MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is an ordinary patent case. There was no reason for granting the application for a writ of certiorari except upon the ground that the Circuit Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and the Ninth Circuits had differed in respect to the validity and scope of the patent and that uniformity required a decision from this Court. The arguments and the briefs have aroused further inquiry in the minds of the Court as to whether there was in fact any conflict between the decisions of the two circuit courts of appeals, and whether the writ of certiorari was not improvidently granted.
The Layne patent, now owned by the Layne & Bowler Corporation, the petitioner, was for apparatus for drawing water from deep wells, driven or artesian, and especially for adjusting a pump in them. In such wells, it is essential that the adjustment, the alignment and the lubrication should be effected from the top because the bore of the well is so small that the operator can not descend to the pump. The Layne patent covered many
In practice, Layne did not use packing and bushing but relied on a long sleeve to keep water and sand out of the
The three claims sued on in this case were Nos. 9, 13 and 20, as follows:
9. In a well mechanism, the combination with a pump casing of a rotary pump of a jointed pump shaft and a closed casing surrounding the pump shaft from the pump to the top of the well.
13. The combination with a pump and its actuating shaft of a sectional casing therefor, provided at each end of each section with a fixed block with bearings for the shaft, the casing being closed at the top and provided with an air vent.
20. The combination of a well casing, a rotary pump therein, and a line shaft for the pump entirely closed off from the water in the well.
In 1912, in an infringement suit the validity of this patent and of claim No. 13 was considered by the Circuit Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit and sustained. Infringement by defendant of that claim was found and a decree for damages entered. El Campo Machine Co. v. Layne, 195 Fed. 83. The decision is a per curiam and there is no discussion and no description of the defendant's device in the report.
In 1914, the same Circuit Court of Appeals had to consider the patent again in Van Ness v. Layne, 213 Fed. 804. The claims relied on were the 4th, the 9th, the 13th and the 20th. The 4th was found not to be infringed, and as we are not concerned with it here, we can disregard it. The court found that Van Ness, the alleged infringer, did not use an air vent to force his oil out of the casing as we are informed by this opinion the infringer El Campo had done in the previous case. So it was held that Van Ness did not infringe claim No. 13. The court held that the jointed feature of the shaft made part of claim 9 added nothing to the novelty or patentability of
In Getty v. Lane, 262 Fed. 141, the same court considered the patent a third time. In its opinion, it said (p. 143):
"The Layne patent too nearly resembles the Crannell patent to be called a pioneer patent, though it did accomplish a revolution in the well-drilling industry. Its merit was in adapting the Crannell type of pump to a narrow and deep well hole, in a way that has been held by us to exhibit novelty. While the substitution of mere mechanical equivalents for the means adopted by Layne could not avoid infringement of his patent, it is also true that the range of equivalents cannot be enlarged upon the idea that his patent was a pioneer one in the pump art. Its advance over Crannell prevented Crannell from being considered by us an anticipation, and was enough to show novelty, but it stops there. The Layne patent must rest, not upon the idea of closure, which would not be patentable apart from the method by which it was accomplished, but upon the means of its accomplishment, as disclosed by the specifications of his patent."
The Circuit Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit in this case instead of differing from that of the Fifth Circuit, seems, on a careful examination of the opinions and the infringing devices under consideration in the different cases, to have followed the opinions in the Fifth Circuit. It sustained the validity of the 9th, 13th and 20th claims. It did not greatly consider the 13th claim because it was as clearly not infringed by the respondent here, as it was not infringed by the Van Ness device in the Fifth Circuit case. The Ninth Circuit Court held as the Fifth Circuit Court had held in the Getty Case, that the scope of the Layne patent claims was much restricted by the prior art and that a circulatory system of lubrication was not the same as a closed stagnant system. The entirely closed casing as an element of the 20th claim furnishing a stagnant lubrication did not, therefore, find its equivalent in the casing of the respondent which was open at the bottom to permit a circulatory lubrication.
It is manifest from this review of the conclusions in the two circuits as to the validity of the Layne patent and the proper construction to be put upon the 9th, 13th and 20th claims, that they were really in harmony and not in conflict and that there was no ground for our allowing the writ of certiorari to add to an already burdened
Writ of certiorari dismissed.