WOLLENSAK V. REIHER, 115 U. S. 96 (1885)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wollensak v. Reiher, 115 U.S. 96 (1885)

Wollensak v. Reiher

Argued April 14-15, 1885

Decided May 4, 1885

115 U.S. 96


The question whether delay in applying for a reissue of a patent has been reasonable or unreasonable is a question of law for the determination of the court.

The action of the Patent Office in granting a reissue and deciding that from special circumstances shown it appeared that the applicant had not been guilty of laches in applying for it is not sufficient to explain a delay in the application which otherwise appears unreasonable and to constitute laches.

When a reissue expands the claims of the original patent, and it appears that there was a delay of two years or more in applying for it, the delay invalidates the reissue unless accounted for and shown to be reasonable.

A bill in equity which sets forth the issue of a patent and a reissue with expanded claims after a lapse of two or more years and states no sufficient explanation of the cause of the delay presents a question of laches which may be availed of as a defense upon general demurrer for want of equity.

The facts which make the case are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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