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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

NARA: Equity Case Files 1855-1863 continued

by Martha Wallace and Cath Trindle

Continuing on with the patent infringement cases in this record set, we find....

Clark Jacobs of Brooklyn, NY invented an improvement in rice hullers and received US Patent #9136 on 20 Jul 1852. Jacobs assigned the rights to John Vanderbilt, Jr. in 1854 and Vanderbilit in turn assigned the California rights to Abram Waite and William Ward Battles in 1856. They assigned a moiety to Henry Baker.

Waite, Battles and Baker brought suit against George A Dunn and Michael Garvey for using a machine without a license to do so in California.  Dunn and Garvey answered that they had bought the machine with the understanding that it was to be used in California, that in fact it was not a new invention so shouldn't have a patent and that they were not using the leather disc which was integral to the new patent.  The defendants' answer goes on explaining the difference between hulling and polishing rice. They did not prevail. On 1 Dec 1858 judgement was entered for the complainants.  The file includes original drawings.


Isaac Babbitt invented an improvement in making boxes for axles and gudgeons and US Patent 1252 in 1839.  It was amended in 1840 and extended a number of times. The last extension in 1853 put it under patent until 1860.  Edward T Steen and George V Swan paid $3000 for the rights in California and Oregon.  Paperwork shows A B Ely as a local assignee of the patent rights.

On 18 Oct 1856 they filed suit against E B Goddard, et al for making the boxes without a license. The defendant's answer stated that the design of the boxes they were making, if it was the same, was in wide use throughout the area and therefore the patent should not apply.

The case was dismissed due to lack of prosecution on 31 Jan 1860. The complainant was to pay $44.20 in costs.




It seems the patent office could take a while to issue a patent.  In the case of the Excelsior Crusher suit was brought by William Banham on 30 Aug 1859 against John Nye, JB Johnson, Ira P Rankin, and J Hanscom for making machines based on a design by William Banham for a new way to crush, pulverise and amalgamate gold from quartz.  Banham had filed a caveat with the patent office on 13 Jul 1857.  He did not receive US Patent 26555 until 27 Dec 1859.  Disposition of the case was not included in available documents.
Samuel F. Morse was first issued a patent for the telegraph in 1840.  In 1846 it was reissued as US Patent RE 79 and was good for 14 years through 1860.  In 1838 Morse sold 1/4 of his interest to Francis O J Smith, who in turn sold half (1/8 of the total) to Alfred Vail.  In 1859 the three men began a series of suits against California companies for infringing on their patent rights and refusing to pay a license fee or desist from using the lines.
Incomplete clipping found in file.
The Los Angles Herald dates
from 1880. It seems likely this is from the
New York Herald, however there were 928
Heralds in the 1859-60 time frame so....

Among the companies sues were the Alta California Telegraph Company which had laid line from San Francisco to Sacramento and the Northern California Telegraph Company whose lines ran from Sacramento through various cities (including Marysville) and villages to as far away as Yreka.

A complication occurred when Alfred Vail passed away and the suits were dismissed without prejudice.  In 1860 suits against the two companies were refiled this time with the interest of Vail having been distributed to George T Cobb and Theodore Little. An additional suit was filed against the Placerville and St Joseph Overland Telegraph Co. whose lines ran from Placerville to Carson City.

All three cases ended in injunctions being issued to cease and desist. 

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