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U.S. Supreme Court

Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. v. Walker, 329 U.S. 1 (1946)

Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. v. Walker

No. 24

Reargued October 23, 24, 1946

Decided November 18, 1946

329 U.S. 1


1. Walker Patent No. 2,156,519 for an improvement over a past patent designed to measure the distance from the top of an oil well to the fluid surface of the oil, held invalid for failure of the claims to make the "full, clear, concise, and exact" description of the alleged invention required by R.S. § 4888, 35 U.S.C. § 33. Pp. 329 U. S. 11-14.

2. A claim which describes the most crucial element in a "new" combination in terms of what it will do, rather than in terms of its own physical characteristics or its arrangement in the new combination, is invalid as a violation of R.S. § 4888. Holland Furniture Co. v. Perkins Glue Co., 277 U. S. 245; General Electric Co. v. Wabash Appliance Corp., 304 U. S. 364. Pp. 329 U. S. 8-9.

3. As used in R.S. § 4888, the word "machine" includes a combination of old elements. P. 329 U. S. 9.

4. The requirement of R.S. § 4888 for a "full, clear, concise, and exact" description in claims applies to a combination of old devices. Pp. 329 U. S. 9-11.

5. Under R.S. § 4888, a patentee cannot obtain greater coverage by failing accurately to describe his invention than by describing it as the statute commands. P. 329 U. S. 13.

146 F.2d 817 reversed.

Page 329 U. S. 2

Respondent sued petitioner for infringement of Walker Patent No. 2, 156,519. The District Court held the claims in issue valid and infringed by petitioner. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed, 146 F.2d 817, and denied a petition for rehearing. 149 F.2d 896. This Court granted certiorari. 326 U.S. 705. The case was affirmed by an evenly divided Court. 326 U.S. 696. A petition for rehearing was granted, and the case was restored to the docket for reargument before a full bench. 327 U.S. 812. Reversed, p. 329 U. S. 14.

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