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The rights of property and exclusive use granted to a patentee does not extend to a foreign vessel lawfully entering a United States port; and that the use of such improvement, in the construction, fitting out, or equipment of such vessel, while she is coming into or going out of a port of the United States, is not an infringement of the rights of an American patentee, provided it was placed upon her in a foreign port, and authorized by the laws of the country to which she belongs.
Plaintiff brought an action against defendant for the infringement of a patent which plaintiff had obtained for a new and useful improvement in constructing the gaff of sailing vessels. Plaintiff contended that defendant used the improvement without his consent. Defendant maintained that the gaffs that he used were placed on his boat at or near the time it was launched by the builder in order to fit the boat for sea. The trial court entered judgment in favor of defendant. Plaintiff appealed.
Under the circumstances, could the defendant be held liable for infringement of plaintiff’s patent?
The Court affirmed the trial court's decision when the Court found that the rights of property and exclusive use granted to plaintiff did not extend to a foreign vessel lawfully entering one of the ports of the United States and that the use of such improvement while the ship was coming into or going out of an American port was not an infringement of plaintiff's rights, provided it was placed upon the ship in a foreign port and authorized by the laws of the country to which the ship belonged.