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  • Wilbur-Ellis Co. v. KutherWilbur-Ellis Co. v. Kuther
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Wilbur-Ellis Co. v. Kuther

United States Supreme Court
377 U.S. 422 (1964)


Kuther (plaintiff) obtained a combination patent for a machine that was used to can fish. Kuther authorized the sale of several machines that incorporated his patent and received royalty payments for each of the initial sales. Wilbur-Ellis Company (Wilbur-Ellis) (defendant) purchased four of the fish-canning machines secondhand, although all of the machines were initially sold with Kuther’s authorization. The four machines originally produced one-pound cans of fish, but three of the machines were inoperable, and all of the machines needed substantial cleaning before they could function properly. Wilbur-Ellis had several of the machine components repaired and reconfigured so that the machines would produce five-ounce fish cans instead of the original one-pound cans. Kuther brought a suit for patent infringement, claiming that Wilbur-Ellis’s restoration of the machines infringed upon Kuther’s combination patent. The district court found in favor of Wilbur-Ellis, and the court of appeals affirmed the decision. Wilbur-Ellis appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)

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