Charles W. S. Heaton and William H. Webb, recently brought suit, in the United States Circuit Court, against George W. Quintard, and others of this city, for an infringement of Heaton's patent, of April 14, 1863, for a system of defensive armor for marine and land batteries. Such system is described in the specification of the patent as consisting of iron armor plates, laid in the usual way against the longitudinal or outer timbers of a vessel, such timbers being such as to form a sufficient backing to rigidly support the armor plates, and of an outer layer (Iff timber covering the armor plates, and only bolted on sufficiently to hold it to its place, and of a plate or thin sheath on the outer surface oftlJe timber. The Government ordered the contractors, Quintard & Co., to apply substantially this arrangement of armor to the Onondaga, whereupon the owners of the patent brought suit to recoverdamages. Judge Blatchford dismissed the bill on the ground that the defendants were acting under the order of the Government in what they did, and were but agents of the Government. In the course of the proceedings before Judge Blatchford, it appeared that the defendants subsequently bought back the vessel from the Government, and it remains now to,be determined how far such after purchase protected them in the use of the Heaton armor plate. If the Government has a reserved right to make and use a patented iuveution, then it is clear that the defendants had such right also. That question was not, however, involved in this suit, which was commenced before the later purchase took place. The Judge cites an English case, decided in 1865 (which, by the way, also arose out of a patent for armoring' vessels), in which it was held that the Crown had the right to use any article, notwithstanding its being patented. It is quite clear, that if the Government is not called upon to deal with a patentee, as having a sole right to his invention, such patents as this will be, in connection with Government work, of no advantage to the inventor. The idea of such an assumption onthe part of our Government as against the rights of a patentee, is simple monstrous. In time of war the Government possesses the right to seize any man's property, on the plea of public safety, by paying for it ; but in times of peace no such right exists, and we do not believe that our federal courts will sanction any such outrage of the rights of a patentee.
This article was originally published with the title "The Rights of the Government and Patentees"