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LEWIS E. HAMEL CO. v. P & K

May 17, 1960

LEWIS E. HAMEL CO., INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
P & K, INCORPORATED, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Platt, Chief Judge.

Plaintiff, Lewis E. Hamel Co., instituted this action against the defendant, P & K, Incorporated, alleging infringement of Patent No. 2,493,344, hereafter referred to as 344, and Design Patent No. 158,958, hereafter referred to as 958. Plaintiff dismissed, with prejudice, the allegations in the complaint alleging unfair competition. Both patents pertain to a plastic fishhook and snell holder and were issued to Lewis E. Hamel, the inventor, and assigned by him to the plaintiff.

In patent 344 the application was filed July 12, 1949, and issued January 3, 1950. The Design Patent No. 958 issued June 13, 1950, upon an application filed July 12, 1949.

The defendant contends:

(1) That both patents are invalid because:

(a) They do not rise to the status of invention in view of the prior art. 35 U.S.C.A. §§ 102(b), 171.*fn1

(b) The difference between the plaintiff's mechanical and design patents and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious to one having ordinary skill in the art. 35 U.S.C.A. §§ 103, 171.

(2) That claims 1, 2, 6, and 7 are broader than the invention described in the specifications which include the air chambers as an essential element.

(3) That the accused device does not infringe plaintiff's patents.

Claim one of patent 344 reads as follows: "1. A fishhook and snell holder comprising a housing consisting of two sections of plastic material permanently secured together, each of said sections having a channeled cross-section with slots at one end to receive spring-actuated retainers and a plurality of series of transversely arranged hook-receiving openings at the other end." Claim 2 adds longitudinal grooves in the outer surface of the housing which receive the snell and ridges between these grooves extending somewhat above the snells when the latter are in position. Claim 3 adds a sealed air chamber at the center of the housing formed when the two sections of the plastic material are permanently secured together. Claims 4 and 5 add no new element. Claims 6 and 7 add a spring-actuated retainer component which consists of slots at one end of each of the two main housing sections to receive spring-actuated retainers, these sections having curved grooves in their inner surfaces adjacent to the slots with springs and spring-actuated retainers seated and moveable in the grooves and spring guiding plate arranged between the sections having curved grooves in its opposite surfaces positioning the springs and retainers. Claims 8 and 9 add no new element but combine all the elements described in the prior claims.

The plaintiff maintains that all claims are valid and establish infringement of his fishhook and snell holder.*fn2 The claims are comprised of the following elements:

(1) A housing made of plastic.

    (2) "[A] housing * * * of two sections * * *
  permanently secured together, each * * * section
  having a channeled cross-section."
    (3) "[A] plurality of series of transversely
  arranged hook-receiving ...

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