidence is admissible to show the meaning of terms used in letters patent, as well as the state of the art.

3. If an improvement of a well known appendage to a machine is fully described in a specification, it is not necessary to show the ordinary modes of attaching the appendage to the machine; the letters patent are to be read as if the machine and its appendage were present or in the mind of the reader, and he a person skilled in the art.

4. Quaere whether the defense of insufficient description can be set up without alleging an intent to deceive the public.

5. A new combination of known devices, producing a new and useful result (as that of greatly increasing the effectiveness of a machine), is evidence of invention, and may be the subject of letters patent.

6. William Webster's improvement in looms for weaving pile fabrics, consists of such a new combination of known devices as to give to a loom the capacity of weaving fifty yards of carpet a day, when before it could only

weave forty, held that the improvement is patentable, and that letters patent No. 130,961, dated Aug. 27, 1872, granted to him therefor are valid.

7. Of the two original inventors, the first will be entitled to letters patent unless the other puts the invention into public use more than two years before the application for them.

8. An invention relating to machinery may be exhibited as well in a drawing as in a model, so as to lay the foundation of a claim to priority, if sufficiently plain to enable those skilled in the art to understand it.

9. Though the defense of prior invention ought to be set out in the answer, yet if the omission to set it out is not objected to at the proper time in the court below, it cannot be objected to here.

Page 105 U. S. 581

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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