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U.S. Supreme Court

Keystone Driller Co. v. General Excavator Co., 290 U.S. 240 (1933)

Keystone Driller Co. v. General Excavator Co.

Nos. 34 and 35

Argued October 19, 1933

Decided December 4, 1933*

290 U.S. 240


1. He who comes into equity must come with clean hands. P. 290 U. S. 244.

2. This maxim applies only when some unconscionable act of the plaintiff has immediate and necessary relation to the equity he seeks in the litigation. P. 290 U. S. 245.

Page 290 U. S. 241

3. In applying the maxim, the courts of equity are not bound by formula or restrained by any limitation that tends to trammel the free and just exercise of discretion. P. 290 U. S. 245.

4. Plaintiff in suits on several patents sought equitable relief, partly on the basis of a decree in another case which sustained one of the patents and in the obtaining of which the plaintiff, through a corrupt bargain, had suppressed evidence damaging to that patent. The several devices covered by this and the other patents were important, if not essential, parts of the same machine. Held that the relations of the patents and the use made of the prior decree sustaining one of them brought the pending case within the doctrine that he who comes into equity must come with clean hands, and that the case were properly dismissed on that ground as to all of the patents. Pp. 290 U. S. 243, 290 U. S. 246.

62 F.2d 48, 64 id. 39, affirmed.

Certiorari, 289 U.S. 721, to review decrees reversing the District Court and directing that the suits be dismissed without prejudice. These were two infringement suits, one involving four and the other one five patents. The District Court had held three of the patents valid and awarded injunctions and accountings. See also 44 F.2d 283, 63 id. 996.

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