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PENNINGTON ENGG. CO v. HOUDE ENGG. CORP.

January 21, 1941

PENNINGTON ENGINEERING CO
v.
HOUDE ENGINEERING CORPORATION



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KNIGHT

KNIGHT, District Judge.

The complaint alleges two causes of action: one based on breach of confidence in that the defendant manufactured shock absorbers embodying plaintiff's invention after the confidential disclosure of such invention to the defendant; the other for patent infringement. Since liability on the first cause of action depends upon liability upon the second, the question of infringement will be first considered.

The complaint alleges infringement of Claims 18, 27, 28 and 37 of Patent No. 2,009,677, original application filed November 19, 1928, and issued to the plaintiff on July 30, 1935. On the trial plaintiff conceded non-validity of Claim 18.

 It is not necessary to detail the functions performed by the automobile shock absorber. Suffice it to say it is to limit and retard the re-bound movement of the springs when road obstacles are encountered.

 Each of the devices in suit is what is known as a hydraulic vane type of automobile shock absorber. Such type has been in use for many years. One Maurice Houdaille pioneered in the development of its basic features. Patents thereon were first issued to him upwards of thirty years ago, and since then numerous patents directed to the development of the hydraulic shock absorbers have been issued to him or to his associates or successors in interest. The defendant corporation takes the word "Houde" as an abbreviation of the name "Houdaille". The plaintiff's device has never been placed upon the market for sale. A considerable number have been manufactured for demonstration purposes. The defendant corporation, as the manufacturer of shock absorbers, is widely known and has made and sold shock absorbers up into the millions.

 The unassembled parts in Pennington and one of the three stipulated defendant's structures, Exhibit A, are shown in the following diagram: (The differences in these structures are not material here.)

 [See Illustration in Original]

 The parts in assembly in Pennington and defendant's accused structure, stipulated Exhibit "A", are here shown:

 [See Illustration in Original]

 The essential mechanical elements of the Pennington invention in combination are these: a casing structure comprising a working chamber having three main parts, a rear wall member, front wall member, and intermediate member, the three secured together in fixed relation to each other by dowel bolts and cap screws, a shaft with a swing piston integral with a vane extending radially therefrom, with bearing support on the front and rear wall members, the three members, when secured together in conjunction with the hub of the piston, providing a sectorshaped chamber in which the vane swings radially. The hub and vane are of the same width axially and the sides and the outer edge of the vane move closely in the sides and peripheral wall of the sector. Means are provided for the recovery of any leakage from the working chamber through the joints and its return through a replenishment passage in the front member to the chamber. This single vane construction is of the eccentric type.

 The accused structures each embody a cylindrical cup-shaped outer casing forming the end and side walls of a working chamber and an end wall held in engagement with the cylindrical cup member; a so-called ring wing with two abutments integral therewith, which is inserted tightly in the cup-shaped member; a shaft held in bearings in the cup-shaped member on the end walls with a screw piston integral with two vanes extending radially therefrom. The hub and vanes are axially of the same width and the vanes move angularly in the sectors formed in the cup-shaped member, with the sides and edges of the vane in close proximity with the interior of the side members and peripheral wall of the ring wing. These assemblies also show means for the recovery of leakage.

 Disregarding the question of any automatic replenishment of the working liquid and freedom from leakage, the only question of structural difference is with regard to the type of the abutments. In view of the fact that Claim 18 has been withdrawn as an issue, it is necessary only to consider the method of replenishment of the working chamber functioning as a part of the combination of plaintiff's structure. There is insufficient change in this replenishment method over the type of Houdaille utilized before Pennington to attribute invention to this alone.

 This type obviously is the dual vane concentric type.

 The accused structure hereinbefore shown and the second and third accused structure function essentially in the same manner and each discloses the ...


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