McClain v. Ortmayer

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

141 U.S. 419

McClain  v.  Ortmayer

Bill in equity by Edward L. McClain against Andrew Ortmayer and others. The bill was dismissed, and plaintiff appeals.

The facts of the case fully appear in the following statement by Mr. Justice BROWN: This was a bill in equity for the infringement of two letters patent granted to appellant, McClain, viz., patent No. 259,700, issued June 20, 1882, for a 'pad for horse-collars,' and patent No. 267,011, issued November 7, 1882, for an improvement upon the same. Another patent, numbered 298,626, issued May 13, 1884, to J. Scherling for a 'pad fastening,' and assigned to the appellant, was originally included in the suit, but was abandoned upon the argument in this court.

In the specification of the first patent, No. 259,700, the patentee stated that his invention related 'to that class of horse-collar pads which are placed between the collar and the horse's shoulders, and are adjustably attached to the collar, and known as 'sweat-pads," the object of the invention being 'to produce a sweat-pad for a horse-collar which can be easily and readily attached to or taken from the collar, and which can be fitted to collars varying in size.'

He further stated that the pad proper was 'made so as to form an intermediate cushion between the collar and the horse's shoulders, and of a size such as to entirely isolate the collar from all portions of the horse's shoulders. * * * The sweat-pad, as just described, is not claimed as a new invention. My improvements consist in the addition of springs, s, s, and choke-strap billet-loop, b. The top ends of the pads or bodies are adjacent to the withers of the neck, and are provided with elastic springs,-steel,-which are so made as to be capable of being opened and then clasped around the body of the sides of the collar. Thus one end of a spring is so curved as to partly encircle the fore wale or small roll of the collar, and to hug it so closely as to keep out of the way of the hame, and the other end is so curved as to similarly partly encircle and hug the after wale or body side of the collar, and yet not interfere with the hame. Such construction will enable the pad to be easily and readily attached at its top ends to the top ends of the collar, and also will permit of attachment at variable positions along the sides of the collar, so that it can be easily fitted to collars of different sizes.'

His claim was:

'(1) As attachments to a sweat or other horse-collar pad, the elastic springs, s, s, substantially as described, and for the purposes set forth.'

There was a second claim, which, however, became immaterial.

Patent No. 267,011 was for an improvement upon the prior patent, and consisted in discarding that portion of the spring of such patent as embraced the after roll of a collar, and in using the fore roll only. In this connection the patentee stated 'that said spring, S, differs materially from the spring in my previous patent. First, this spring has but one curved portion, intended for the fore roll only of the collar, instead of a curved portion for the fore roll and one for the back roll. The single-roll spring is applicable where the two-roll spring could not be used, and is preferable and cheaper even where the latter can be used. * * * It is therefore seen that the two-roll springs are much more cumbersome to use than single-roll springs, while, when the curves of the two-roll springs are repeatedly and much bent, they lose their elasticity, and consequently their usefulness. * * * A great feature possessed by pads having the single curved springs is that they can be easily and speedily removed from or attached to a collar, and therefore can be separated from the collar when it is removed from a horse's neck. * * * As an article of manufacture the single-roll spring can be made and attached to a pad at much less expense than a two-roll spring. First, it does not require so much material; second, it is easier to form, and may not require tempering, as the tempered steel in the market may answer where it has been found that such steel will not do for a two-roll spring; third, it is more convenient to attach by riveting by hand or by machinery, for riveting machinery now in use can be used on a single-roll spring, but not on a two-roll one, since the curved ends of the latter project over the rivets.'

The claims of this patent were:

'(1) As an attachment to a horse-collar pad or other harness pad, and as a means of adjustably attaching a pad to a horse-collar or other part of harness, the elastic single roll or single curved spring, S, constructed, arranged, attached, and operating substantially in the manner shown or described, and for or with the purposes set forth.

'(2) The combination, with a horse-collar pad, of elastic single roll or single curve spring, S, substantially in the manner shown or described, and for the purposes set forth.'

The answer of defendants denied that the invention relied upon was no rel, or that the alleged inventors were the first or original inventors thereof, and also denied that the said improvements contained any invention, when compared with the prior art. To the charge of infringement the defendants answered as follows: 'These defendants, on their own understanding of the scope and meaning of said several letters patent, and on the advice of counsel in relation thereto, deny that they have ever in any way infringed upon the same, or upon any of them, or upon any claim thereof.'

Plaintiff's bill was dismissed by the circuit court upon the ground that the first patent was not infringed, and that the second patent, in view of the first, and of the other devices offered in evidence, was void for want of novelty. The opinion of the court is reported in 33 Fed. Rep. 284.

James Moore and Edmund Wetmore, for appellant.

E. Banning and T. A. Banning, for appellee.

Mr. Justice BROWN, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).