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U.S. Supreme Court

Permutit Co. v. Graver Corporation, 284 U.S. 52 (1931)

Permutit Co. v. Graver Corporation

No. 3

Argued October 15, 16, 1931

Decided November 23, 1931

284 U.S. 52


1. A patent which fails to describe in the specification, and to point out particularly and distinctly claim, an invention or discovery, is void. R.S. § 4888. P. 284 U. S. 57.

2. While drawings may be referred to for illustration and may be used as an aid in interpreting the specification or claim, they are of no avail where there is an entire absence of description of the alleged invention or a failure to claim it. P. 284 U. S. 60.

3. Patent No. 1,195,923 (Claims 1 and 5) to Gans, for an apparatus for softening water, is void, for want of disclosure and want of invention. Pp. 284 U. S. 57-60.

This apparatus employs the process of softening water by means of zeolites, which take up calcium and magnesium from hard water, giving up their sodium base, and are "regenerated" when washed by a solution of common salt. The light zeolite particles rest upon a filter-bed of sand and gravel within the container in which the water is treated. When the water, or the regenerating salt solution, is flowed through them from below, they are likely to be

Page 284 U. S. 53

washed away. To prevent this, in the earlier filter, a metal screen was placed close above the bed of zeolite. The patentee was alleged to have discovered that this "locking" of the zeolites interfered with their efficient action, and that it was necessary to have an open space above them in which they might rise, or "boil," and spread out and reform in the bed, and the alleged invention chiefly relied upon in the litigation lay in removal of the close-fitting cover and in placing the screen some distance above the layer; but this was not mentioned in the specification or in either of the claims. A further contention, under Claim 5, that there was invention in placing the means for removing the salt solution at the lowest point of the casing is also rejected. "It does not require the exercise of the inventive faculty to place at the bottom of a receptacle the outlet through which it is to be drained."

43 F.2d 898 affirmed.

Certiorari, 283 U.S. 812, to review a decree affirming a decree of the District Court, 37 F.2d 385, dismissing a suit to enjoin alleged infringement of a patent.

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