« ForrigeFortsett »
at the time, the release was given in good faith, and meant what it said without equivocation or reserves. It is unnecessary to consider whether the Circuit Court of Appeals were successful in distinguishing Sterling v. Chapin, 185 N. Y. 395, from the present case, on the assumption that the parties attempted to qualify the release. More need not be said to show that the decree should be affirmed. Decree affirmed.
NATIONAL BRAKE & ELECTRIC COMPANY v. CHRISTENSEN ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.
No. 111. Argued December 10, 1920.—Decided January 3, 1921.
1. When a patent for an invention has been sustained by the Circuit Court of Appeals and the case has been remanded to the District Court for an accounting, a party claiming that a subsequent decree in another circuit should be given effect as res judicata against the patent should apply by petition to the Circuit Court of Appeals for leave to file a bill in the District Court in the nature of a bill of review, setting up the new matter as a bar to further proceedings. P. 429.
2. Such applications are addressed to the sound discretion of the appellate tribunal, and should be decided upon consideration of the materiality of the new matter and diligence in its presentation. P. 430.
3. Leave to file such a bill of review may be granted after the judgment of the appellate tribunal and after the going down of its mandate at the close of the term at which judgment was rendered. P. 431. 4. Held, that an application made to the Circuit Court of Appeals
in this case was an application of that character, and not an application to have the other decree pronounced res judicata by that court. P. 432.
5. The decision of the Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting such an
Opinion of the Court.
application is reviewable in this court by certiorari, not by appeal, since the application is ancillary to the original jurisdiction over the case, as one arising under the patent laws. P. 432. 258 Fed. Rep. 880, reversed.
THE case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. John S. Miller, with whom Mr. Edward Osgood Brown, Mr. Paul Synnestvedt and Mr. Charles A. Brown were on the briefs, for petitioner, contended, inter alia, that the decree in Pennsylvania was the first final one, the Wisconsin decree being merely interlocutory, and that it was the duty of the Circuit Court of Appeals in the latter case to give effect to the Pennsylvania decree, by recalling its mandate, setting aside its affirming order and directing the District Court to vacate its own former decree and enter one adjudging the patent invalid. They claimed that the case was one with Hart Steel Co. v. Railroad Supply Co., 244 U. S. 294.
Mr. Joseph B. Cotton and Mr. Louis Quarles, with whom Mr. William R. Rummler and Mr. Willet M. Spooner were on the brief, for respondents, contended that the Wisconsin decrees were final and settled the law of the case; that, for various reasons, the rulings in Pennsylvania were not res judicata, and that there was no application for the Hart Steel Co. Case, in which the decree set up as res judicata was presented to the Circuit Court of Appeals in a case pending before and as yet undecided by it. A number of other propositions were discussed in both arguments.
Mr. Charles Neave and Mr. Clarence D. Kerr, by leave of court, filed a brief as amici curiæ.
MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.
Suit was brought by Christensen and the Allis-Chalmers Company in the District Court of the United States for
Opinion of the Court.
the Eastern District of Wisconsin against the National Brake & Electric Company for infringement of patent to Christensen No. 635,280 for improvement in a combined pump and motor. After answer, the petition was amended so as to set up that Christensen before the issue of the patent No. 635,280 had obtained a patent for the same invention under No. 621,324, and that because of defects the same had been returned to the Commissioner of Patents, and the new letters issued for the same invention, and that the Commissioner of Patents cancelled letters patent No. 621,324 and issued letters patent No. 635,280 for the full term of 17 years from October 17, 1899.
In the amended bill it was prayed that the patent monopoly to Christensen be adjudged to be valid for 17 years from March 21, 1899, the date of the first patent, and the second letters patent be held by the court to be evidence of the grant for the term of 17 years from that date. Answer was filed, testimony taken, and a decree was rendered in favor of Christensen, the District Court holding that whether the patent monopoly were evidenced by one or the other or both of the two letters patent, was immaterial. Appeal was taken to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where the decree of the District Court was affirmed (229 Fed. Rep. 564), and mandate was duly issued to the District Court. After a petition for rehearing was denied, an application was made to this court for a writ of certiorari, which was denied February 21, 1916. 241 U. S. 659. On the remand to the District Court a master was appointed and an accounting begun.
On March 11, 1916, Christensen and the Allis-Chalmers Company filed a bill of complaint against the Westinghouse Traction Brake Company in the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Issues were made up, and evidence was taken. We do not deem it necessary for present purposes to
Opinion of the Court.
254 U. S.
recite the history of the litigation in the proceedings in Pennsylvania. Thereafter, the Brake & Electric Company made application in the District Court in Wisconsin asking to have the benefit of the decree in Pennsylvania dismissing the bill by setting up that decree as res judicata. The District Court denied the petition. Afterwards, on August 19, 1918, the Brake & Electric Company presented and filed a motion and petition upon which the Circuit Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, rendered the decree which is now the subject of review.
The petition alleges that the decree in the Pennsylvania suit was one presenting the same issues as were presented and considered in the Wisconsin suit; that the plaintiffs were the same, and the defendants were in privity; that in the Pennsylvania suit it was adjudged, in accordance with the mandate issued by direction of the Circuit Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit that patent No. 635,280 was issued without warrant, and that the bill of complaint as to that patent should accordingly be dismissed; that upon further proceedings had in the Court of Appeals in the Third Circuit and the District Court in Pennsylvania as to patent No. 621,324 the bill upon that patent was dismissed for want of prosecution. A transcript of the proceedings in the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Pennsylvania was presented, and petitioner stated that it was advised that the District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin had no power or authority without the assent of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to entertain the motion or application to set aside or modify the former decree of such District Court affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals, but that the Circuit Court of Appeals had such jurisdiction and power, and that because of the final adjudication in the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania the suit in the District Court of the Eastern District of Wisconsin should be dismissed on the
motion of the petitioner. The petition recited the proceedings in the District Court of Wisconsin, and the fact that that court was proceeding to take an accounting under the former decree. The prayer of the petition was that the Circuit Court of Appeals take jurisdiction of the petition, and inquire into and determine the status of the case, and the force and effect of the final judgment of the District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania, and hold the same to be a final adjudication, and that the petitioner was entitled to a final decree in the suit in Wisconsin dismissing the same for want of equity; that the District Court be directed to proceed and act accordingly; and the court was asked to issue such orders in the premises, and such writ or writs of certiorari or otherwise as might be necessary or proper, and such further and different orders, directions, writs or relief as should seem proper or necessary.
The Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit refused to grant any relief upon the petition, holding that the decree of the Wisconsin Court was final in its character, notwithstanding it was interlocutory in form, and that the decree in the Third Circuit could not be set up as res judicata between the parties. 258 Fed. Rep. 880. From that decree the writ of certiorari brings the case to this court.
It thus appears that in a suit upon a patent, and one subsequently issued alleged to be for the same invention, Christensen had obtained a decree in the Wisconsin District Court sustaining the right to a patent monopoly and an accounting. From this decree appeal had been taken to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where the decree was affirmed, and the cause remanded to the District Court, where the accounting was in progress. Subsequently Christensen brought the suit in Pennsylvania upon the patent rights in controversy which resulted in a decree which, it is contended,