Publication: Electrical World
New York, NY, United States
Ohio Brass Gets the Final Decision in Suspension-Insulator Case
WHILE affirming the decision of the United States District Court of New Jersey in the suit brought by the General Electric Company against the Ohio Brass Company for contributory infringement of the Buck-Hewlett patent, No. 2,925,561 [sic] 925,561, for a system of suspension of high-tension lines, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals has based its finding for the defendant on an entirely different ground. The lower court in its decision, in November, 1920, refused to consider the validity of the patent, holding that the evidence showed no infringement. The higher court, however, found the patent to be invalid and that consequently there could be no infringement.
The case has been in the courts for the past eleven years, and all told about 6,000 pages of testimony have been taken. Witnesses came from all over North and South America. The record is virtually a complete history of suspension insulator practice prior to 1906, when the patent was applied for.
The patent involved a freely suspended system operating at from 60,000 volts to 100,000 volts, periodically dead-ended to cross-arms using a special type of disk insulator and a freely suspended jumper. The Hewlett insulator is the subject of another patent, and infringement thereof was not claimed, but merely of the system of suspension.
The Court of Appeals held that the invention in suit was anticipated by a line erected in 1900 in Indianapolis. The court further held that an insulator of a specific type and an insulator of a more general type in combination with expedients appropriated for the art are not inventions, first because they are not a combination that, in the patent sense, is new, and second because otherwise the common expedients of the art, such as poles and conductors, would be foreclosed to the industry on systems falling within the claims of the patent.
"As drawn," says the court, "the patent to Buck and Hewlett grants them not merely a monopoly of a system of electrical transmission, but, in effect, expands the Hewlett patent for an insulator and permits it to embrace and monopolize the named expedients of the art, thereby bringing about infringement whenever these expedients are used in combination with insulators of others, which, though not infringing the Hewlett insulator, fall within its broad description. The Buck and Hewlett patent for a system, built around the Hewlett insulator pretty nearly, if not entirely, covers the whole art, present and prospective, of insulators in series flexibly connected, whether the insulating members be disks, globes or other shapes."