The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS
This is a patent cause which is prosecuted by the patentee in person although the grant itself was solicited by an attorney.
The issue litigated is that of infringement, although the defendants successfully assert invalidity if the claims can be so distended as to read upon their structures.
United States Patent No. 1,815,303 was granted July 21, 1931, upon Application filed August 28, 1929, and the invention claimed is that of a hydro-speed ship of unique hull construction, one that can travel at 100 knots, by skimming across the upper surface of the water, propulsion being by air propellers on deck.
The vessel, as proposed, is to be water-borne, but the resistance of the water 'is reduced to a minimum' through relationship of the parts so that 'the surface of the water will merely serve as a partial support for the weight of the vessel'.
It is perhaps superfluous to observe that there has been no embodiment of the invention recited in the patent, but a model was built of the hull structure as conceived, which is in evidence. The proportions are indicated as shown by a length of 280 feet, width 27 feet, and depth 10 1/2 feet.
Accomplishment of the proclaimed purpose of the invention is to be attained through two agencies:
(a) Two tunnel-like structures which run fore and aft for the entire bottom of the vessel on either side of the central fin or keel, as shown in Fig. 4, between the upturns of the hull at the bow and stern. This is the basis of the plaintiff's claim of infringement, and will be briefly discussed.
(b) A series of arrow-shaped blades which project down from the central fin or keel, and from the bottoms of the outer walls of the lateral tunnels, the lateral fins, which are referred to above. The dimensions of these blades are not given, but Fig. 2 discloses that they are numerous and are disposed beneath, but attached to, the three fins. These blades incline downward from front to rear and, as to those on the lateral fins, are called 'supporting elements', which rest on the upper surface of the water and cooperate with the latter 'to maintain the boat at a level where these two rows of blades 42 and 43 just graze or skim the water'.
The blades attached to the keel fin 'extend beneath the surface of the water and thus serve in effect as anchors to anchor the boat to the water'. (Italics supplied.)
This latter agency, the assembly of blades, is not relied upon to establish infringement, and in face of the uncontradicted testimony, any contention to the contrary would be idle.
The tunnels alone constitute the offense imputed to the defendants, and are the only subject which requires attention.
The following is quoted from a memorandum filed by the plaintiff to vindicate the above statement:
'5. That Letters Patent No. 1,815,303, outlines original means for an 'Air-intake Bow', to overcome vacuum, suctions and resistance for take-off and landing of Seaplanes and Floats, as per Statements of drawings, under 'To Whom It May Concernes (sic)'.'
'16. That the invention is a hull with highest percentage of 'Seaworthiness', regardless of weather-conditions, also of 'Safety and Speed', so well expressed in its entire structure, able to reach the far distant points with maximum reserve fuel left in its tanks.
'17. That the most common but hazardous problem till then prevailing was, 'bottom-rip' for ship and Sea-plane alike, as well as, 'nose-diving', where waves would wash completely (sic) over the bow, of the hull; -- this and the turning into the wind or by change of the course, where the impact of side-rolling waves have caused severest damage, for which the sharp concave vee keel with its downward water spray, was originally invented by the plaintiff, and outlined in his Letters Patent No. 1,815,303. (Italics supplied.)
'18. That no prior Art has these principles, and the inventor achieved 'success' on his own merits without consulting prior Art, and could not do ...