An important action at law has just been decided by Judge Blatchford in the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District or New York. The patent in question was that of Peter Foillon. The substance of which was the discovery by a Mr. Gale (the assignor of Mr. Foillon), that if one of two contiguous moving surfaces in steam machinery, such as the face of the pist?in,asit moves in the cylinder, was cut with a series of fine grooves, that steam, when introduced between the two surfaces and into the grooves, would pack itself, although the two surfaces were not in actual contact, obviating.the necessity of springs orotherfrlctional packing. The patent is an old one, but has never before be en brought to final hearing before the courts, though numerous actions have been instituted against, and settled by infringera. The infringement complained of was the use by the defendant, Joseph Schidt, one of the firm, known as the Lion Brewery, of two of the direct-acting steam pumps, madeby the late firm of Campbell & Hardick, now Charles B. Hardick, which it was; alleged infringed upon Mr. Poillon's patent by a substantially similar device in the steam slide valve connecting with the main cylinder. The principal defence was want of novelty In the invention, by reason of the publication in a German work, known asthe"Schauplatz," printed at Weimar in 1847, in which was described and delineated with great partiular-ty a piston said to have been used by a Mr. Cave", having its surface grooved tn precisely the same manner as the Poillon piston, but which was only used by Mr. Cave in connection with air in an air blower. The point in question, therefore, was whether the grooved surfaces, having been before used in connection with air, and for the purposes of developing the property in air of becoming self-packing in such an apparatus there was any patentable novelty in the employment of the same grooved surfaces to develop a similar property in steam. Judge Blatchford has decided that the invention is both novel, useful, and highly meritorious: is not defeated by the " Schauplatz " publication; and that the pumps used by the defendant are an infringement, and that he must respond in damages to the amount of the license tee. The following extracts from the opinion of the learned Judge show the ground of the decision: Blatchford, J....."The invention, as set forth in the specification, is a highlymeritorious and useful one, and one which a court will desire to sustain, it consistent with the principles of law. . . It is a claim for a process ; it is not a claim to the grooved surfaces in themselves. Gale, undoubtedly, was the first to discover that steam could be made to pack itself, and that it could be made to do so, by causing it to act, in the way described, in one or more grooves. . . The grooves, used in an air engine, were indeed old, but it by no means follows because air would work successfully in the apparatus of Cave", that steam could be made to pack itself..... " It by no means detracts from the novelty or patentability of the invention, that in carryingit into practice, the use of grooves like those in Cave"!s apparatus was found beneficial." .... Frederic H. Betts for Plaintiff. S. D. Cozzens, Esq.., for the Defendant.
This article was originally published with the title "Steam Pump Valves"