ECLIPSE BICYCLE CO. V. FARROW, 199 U. S. 581 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Eclipse Bicycle Co. v. Farrow, 199 U.S. 581 (1905)

Eclipse Bicycle Company v. Farrow

Nos. 40, 217

Argued November 3, 1905

Decided December 18, 1905

199 U.S. 581


A bicycle manufacturing company made a contract with an inventor to use, obtain patents for, and exploit the sale of improved coaster brakes, for which applications for patents were then pending, the company to be relieved from payment of royalties in case of adverse action of the patent office. Subsequently the company, having acquired and used other inventions

Page 199 U. S. 582

the inventor brought suit alleging neglect to use diligence in obtaining the patents for, or pushing the sales of, his brakes, and demanding royalties on all coaster brakes used and sold by the company. Held that, although the company might not be able to obtain the patents as expected it could not rescind the contract without returning what it had received under it and it must pay royalties on any devices used by it embodying the invention unless and until final adverse action by the patent office.

That, as the contract was not made on the footing that no such brakes had ever been invented, the inventor could not claim the entire field, and was not entitled to royalties on other brakes used by the company radically different from his both in construction and operation and which could not have been an infringement of any patent contemplated by the contract.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

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