MR. JUSTICE GRAY, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
The general rules which govern cases of this kind are stated, and the decisions by which those rules have been established are collected, in the recent case of Sanford Fork & Tool Co., Petitioner, 160 U.S. 247, in which this court said: "When a case has been once decided by this court on appeal, and remanded to the Circuit Court, whatever was before this court, and disposed of by its decree, is considered as finally settled. The Circuit Court is bound by the decree as the law of the case; and must carry it into execution, according to the mandate. That court cannot vary it, or examine it for any other purpose than execution; or give any other or further relief; or review it, even for apparent error, upon any matter decided on appeal; or intermeddle with it further than to settle so much as has been remanded. If the Circuit Court mistakes or misconstrues the decree of this court, and does not give full effect to the mandate, its action may be controlled, either upon a new appeal (if involving a sufficient amount) or by a writ of mandamus to execute the mandate of this court. But the Circuit
In that case, the Circuit Court, at a hearing upon exceptions to an answer in equity, had sustained the exceptions, and, the defendant electing to stand by his answer, had entered a final decree for the plaintiff; and this court, upon appeal, ordered that decree to be reversed, and the cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with its opinion. As the record stood, the only matter which was or could be decided by the Circuit Court, or by this court on the appeal, was the sufficiency of the answer; and, neither the Circuit Court, nor this court, upon adjudging the answer to be sufficient, could deprive the plaintiffs of the right to file a replication, putting the cause at issue. It was for that reason, and because no issue of fact had been joined or tried in either court, that this court held that the cause had been left open for a trial of the facts in controversy between the parties, and that the Circuit Court, for the purpose of more fully or clearly presenting those facts, was authorized to allow an amendment of the bill. This court therefore declined to grant a writ of mandamus, but took the precaution of adding, "The case is quite different, in this respect, from those in which the whole case, or all but a subsidiary question of accounting, had been brought to and decided by this court upon the appeal." 160 U.S. 259.
The case now in question comes exactly within the class of cases so referred to and distinguished. It was originally heard in the Circuit Court, not merely upon a question of sufficiency of pleading, but upon the whole merits. That court, at a hearing upon pleadings and proofs, involving the questions of the novelty of the alleged invention, and of its infringement by the defendants, entered a final decree dismissing the bill. Upon the appeal from that decree, both those questions
When the merits of a case have been once decided by this court on appeal, the Circuit Court has no authority, without express leave of this court, to grant a new trial, a rehearing or a review, or to permit new defences on the merits to be introduced by amendment of the answer. Ex parte Story, 12 Pet. 339; Southard v. Russell, 16 How. 547; Ex parte Dubuque & Pacific Railroad, 1 Wall. 69; Stewart v. Salamon, 97 U.S. 361; Gaines v. Rugg, 148 U.S. 228. In this respect, a motion for a new trial or a petition for a rehearing stands upon the same ground as a bill of review, as to which Mr. Justice Nelson, speaking for this court, in Southard v. Russell, above cited, said: "Nor will a bill of review lie in the case of newly discovered evidence after the publication, or decree below, where a decision has taken place on an appeal, unless the right is reserved in the decree of the appellate court, or permission be given on an application to that court directly for the purpose. This appears to be the practice of the Court of Chancery and House of Lords, in England; and we think it founded in principles essential to the proper administration of the law, and to a reasonable termination of litigation
The decree entered by the Circuit Court, presently after receiving the mandate, setting aside its former decree, and adjudging that the letters patent were valid and had been infringed, referring the case to a master for an account of profits, and awarding a perpetual injunction, was, as it purported to be, in conformity with the mandate of this court. But the subsequent orders of the Circuit Court, entertaining and granting the petition for a rehearing, without previous leave obtained from this court for the filing of such a petition, were irregular and unauthorized, based upon a misunderstanding of the mandate, and in practical, though unintentional, disobedience of the command thereof that further proceedings be had in conformity with the opinion of this court. Upon the record as it stands, a clear case is shown for issuing a writ of mandamus to set aside those orders, and to execute the mandate according to what appears to this court to be its manifest meaning and effect.
Upon the question whether an application for leave to file a petition for a rehearing in the Circuit Court could and should be entertained by this court, at the present stage of the case, no opinion is expressed, because no such application has been made.
Unless such an application shall be made to this court within twenty days, and shall upon consideration be granted by this court,
Writ of mandamus issue as prayed for.