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American Well Works Co. v. Layne & Bowler Co.

United States Supreme Court
241 U.S. 257 (1916)


Facts

American Well Works Company (American) (plaintiff) had a patent for a specific pump that it owned, manufactured and sold, which was known as the best in the market. American sued its competitor, Layne & Bowler Company (Layne) (defendant), under federal patent law, alleging Layne falsely and maliciously slandered American’s patent rights to the pump and falsely claimed the pump and its parts were infringements of Layne’s patented pumps. American further alleged that Layne filed frivolous lawsuits against some of American’s customers who were using the pump and threatened lawsuits against others. The district court held that the cause of action arose under federal patent law, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on the question of federal jurisdiction.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (McKenna, J.)

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