Wilbur-Ellis Company v. Kuther

PETITIONER: Wilbur-Ellis Company
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 377 US 422 (1964)
ARGUED: Feb 20, 1964
DECIDED: Jun 08, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Wilbur-Ellis Company v. Kuther

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1964 in Wilbur-Ellis Company v. Kuther

Earl Warren:

Number 109, Wilbur-Ellis Company et al., Petitioners, versus Max K. Kuther.

Mr. Neal.

Frank A. Neal:

Yes, Mr. Chief Justice and Your Honors, may the Court please.

This is a patent case and the issue presented to the Court involves a question of whether or not the acts complained about amounted to impermissible reconstruction.

The patent in suit is one for a fish-packing machine.

There are five claims to the patent.

The mode of operation of the machine might be of interest to the Court.

I don't know how familiar the Court is with the record.

In any event, fish are fed in by a plurality of conveyors and, eventually, are deposited in open-top arcuate pockets.

After the deposit of the fish in the pockets and arcuate-top open-bottom compressor comes down to compress the bundle of fish into a charge which would fit a cylindrical can.

Byron R. White:

What kind of a top did you say?

I didn't hear.

Frank A. Neal:

Pardon me.

It's shaped like this, Your Honor.

The fish are in here and this comes down and presses the fish.

When that is done, a plunger comes along and ejects the fish into the can.

It's a fairly high-speed machine.

Now --

Potter Stewart:

For a fish like sardines.

Frank A. Neal:

Yes, sir.

Yes sir.

They were primarily designed for the packing of sardines.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

It would be in the patents.

Frank A. Neal:

No, it isn't.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

It's been litigated?

Frank A. Neal:

It has been litigated and it been -- has been held to be valid.

Now, there are four accused machines which were acquired by the petitioner, Wilbur-Ellis, by way of a purchase.

In other words, the machines were the subject of an outright and unconditional sale stemming from the respondent.

These machines, at least three of the four, were in a fairly sad condition due to corrosion and so forth.

And, the -- each of those three machines were purchased at a cost of $1,250 a piece.