Steinberger wins disc-strain insulator suit

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Electrical Review and Western Electrician

Chicago, IL, United States
vol. 62, no. 16, p. 828, col. 1-3

Steinberger Wins Decision in DiskStrain-Insulator Suit.


The Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, Associate Justice Charles H. Robb, handed down an opinion on April 7 affirming the decision of the patent office that Louis Steinberger is the original inventor ol a disk strain insulator comprising suspension members, a mass of insulating material partially enveloping the same, this mass being provided centrally with a disk which is provided with flanges or annular collars extending in opposite directions.

This disk strain insulator has been the subject of some very interesting litigation.

In 1902, Mr. Steinberger, who is president and general manager of the Electrose Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, N. Y., commenced sending to the Niagara Falls Power Company insulating material known in the art as "electrose," and various devices made therefrom for the purpose of testing so as to demonstrate dielectric qualities, strength, etc. Steinberger has testified that on September 28, 1905, he was requested by H. W. Buck, who was connected with the power company, to prepare an experimental insulator "to be made up of a disk of electrose with an electrose hub welded to the center of the disk on either side." A sketch accompanied this letter. Steinberger testified that on the next day he replied to Buck to the effect that he would be glad to construct this insulator, advising Buck that they "could construct the die so as to mold the disk and hubs integrally and also mold the two eye-bolts into the hubs." Later, on October 7, 1905, Steinberger wrote Buck in considerable detail concerning the insulator to be made and enclosed sketches. These sketches, he testified, showed a disk strain insulator having oppositely extending protective parts in the form of corrugations on both sides of the disk. They also showed integrally formed, centrally located hub portions and molded-in strain members.

On February 15, 1906, a joint application was filed by E. M. Hewlett, of Schenectady, and H. W. Buck, of New York, claiming the invention of a disk strain insulator which Steinberger claimed was the same as that for which he had subsequently filed application.

The record shows that Steinberger filed his application, serial No. 411,812, on January 20, 1908, and that this application matured into a patent on November 17, 1908, No. 904,370.

The Hewlett and Buck application was assigned to the General Electric Company and was prosecuted in its behalf until November 16, 1908, when the office entered a rejection thereon. No further prosecution was had and therefore it was abandoned under Section 2894, Revised Statutes, on and after November 17, 1909. Hewlett also filed on April 20, 1907, a sole application which was also assigned to the General Electric Company, counsel for Hewlett contending that the only presumption arising out of this condition was that Hewlett and Buck came to the conclusion, either upon the advice of counsel or otherwise, that they were not the combined inventors of the insulator defined in the issue, but that Hewlett was the sole inventor thereof.

Steinberger's application matured into a patent on November 17, 1908, notwithstanding the fact that the joint application of Buck and Hewlett, and the sole application of Hewlett antedated Steinberger's application in the patent office. Then, notwithstanding the fact that Steinberger's patent had actually been issued, his application was afterward declared to be in interference with Hewlett's claims for a similar device. The examiners-in-chief affirmed the decision of the examiner of interferences and awarded priority of invention to Hewlett. Steinberger made appeal from the decision of the examiners-in-chief and the opinion in this action was handed down on August 6, 1912, First Assistant Commissioner of Patents Billings writing the opinion. The record is rehearsed in detail and the issue apparently turns on the question as to whether the sketches and suggestions submitted by Steinberger to Buck disclosed the invention and this disclosure was further disclosed to Hewlett through Buck.

The question is also raised as to whether the corrugations referred to and indicated in the sketches of Steinberger were synonymous with the flanges and collars of the Hewlett invention, and also as to whether the purpose of Steinberger in corrugating the planes of the disk was to provide additional surface, thereby providing for greater surface leakage and comprehending also the utilization of these corrugations for providing comparatively dry spaces between the outer edges of the disk and the body portions thereof.

It so happened that an earlier patent of Steinberger's, No. 913,439. granted February 23, 1909, on an application filed November 27, 1905, made reference to the provision of the devices with corrugations for the purpose of providing increased surface for surface leakage, and also making provision for the establishment of comparatively dry spaces between the outer edges of the disks and the body portions thereof.

It was held by the commissioner that the invention of the issue was disclosed by Steinberger to Buck in 1905. It was also held that in the light of the record the refinements of language should not control, and that the words "corrugations," "flanges," and "collars" as used in this case, were synonymous. The decision of the examiners-in-chief was reversed and Steinberger held to be the original inventor of the issue.

Hewlett offered no testimony upon this action, electing to rest upon his date of filing, and later took an appeal from the award of priority to Steinberger in the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. In his decision, Associate Justice Robb reviews the prior testimony and record of the patent office, and reviews some additional testimony leading to his conclusion that the decision of the first assistant commissioner be affirmed.


Keywords:Electrose Manufacturing Company : Louis Steinberger
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:October 1, 2010 by: Bob Stahr;