DUER V. CORBIN CABINET LOCK CO., 149 U. S. 216 (1893)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Duer v. Corbin Cabinet Lock Co., 149 U.S. 216 (1893)

Duer v. Corbin Cabinet Lock Company

No. 191

Submitted March 28, 1893

Decided May 1, 1893

149 U.S. 216


The invention claimed in letters patent No. 262,977, issued August 22, 1882, to Morris L. Orum for an improvement in locks for furniture, in view of the previous state of the art had no patentable novelty.

The mere fact that a patented article is popular and meets with large and increasing sales is unimportant when the alleged invention is clearly without patentable novelty.

This was a bill in equity for the infringement of letters patent No. 262,977, issued August 22, 1882, to Morris L. Orum, for an improvement in locks for furniture, such as are used on bureau or desk drawers or the doors of wardrobes, washstands, etc., and, as stated by the patentee in his specification,

"it has for its object to provide a lock of such shape as to adapt it for insertion in a mortise of peculiar form, whereby a pair of the securing screws or nails is dispensed with and the case of the lock is held laterally in the mortise by reason of its conformity thereto in shape."

The following drawings illustrate the lock and mortise in which it is held:


Page 149 U. S. 217


The patentee further said in his specification:

"The lock costs no more than an ordinary one of equal quality, and to attach it, one tack is used instead of four screws, as usual, but the main advantage is due to the saving of time and labor in making the mortise, and to the superiority of the finished job by reason of the fact that the lock plate is countersunk in the wood, instead of lying upon its surface. This result has never heretofore been attained except, by hand chiseling, which is a slow and tedious process."

"I am aware that locks arranged to dovetail into their mortises are not broadly new, and such I do not claim."

His claim, and there was but a single one, was as follows:

"The lock herein described, having a dovetail cap and top plate and a front plate projecting laterally and below the cap and rounded at the bottom whereby the lock is adapted for insertion in a mortise formed by a laterally cutting bit, and when in place is sustained by a countersunk front plate, as set forth."

The answer set up certain anticipating devices owned by the defendant, and the case was heard in the court below upon the pleadings and proofs, and the bill dismissed. 37 F.3d 8. Plaintiff thereupon appealed to this Court.

Page 149 U. S. 218

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