Washburn Moen Manufacturing Company v. Beat 'Em All Barbed-Wire Company

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

143 U.S. 275

Washburn Moen Manufacturing Company  v.  Beat 'Em All Barbed-Wire Company


This was a bill in equity for the infringement of letters patent No. 157,124, issued to Joseph F. Glidden, November 24, 1874, for an 'improvement in wire fences.' In his specification the patentee stated that 'this invention has relation to means for preventing cattle from breaking through wire fences; and it consists in combining, with the twisted fence-wires, a short transverse wire, coiled or bent at its central portion about one of the wire strands of the twist, with its free ends projecting in opposite directions, the other wire strand serving to bind the spur-wire firmly to its place, and in position, with its spur-ends perpendicular to the direction of the fence-wire; lateral movement, as well as vibration, being prevented. It also consists in the construction and noval arrangement, in connection with such a twisted fence-wire and its spurwires, connected and arranged as above described, of a twisting key or head-piece passing through the fence-post, carrying the ends of the fence-wires, and serving, when the spurs become loose, to tighten the twist of the wires, and thus render them rigid and firm in position.'

His claim was for 'a twisted fence-wire having the transverse spur-wire, D, bent at its middle portion about one of the wire strauds, a, of said fence-wire, and clamped in position and place by the other wire strand, z, twisted upon its fellow, substantially as specified.' The following drawings accompanied the specification:

The bill also relied upon certain decrees obtained in other districts against other defendants, which were claimed to have established the validity of the patent. The answer denied that, in view of the state of the art at the time this patent was issued, there was any invention in the device described, and averred that the decrees set forth in the bill were collusively and fraudulently obtained, and also set forth an opinion of the circuit court of the United States for the northern district of Illinois to the effect that the patent was void for want of novelty. Manufacturing Co. v. Haish, 10 Biss. 65, 4 Fed. Rep. 900.

Mr. Justice FIELD dissenting. 33 Fed. Rep. 261, reversed.


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).