CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.
Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson, Rutledge, Burton
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
Writs of certiorari have been granted, 335 U.S. 810, to review two judgments of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit involving the same patent. What we shall call the Jones patent was No. 2,043,960, issued to Lloyd Theodore Jones and others, for an electric welding process and for fluxes, or compositions, to be used therewith. The patent is now owned by The Linde Air Products Company, which brought an action for infringement against the Lincoln and two Graver companies.
The District Court held four of the flux claims valid and infringed and concluded that the patent owner had not misused the patent so as to forfeit its claims to relief therefor. It held certain other flux claims and all of the process claims invalid. 75 U. S. P. Q. 231.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the findings that four flux claims were valid and infringed and that the patent had not been abused, but reversed the trial court and held valid the process claims and the remaining contested flux claims. 167 F.2d 531.
The petitioners contend not only that the Court of Appeals' judgment should be reversed, but that we should also reverse the District Court's finding of partial validity and should declare the patent entirely invalid and not infringed.
At the trial the electric welding prior art and the nature of the Jones invention were explored at length, and opinions of the two courts below, already in the books, adequately discuss the technology of that art and the scientific features of the claims involved. We shall confine this opinion to a statement of the legal principles which lead to our decision.
I. FLUX CLAIMS 18, 20, 22 AND 23, HELD VALID, AND INFRINGED, BY TWO COURTS BELOW.
Electric welding was an established art before this invention but one with serious limitations which the industry sought to overcome. The known method was slow and laborious and permitted welding of only relatively thin plates. It was of different types, but each had such deficiencies as a dazzling open arc, smoke and splatter, which made operation unpleasant and somewhat hazardous.
Three scientifically trained individuals, Jones, Kennedy and Rotermund, set out purposely to discover a cure for the deficiencies and inadequacies in the method of flux welding, then the most successful method known. They collaborated for some six months in conducting a series of about 500 experiments in the course of which they compounded 75 different flux compositions. They finally produced the invention for which a patent was sought.
The trial court noted that the results produced by their invention contrasted with those possible under all prior methods in that "there is no glare, no open arc, no splatter, and very little, if any, smoke in the Jones, et al. method."
"The truly remarkable difference, however, between what Jones, Kennedy and Rotermund invented and what had gone on before is perhaps best manifested by the performance achievements of their invention. For instance, only through its use can plates as thick as two and one-half inches be welded in a single pass. Furthermore, the welding speeds made possible by it dwarf those of any other method, and the welds produced by it are of the highest ...