decided: May 27, 1887.
APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
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MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD, after stating the case as above reported, delivered the opinion of the court.
We are of opinion that this decree must be affirmed. It is provided by § 4894 of the Revised Statutes at follows: "SEC.
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. All applications for patents shall be completed and prepared for examination within two years after the filing of the application, and in default thereof, or upon failure of the applicant to prosecute the same within two years after any action therein, of which notice shall have been given to the applicant, they shall be regarded as abandoned by the parties thereto, unless it be shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Patents that such delay was unavoidable." The applicant failed to prosecute his application within two years after the last action therein, of which notice was given to the applicant. The decree of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia was made on the 30th of January, 1880, and this bill was not filed until the 3d of May, 1883. No excuse for the laches and delay is set up in the bill and none is shown in the proofs, nor is it alleged in the bill that the delay was unavoidable. Although, as was said by this court in Butterworth v. Hoe, 112 U.S. 50, 61, (citing Whipple v. Miner, 15 Fed. Rep. 117; Ex parte Squire, 3 Ban. & Ard. 133; and Butler v. Shaw, 21 Fed. Rep. 321,) the proceeding by bill in equity, under § 4915, on the refusal to grant an application for a patent, intends a suit according to the ordinary course of equity practice and procedure, and is not a technical appeal from the Patent Office, nor confined to the case as made in the record on that office, but is prepared and heard upon all competent evidence adduced and upon the whole merits, yet the proceeding is, in fact and necessarily, a part of the application for the patent. Section 4915 declares that the judgment of the court, if in favor of the right of the applicant, is to be a judgment that the applicant "is entitled, according to law, to receive a partent for his invention, as specified in his claim, or for any part thereof, as the facts in the case may appear;" and that, if the adjudication be in favor of the right of the applicant, it shall authorize the Commissioner to issue the patent, on the filing in the Patent Office by the applicant of a copy of the adjudication and on his "otherwise complying with the requirements of haw." One requirement of law is, by § 4894, that the application shall be regarded as abandoned if the applicant fails to prosecute the same within two years
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after any action therein of which notice shall have been given to him, "unless it be shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Patents that such delay was unavoidable." All that the court which takes cognizance of the bill in equity, under § 4915, is authorized to do is to adjudge whether or not "the applicant is entitled, according to law, to receive a patent," and, after an adjudication in his favor to that effect, the Commissioner is not authorized to issue a patent unless the applicant otherwise complies with the requirements of law. In the present case, there would be no compliance with the requirements of law, in view of the delay for more than two years, unless it be shown to the satisfaction of the court that the delay was unavoidable. The jurisdiction of the application being transferred, pro tanto, to the court, by virtue of the bill in equity, it cannot adjudge that the applicant is entitled, according to law, to receive a patent, unless he shows to the satisfaction of the court that the delay was unavoidable, under an allegation to that effect in the bill.The presumption of abandonment, under § 4894, unless it is shown that the delay in prosecuting the application for two years and more after the last prior action, of which notice was given to the applicant, was unavoidable, exists as fully in regard to that branch of the application involved in the remedy by bill in equity as in regard to any other part of the application, whether so much of it as is strictly with in the Patent Office, or so much of it as consists of an appeal to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia under § 4911. The decision of the court on a bill in equity becomes, equally with the judgment of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia on a direct appeal under § 4911, the decision of the Patent Office, and is to govern the action of the Commissioner. It is, therefore, clearly a branch of the application for the patent, and to be governed by the rule as to laches and delay declared by § 4894 to be attendant upon the application.
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