INTERSTATE RUBBER PROD. CORP. v. RADIATOR SPECIALTY CO.No. 6783.
214 F.2d 546 (1954)
INTERSTATE RUBBER PRODUCTS CORP. et al.
RADIATOR SPECIALTY CO., Inc. et al.
RADIATOR SPECIALTY CO., Inc. et al.
United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.
Argued June 4, 1954.
Decided July 26, 1954.
Walter P. Huntley, Los Angeles, Cal. (Edward B. Beale and George R. Jones, Washington, D. C., on the brief), for appellants. A. Yates Dowell and A. Yates Dowell, Jr., Washington, D. C. (Maurice A. Weinstein, Charlotte, N. C., on the brief), for appellees.
Before PARKER, Chief Judge, and SOPER and DOBIE, Circuit Judges.
SOPER, Circuit Judge.
This case of patent infringement relates to United States Patent No. 2,333,273 issued to Charles D. Scanlon on November 2, 1943 upon an application filed February 17, 1941. The patent pertains to a safety marker which comprises a hollow conical body, particularly the kind of marker used on highways to indicate wet paint, repairs, &c. Claim 1 of the patent describes the product in these words:
In appearance the marker in place resembles a megaphone about two feet in length, set on end. In practice it is made of rubberized sheet material, and the specifications suggest that for reasons of economy, strips of rubberized fabric, cut from old automobile tires, may be used in the manufacture, although new material may be employed. The inventor's purpose was to replace the wooden tripods or barriers, theretofore customarily used to indicate dangerous spots or newly painted lines on the highway, which were not easily seen, were readily broken or worn out, and presented some hazard to passing automobiles. The advantages of the patented article are manifest; it is readily visible, causes no damages to an automobile which strikes it, returns to its original position when struck a glancing blow, is easily nested or stacked so as to require a minimum storage space, and may be placed in position or removed by an operator seated in a moving vehicle, and it will stand considerable abuse.
The patented marker has also been found useful for shifting the "center line" of much used highways in the City of Los Angeles during peak traffic hours so as to provide an additional lane in the direction of the heavy flow of traffic which runs in one direction during the morning rush and in the opposite direction in the afternoon. For this purpose the easily handled rubber marker has been found much more desirable than the heavy iron pedestals formerly employed.
As the result of these several advantages the patented marker has had considerable commercial success since production began in 1947, and has been used throughout the United States, as well as in some foreign countries. These merits were quickly recognized by I. D. Blumenthal, the president of the Radiator Specialty Company, Inc., and an appellee herein, who sought unsuccessfully to secure a license under the patent, and then, being advised that the patent did not involve invention, placed a competing device on the market which is so similar to the plaintiffs' as to remove all doubt of infringement, if validity is shown. Hence we need consider only the latter question.
We are in accord with the conclusion of the District Judge,
The hollow conical shape has of course long been employed in numberless objects in common use, for example, megaphones, flower pots, dunce caps, &c. which may be nested one within the other; and the prior art suggested the use of other desirable features of the
It is quite impossible to define patentability except in the most general terms. It cannot be denied merely on the ground of the simplicity of a discovery, as appears in the classic example of the Eibel patent, Eibel Process Co. v. Minnesota Ontario Paper Co.,
A similar lack of invention was found by the Supreme Court in Great A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Equipment Corp.,
The rule applied by the majority of the Supreme Court in this case was not changed by the revision of the patent statute by Congress in 1952. Section 103 thereof, 35 U.S.C. § 103, provides:
PARKER, Chief Judge (dissenting).
I think that the patent sued on involves patentable novelty and should be held valid. The patentee has done more than merely substitute materials in the manufacture of a megaphone or dunce cap. He has devised a traffic marker of great utility, which has met a real need and which has solved a problem which other attempts had failed to solve. The fact that it is a combination of old elements does not detract from its patentability, for these have been brought together in the production of a new and useful result, viz., a traffic marker which, because of the resiliency of the materials of which it is made and the shape which is given it, can be used quickly, successfully and safely as a marker for the guidance of traffic in the highways of the country. None of the devices shown in the prior art were successful or could be successful in solving the problem thus presented. In addition to the presumption of validity resulting from the issuance of the patent by the Patent Office, there is the presumption arising from the fact that the device achieved immediate commercial success as soon as materials were available for its manufacture after the war and was widely used throughout the country. The president of the infringing company was so impressed with it that he sought to buy an interest in the patent or obtain sales rights thereunder and, when unsuccessful in this, made a minor change in the shape of the base of the device in an evident attempt to avoid infringement, obtained a Canadian patent on the change thus made and applied for a patent thereon in the United States.
Very much in point here is the decision of this court in Watson v. Heil, 4 cir.,
The device of the patent seems obvious, now that the inventor has produced it, but as said by Mr. Justice McKenna in the oft-quoted passage from Diamond Rubber Co. v. Consolidated Tire Co.,
The invention filled a want in the industry and entered into immediate use when placed on the market by the plaintiff. Temco Electric Motor Co. v. Apco
I would sustain the validity of the patent.
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