The inventor of a new and useful improvement certainly has no exclusive right to it, until he obtains a patent. This right is created by the patent, and no suit can be maintained by the inventor against any one for using it before the patent is issued. But the discoverer of a new and useful improvement is vested by law with an inchoate right to its exclusive use, which he may perfect and make absolute by proceeding in the manner which the law requires.
Petitioner individuals sought review of a jury verdict in favor of respondent patent owner in his action for infringement of a patent for the use of plaster of Paris in the construction of fire-proof chests on the ground that the patentee was not the first inventor of the product. The act of 1836, ch. 357, § 6, authorized a patent where a party had discovered a new and useful improvement not known or used by others before his discovery or invention, and § 15 provided that in an infringement trial, if it appeared that the patentee was not the original and first inventor or discoverer of the thing patented, the defendant would be entitled to a verdict.
Was the patentee considered as the original and first inventor of the product?
The Court affirmed a judgment in favor of respondent patent owner in his action against petitioner individuals for their infringement of a patent for the use of plaster of Paris in manufacturing fire-proof safes because even though another person may have invented the same product, the original inventor did not test the product, manufacture it, or use it, so it was abandoned and the patentee was deemed the first inventor.