Deepsouth Packing Company, Inc. v. Laitram Corporation

PETITIONER: Deepsouth Packing Company, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Laitram Corporation
LOCATION: Patuxent Institution

DOCKET NO.: 71-315
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 406 US 518 (1972)
ARGUED: Apr 11, 1972
DECIDED: May 30, 1972

Guy W. Shoup - for respondent
Harold J. Birch - for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Deepsouth Packing Company, Inc. v. Laitram Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 11, 1972 in Deepsouth Packing Company, Inc. v. Laitram Corporation

Warren E. Burger:

After lunch, we will take up argument in 71-315, Deepsouth Packing Co. against the Laitram Corporation.

Mr. Birch, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Harold J. Birch:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The question before this Court this afternoon is relatively easy to state, simply it is a combination claim of the United States patent, infringed by one who manufactures and sells the separate parts in the United States, when all assembly end use takes place in a foreign country.

I suppose even more simply the question could be stated, does a combination claim of the United States patent, reach separate, unassembled parts or is it limited to the combination, the assembled combination.

It is petitioner's view here that there is no infringement on the facts of this case, that a combination claim reaches only the assembled combination and that it does not reach the separate parts.

As far as our considerations here are concerned, the ship which took Deepsouth's parts from the peer in and New Orleans might as well have sunk five miles offshore, the question is whether or not a combination claim means what this Court consistently has held it means and what the statute says it means.

Now, perhaps prior to getting into the facts, that is the claim, it would be well for the Court to review or for me to review for the Court briefly what got us here.

This case began as an infringement case in the District Court in Louisiana.

The respondent, Laitram Corporation brought suit against petitioner Deepsouth, for infringement of two patents.

Now one of those patents we call the slitter patent.

Its number is 2694218; the other is called the Tumbler or Deveiner patent and its number is 2825927.

I would like to invite the Court's attention if I may, to the large buff colored Appendix and more particularly to Page 114.

William O. Douglas:

Counsel, is there any issue of validity here at all?

Harold J. Birch:

This Court has refused certiorari Mr. Justice Douglas, with respect to the questions presented on validity.

William O. Douglas:

It is purely infringement.

Harold J. Birch:

It's purely the infringement question as posed in my opening statement.

You will note on Page 114, in figure 1, there is a device shown, that's the only device disclosed in this patent and the Court will see that it consists of an inclined trough razor blades there only one set, zigzagging down the trough and water sprays downward upon the top of the blades can shrimp if they could be there in a right angle direction.

Now, if you will then turn to Page 443 of the Index, which is in the supplement, you will find a picture of Laitram's commercial device, which shows a plurality of blades on the trough.

The only other difference being that the water sprays are omitted in the commercial device, omitted because they didn't work to devein.

Now if Your Honors, then we will turn to the large Appendix book to Page 120, you will see figure 1 of the patent there which discloses the commercial embodiment of the Laitram Deveiner, which is a drum, a cylindrical drum to which the slit shrimp are fed and as they go through the drum with a residence time of between one and two minutes, the veins which have been exposed by the slitting procedure with the previous apparatus are either pulled out if they are hanging free or dug out if they are not.

William O. Douglas:

On what page is that?

Harold J. Birch:

That's on page 122 Mr. Justice Douglas, or 120, essentially the same picture shows in both.

If you again will look at the small Appendix on Pages 445 and 446, you will see a picture of the Laitram.

William O. Douglas:

I have to have a copy of Appendix, part of which is printed in one way, another is in upside down.

Harold J. Birch:

Oh, I am terribly sorry, Mr. Justice Douglas.

We tried to correct that with the clerk, may I give you mine or --

William O. Douglas:

Get me another one.

Justice Marshall's?

Potter Stewart:

Could I get a patent on that?