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Russell v. Place

United States Supreme Court
94 U.S. (4 Otto) 606 (1876)


Facts

Nathan Russell (plaintiff) originally filed for a patent on two preparations of leather. One process involved treatment of the leather with “fat liquor” and another involved a process of treating bark tanned lamb or sheepskin with a certain compound. The initial patent was defective, because it did not adequately describe the invention. Russell corrected the description, and the patent was reissued. Russell sued Isaac Place et al. (Place) (defendants), alleging that Place was manufacturing, using, and selling the invention without a license. Russell asked for damages and an injunction. Place admitted using the process, but argued that (1) the process had been used by the public for over two years before Russell applied for a patent and (2) the reissued patent was not for the same invention. Judgment was entered for Russell. Russell brought another suit for patent infringement, and Place again sought to defend on the grounds that the patent was invalid for lack of novelty and there was a difference between the invention and the reissued patent. Russell argued that his favorable judgment in the previous suit estopped Place from raising the defenses previously asserted or any invalidity defense that could have been asserted. The record in that proceeding did not indicate which of the two preparations in the plaintiff’s patent that Place had infringed. The lower court ruled in favor of Place. Russell appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Field, J.)

Dissent (Clifford, J.)

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