« ZurückWeiter »
ing an injunction against its enforcement or to depriving the party in whose favor it has been rendered of the benefit which he has derived from it. Indeed, it may be that such is all that such a bill is ever properly concerned with. If such a bill is so limited, the above reasoning cannot be applied to prevent its being filed pending an appeal from the decree. The two proceedings are not in such a case seeking the same relief. The appeal is seeking to have the decree vacated and set aside, whereas the bill is seeking to prevent its enforcement or to obtain a restoraticn of the benefits derived under it. It is on the ground that such a bill may be so limited, or such is its proper nature, that it has been held that a Circuit Court of the United States can give relief against a decree of a state court obtained by fraud. It was so held in the cases of Gaines v. Fuentes, 92 U. S. 10, 23 L. E1. 524, and Marshall v. Holmes, 141 U. S. 597, 12 Sup. Ct. 62, 35 L. Ed. 870, where the bills sought an injunction against an enforcement of the decrees, and also in the cases of Johnson v. Waters, 111 U. S. 667, 4 Sup. Ct. 619, 28 L. Ed. 547, and Arrowsmith v. Gleason, 129 U. S. 99, 9 Sup. Ct. 237, 32 L. Ed. 630, where the bills sought a restoration of benefits derived under them. In the case of Barrow v. Hunton, 99 U. S. 80, 25 L. Ed. 407, it was held that a federal court had no jurisdiction of a direct attack on the decree of a state court. Mr. Justice Bradley there said:
“The question presented with regard to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court is whether the proceeding to procure nullity of the former judgment in such a case as the present is or is not in its nature a separate suit, or whether it is a supplementary proceeding so connected with the original suit as to form an incident to it, and substantially a continuation of it. If the proceeding is merely tantamount to the common-law practice of moving to set aside a judgment for irregularity, or to a writ of error, or to a bill of review or an appeal, it would belong to the latter category, and the United States Court could not properly entertain jurisdiction of the case. Otherwise the Circuit Courts of the United States would become invested with power to control the proceedings in the state courts, or would have appellate jurisdiction over them in all cases where the parties are citizens of different states. Such a result would be totally inadmissible. On the other hand, if the proceedings are tantamount to a bill in equity to set aside a decree for fraud in the obtaining thereof, then they constitute an original and independent proceeding, and, accordng to the doctrine laid down in Gaines v. Fuentes, 92 U. S. 10, 23 L. Ed. 524, the case might be within the cognizance of the federal courts. The distinction between the two classes of cases may be somewhat nice, but it may be affirmed to exist. In the one class there would be a mere revision of errors and irregularities, or of the legality and correctness of the judgments and decrees of the state courts; and in the other class the investigation of a new case arising upon new facts, although having relation to the validity of an actual judgment or decree, or of the party's right to claim any benefit by reason thereof."
It must be held, therefore, that there is nothing in the case of Ensminger v. Powers that militates against the lower court having jurisdiction, pending an appeal to this court from its decree, to hear an application for an injunction against the enforcement thereof on the ground that it had been obtained by fraud, and of granting such application if a proper case for such a relief was made. This was all the relief which said alleged cross-bill sought, and is all the relief granted by the preliminary injunction complained of.
The fact that a reversal of the decree on the appeal will render unnecessary the continuation of the injunction, or, rather, deprive it of further effect, is not against the court's jurisdiction to grant it. Nor is the fact that the decree might have been superseded, and was not. It is inequitable that a decree shall be enforced, and the party affected by it shall be harassed thereby, when that decree has been obtained by fraud, and this equity on his part is not weakened by either circumstance. He should not be put to the necessity of superseding such a decree, nor run the risk of not getting back property taken from him thereunder. The action of the lower court, therefore, was clearly within its jurisdiction as a judicial tribunal of original jurisdiction.
It is urged, however, that the cross-bill contradicts the record in alleging that the defendant Oglesby had ceased to be a stockholder and president of the defendant company at the time of the filing of the bill; the record showing that he ceased being so shortly after the filing of the bill, and not before; that the subject-matter of the cross-bill could have been raised in the answer filed before decree, and was not, therefore, proper subject-matter for a cross-bill; and that a cross-bill cannot be filed after a final decree. The case of Dickerman v. Northern Trust Co., 80 Fed. 450, 25 C. C. A. 549 is cited in support of the second proposition just stated, and the cases of Rogers v. Riessner (C. C.) 31 Fed. 591, and Bronson v. La Crosse & Milwaukee R. R. Co., 67 U. S. 528, 17 L. Ed. 359, are cited in support of the third and last one.
But it is not true that the subject-matter of the cross-bill could have been raised by answer filed before decree. The subject-matter of the cross-bill was not defendant Oglesby's liability to plaintiff, but that the decree against him had been obtained by fraud. This could not have been set up before the decree. It is true, however, that a cross-bill cannot be filed after final decree. This position was urged in the lower court against the granting of the preliminary injunction, and Judge Clark, who heard the matter, responded to it in these words:
“It is not necessary to undertake now to fix the technical name of the bill, or petition, as it may be called, filed in this case, or to determine whether technically it should be called an original bill, cross-bill, a bill in the nature of a bill of review, or a petition in the cause. There can be no doubt that such jurisdiction and power as exists to grant an injunction pending the appeal before the Circuit Court of Appeals exists in the judge of the court below, and that also such power as the judge may exercise, if properly invoked by a pleading or petition in this same case, rather than by an independent bill. The subject-matter and purpose of the pleading must be looked to, to determine its proper designation under the law of procedure, and not the name under which it may be filed in court.”.
But, the lower court having jurisdiction to hear and determine a case of the kind presented by said pleading, it was within its jurisdiction to determine also as to the propriety and sufficiency of the proceedings by which it was presented. If it has erred in this particular, the error can be corrected by this court only upon an appeal from the order granting the preliminary injunction. It cannot do so by mandamus.
The petition for the writ is denied.
PRINDLE V. BROWN et al. *
(Circuit Court of Appeals, First Circuit. August 2, 1907.)
1. PATENTS--REMEDY IN EQUITY FOR REFUSAL OF PATENT-SCOPE.
The broad scope of Rev. St. § 4915 [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3392], authorizing a suit in equity to establish the right to a patent, was in no way limited or qualified by Act Feb. 9, 1893, c. 74, 27 Stat. 434 [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3391), providing for appeals from the decision of the Com
missioner of Patents to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. 2. SAME-SUFFICIENCY OF BILL.
A bill filed under Rev. St. § 4915 [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3392], to establish the right of complainant to a patent which alleges that "before the sixth day of June 1900" complainant "was the true, original, and first inventor” of the device in issue, that on that day he filed his application for a patent therefor, and that on May 28, 1900, defendant filed an application for the same invention on which after interference proceedings he was awarded a patent, is not fatally defective on general demur
rer. 3. SAME-ALLEGATION OF DATE OF INVENTION.
A bill which states the date of an application for a patent is not to be held to state that the invention was then first completed or reduced to practice unless nothing is alleged showing invention prior thereto, and a further allegation that the invention was made prior to such date covers the fact of reduction to practice, and is sufficient to carry the date
back of the application, Appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Massachusetts.
For opinion below, see 136 Fed. 616.
Before COLT and PUTNAM, Circuit Judges, and ALDRICH, District Judge.
PUTNAM, Circuit Judge. This is a bill seeking to establish a patent for an invention in accordance with section 4915 of the Revised Statutes [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3392]. It was heard on demurrer in the Circuit Court, and dismissed; whereupon the complainant appealed to us. There was also filed in the Circuit Court a cross-bill, which was likewise dismissed on demurrer; but, there being no appeal from that decree, we have no occasion to consider that proceeding.
The application of the complainant below for a patent was decided against him by the Commissioner of Patents, whose decision was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, as appears by Prindle v. Brown, 24 App. Cas. D. C. 114. That proceeding was brought under section 4914 of the Revised Statutes, as amended by the act to establish the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, approved on February 9, 1893 (27 Stat. 434, c. 74). Section 4914 directs that the case be heard on the evidence produced before the Commissioner of Patents. It has never been held to preclude a proceeding under section 4915; and the propositions of the Supreme Court in Re Hien, 166 U. S. 432, 439, 17 Sup. Ct. 624, 41 L. Ed. 1066, leave no opportunity for any contention that the broad range of section 4915 has been in any way limited or qualified by the act of 1893.
*Rehearing denied October 16, 1907.
The bill in the Circuit Court was filed by the present appellant against Brown, Miller, and Trufant. Trufant answered, and did not demur. Brown and Miller demurred jointly. One of the grounds of demurrer is that Trufant has no interest in any pending issue, and was not a proper party respondent, and that the bill should be dismissed as against him; but no point as to parties has been made before us. The demurrer contains 12 different assignments of causes of demurrer; and, although the arguments at bar took a very broad range, we are unable to perceive that any topic is presented here except the following:
The bill alleges at the beginning of it that, “before the 6th day of June, 1900,” Prindle "was the true, original, and first inventor” of the improvement in issue, and that an application for a patent therefor was filed by him on that day, the ultimate refusal of which application is the subject-matter of this litigation. It also alleges that Trufant on September 27, 1899, filed an application for a patent for the same invention; that this application was abandoned; that on August 1, 1901, he filed a second application; that the later application was put in interference with Prindle and Brown; and that finally priority was awarded to Brown by the Commissioner, which decision was sustained on appeal, as we have already said. The bill nowhere alleges or admits that Trufant obtained a patent. There are allegations that Trufant disclosed an invention to Miller, and that Miller, "seeking surreptitiously to appropriate the aforesaid invention," disclosed it to Brown, and caused Brown to file in the Patent Office an application on May 28, 1900, and that this resulted in the patent to Brown which the
complainant now seeks to supersede. The bill does not allege whether Trufant conceived the same invention that the complainant conceived, or derived the knowledge of it from the complainant, or, indeed, whether he conceived any invention whatever. This is of no consequence as the case stands. The only material thing on this appeal in all these allegations is that an application was made by Trufant, and also one by Brown on May 28, 1900. This was eight days before the application was made by the complainant; so that if the complainant's pleadings limit him under the ordinary rule that, when no other date is disclosed, the invention does not run back of the day of the filing of the application, it follows that the bill cannot be sustained. But we do not find any such condition of pleadings.
The view of the learned judge of the Circuit Court was that, on the allegations of the bill, it cannot be said that Prindle's invention preceded the date of the filing of his application on June 6, 1900; but the bill alleges that Prindle was the true, original, and first inventor, and at various points it repeats that he was the inventor. It is true that, if the only thing alleged was that Prindle's application was filed on June 6th, the dates would negative priority on the part of Prindle; but the word “before,” which we have shown is connected in the bill with the words “the 6th day of June," leaves no contradiction on the face of the pleadings. Therefore the record stands that Prindle was the true, original, and first inventor, which is all that is required by section 4392 of the Revised Statutes [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3384], as amended, in regard to the mere particular of priority. This, of course, overrules to the common understanding the allegations of the dates of the applications made by Trufant and Brown. The other dates given in the bill stand without support from anything else in the proceedings.
The only difficulty, therefore, is that the words "before the 6th day of June” are uncertain because they do not allege a precise date, and therefore do not conform to the ordinary rules of pleading. This uncertainty, however, does not relate to any matter of substance, because, so far as the substance is concerned, Prindle's priority is positively alleged. It relates only to a matter of form. The demurrer assigns 12 alleged errors in the pleadings, none of which have been brought to our attention by the respondents; but it fails to make any assignment against the allegation "before the 6th day of June." Being an uncertainty in a mere matter of form, this is good even at common law unless especially assigned as error. 1 Chitty on Pleading, *277, *709. The same rule also applies in equity. Story's Equity Pleadings (10th Ed.) § 528.
But the rule in equity goes even farther. The respondents maintain that, on a demurrer of this character, the bill should be dismissed unless its allegations contain distinct and “uninistakable averment” of what is necessary to maintain the suit. So strong a rule as this is not applicable even at common law, except as to pleas in abatement, which are required to be certain to a certain intent; and in equity the rule is the reverse. Equity seeks to act on the merits, which is not always attainable on a demurrer; and therefore equity will usually direct an answer unless the demurrer shows that, for want of proper allegations, it is “an absolutely certain and clear proposition that the bill would be dismissed at the hearing on the merits.” Daniell's Chancery Practice (6th Am. Ed.) 543. It is worth while in this connection to turn to Swift v. United States, 196 U. S. 375, 395, 25 Sup. Ct. 276, 49 L. Ed. 518, for a statement of the rule which secures a liberal interpretation pro and con of pleadings in equity, to the effect that they are to be taken to mean what their language fairly conveys to a dispassionate reader, in accordance to a fairly exact use of English speech. The reason for the difference in practice on demurrer between common law and equity is very plain. According to proper pleadings at common law, a plaintiff's case is stated succinctly, while in equity the relations of the parties are more frequently complicated, and the circumstances which may shade the relief to which he is entitled, if any, or which may indeed bar his right to relief at all, are often so mixed that it is not easy for the court to perceive their precise bearings until the facts are all worked out at the hearing on the merits. The practice in this respect was applied by the Supreme Court, and the reasons therefor worked out under very important and interesting conditions, in Kansas v. Colorado, 185 U. S. 125, 144, 145, 22 Sup. Ct. 552, 46 L. Ed. 838; and the wisdom exercised by the court in postponing consideration of matters of law appearing on the pleadings until the hearing on the merits was made very apparent by the further opinion in the same case, passed down on May 13, 1907,