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Carbo-Frost Inc. v. Stanley Knight Corp.

June 2, 1941

CARBO-FROST, INC., ET AL.
v.
STANLEY KNIGHT CORPORATION ET AL.



Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division; John P. Barnes, Judge.

Author: Evans

Before EVANS and MAJOR, Circuit Judges, and BRIGGLE, District Judge.

EVANS, Circuit Judge.

Patent No. 1,785,326, dated December 16, 1930, covering "Method of and Apparatus for Utilizing Phase-Changeable- Materal." is the subject of this litigation. The District Court found the claims in suit were invalid. It also found that if valid, they were infringed.

We might well accept the opinion of the District Court for it states the reasons for the conclusions reached, with which we agree. Appellants, however, argue most earnestly that the prior art citations upon which the court relied are in a different field, and they also cling tenaciously to the showing of extensive use, which would be quite impressive if we were otherwise in doubt.However, we need not investigate the extent of the use nor how much of it may be justifiably attributed to the patent, unless there exists a doubt as to the patent's validity.

The invention deals with the container for distribution of CO2, a gas, under pressure, for which there is and long has been a demand from producers of carbonated beverages. Appellants claim that prior to the advent of its Rudd liquefier, liquid CO2 was produced in central (generally "coke") plants, charged into steel cylinders which were shipped to the distributors in various key cities, and from there sold and delivered in cylinders to customers or users. When the cylinder was empty, it was brought back to the distributing station from which it was returned to the plant to be refilled.

A standard steel cylinder when charged, contained sixty pounds of liquid CO2. It was very cold and as the temperature moderated, more and more of the liquid CO2 changed to gas, until a pressure of 1,000 to 1,500 1bs. per square inch was produced. These cylinders were classed as dangerous apparatus. Each weighed approximately 110 1bs. Thus, in every sale of 50 1bs. of gas, there was involved a freight bill of 270 1bs. of shipping weight. The shipping distance ranged from 200 to 800 miles, and the freight charges became a heavy burden on the industry. For this reason the trade had long sought a way of avoiding it.

Patentable invention in appellants' liquefier is asserted, because it made possible the elimination of the long distance shipping and the freight bills above referred to. It is also claimed that the satisfying of an acute demand long existing evidences patentable novelty.

Of the seven claims of this patent, three are for method (1, 2, and 3) and the last four are apparatus claims.

We quote claims 1 and 4 as somewhat typical (one of the process, the other of the product) of the invention which the patent covers:

No. 1. "The method of sealing the filling opening of a container, which comprises

"(a) introducing phase-changeable solid material into said container through said opening,

"(b) and thereafter retaining a closure plate in sealed relation with respect to said opening solely by the pressure exerted thereon by gas arising from ...


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