Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 18,800+ case briefs...

Gayler v. Wilder

United States Supreme Court
51 U.S. (10 How.) 477 (1850)


Between 1829 and 1832, James Conner built and used a fireproof safe to protect papers from fire. Conner used the safe until 1838, when the safe passed into another person’s possession. The identities of all subsequent possessors were unclear, and it was unknown whether subsequent possessors knew of or used the safe’s fireproof capabilities. In 1843, Daniel Fitzgerald invented and secured a patent for a fireproof safe that was likely substantially similar to Conner’s. Fitzgerald’s patent was assigned to Wilder (plaintiff). Wilder sued Gayler and Brown (defendants), alleging infringement of the safe patent. Gayler and Brown contended that the patent was invalid because Fitzgerald was not the original and first inventor of the fireproof safe. The court instructed the jury that Fitzgerald could be considered the original inventor, and his patent therefore valid, if Conner had used the safe only for his own purposes and did not make the discovery public, and if Conner’s safe design had been forgotten or abandoned by anyone who knew of it.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Taney, C.J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 498,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 498,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 18,800 briefs, keyed to 985 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial