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ARTCRAFT SILK HOSIERY MILLS v. ROMAN STRIPE MILLS

July 30, 1941

ARTCRAFT SILK HOSIERY MILLS, Inc.,
v.
ROMAN STRIPE MILLS, Inc.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BARD

This is a suit by Artcraft Silk Hosiery Mills, Inc., against Roman Stripe Mills, Inc., for alleged infringement of patents No. 1,715,323 and No. 1,915,792. Claims relative to the latter patent were withdrawn.

The plaintiff seeks to have the defendant enjoined from manufacture and sale of the allegedly infringing article, and to obtain an award of an accounting of profits and damages consequent to the alleged infringement.

 The complaint was filed January 22, 1934. The action was dismissed for lack of prosecution on February 9, 1940. On March 8, 1940, it was reinstated on the condition that the plaintiff waived its right of action or claim to any account for damages and profits for any act of infringement by the defendant more than three years prior to the entry of the reinstating order.

 The issues are (1) validity of the patent, (2) infringement of the patent, and (3) existence of laches barring the plaintiff from relief.

 The patent in suit relates to the manufacture of hosiery and provides for reinforcement of a particular point. This point, the point of juncture between the leg, heel and foot portions, is variously known as and referred to as the "corner point", "heel point", "heel corner", "topping corner" and "point of juncture". It is subject to special strain and has long proven a point of weakness and frequent consequent breakage.

 It is the plaintiff's contention that the patent in suit represents the final step essential to a successful reinforcement of the area, a step beyond the prior art and use, and one unanticipated by and not a natural development of that art and use. The defendant argues that the prior art and use in manufacture of hosiery either included or anticipated the claims of the patent.

 The defendant, as stated, also contends that, in the event the patent is a valid one, there has been no infringement and that, assuming infringement, the plaintiff is barred from relief by laches.

 I make the following special findings of fact:

 1. The plaintiff is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware.

 2. The defendant is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania.

 3. The patent in suit, number 1,715,323, was issued to the plaintiff as assignee of the applicant, Arthur M. Hahn, inventor, after proceedings had on application filed October 24, 1927.

 4. The plaintiff is owner of the entire right, title and interest in the patent.

 "(1) A stocking comprising a leg portion knitted with a single thread, a heel portion knitted with a plurality of threads, and a foot portion having the upper part knitted with a single thread and the lower part knitted with a plurality of threads, the leg portion, the parts of the foot portion and the heel portion meeting at points on opposite sides of the stocking, the lower part of the foot portion and the heel portion having extensions at each of these points forming areas knitted with a plurality of threads, each area tapering from the upper and front edges to the lower part of the foot portion and the heel portion respectively towards a point along the junction of the leg and upper part of the foot portion.

 "(2) A stocking comprising a leg portion knitted with a single thread, a heel portion knitted with a plurality of threads, and a foot portion having the upper part knitted with a single thread and the lower part knitted with a plurality of threads, the leg portion, the parts of the foot portion and the heel portion meeting at points on opposite sides of the stocking, the lower part of the foot portion and the heel portion having extensions at each of these points forming extensions at each of these points forming areas knitted with a plurality of threads, each area extending at an angle to the wales from the upper and front edges of the lower part of the foot portion and the heel portion a short distance along the junction of the leg and upper part of the foot portion, and including the corresponding meeting point of the leg, foot, and heel portions."

 6. The plaintiff notified the defendant in June, 1929, that plaintiff charged defendant with infringing the patent in suit.

 7. The plaintiff instituted this action January 22, 1934. It was dismissed February 9, 1940, under a Rule of court, for lack of prosecution. On March 9, 1940, by an order of court conditioned on plaintiff's waiver of claim to an accounting for damages and profits for the alleged infringement for a period more than three years prior to March 9, 1940, the action was reinstated.

 8. The point of juncture between the leg, heel and foot portions of hosiery for many years has been known to be a point of special strain, weakness and resultant breakage.

 9. Hosiery manufacturers endeavored for many years prior to the patent in suit to devise satisfactory reinforcement for this point of juncture and ...


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