The Harrisburg Filter Patent Decision
On August 25 the decision in the case of the New York Continental Jewell Filtration Company vs. the City of Harrisburg, tried in the Circuit Court of the United States, Middle District of Pennsylvania, was handed down by Judge Buffington, and is sweeping in character. The claims of the plaintiff company are upheld, and the long-contested controversy as to the validity of the so-called negative head, or down draft patent, has finally been settled. The case, which has been in the course of trial since the middle of 1908, has attracted wide attention, and the outcome is of extreme importance to the water filtration world, made so by the fact that practically without exception the down draft feature is embodied in all modern rapid sand filtration plants. The patents in suit, commonly known as the negative head patents, are No. 644,137, dated February 27. 1900, and reissue No. 11,672, dated June 28, 1898 (original No. 546,738, dated September 24, 1895). Infringement of these patents was claimed by the plaintiff company on account of the building and use of the filter plant of the city of Harrisburg, which was erected in 1905, the engineer being James H. Fuertes, of New York City. It was claimed in this case that the Harrisburg plant was copied in design from the well known Little Falls plant of the East Jersey Water Company, which plant, according to the evidence, was designed by the complainant company. At about the time the Harrisburg plant was built a similar suit for infringement of these patents was brought by the New York Continental Jewell Filtration Company against the Butler Water Company, and the latter company finally submitted to a decree finding infringement of the claims on which the Harrisburg suit was later based, so that while until now the negative head patents had not been adjudicated they bad been recognized as valid, in this instance at least. The defense of the suit against the city of Harrisburg was conducted not only by that city, but other alleged infringers of the same patents furnished money and services in resisting the complainant company’s claims. Notable among those aiding the city of Harrisburg in its defense of the suit were the cities of New Orleans, La., and Columbus, O.; the Louisville. Ky., Water Company; the Hackensack, N. J.. Water Company, and engineers for the defendant and others, notably James H. Fuertes, George W. Fuller and Allen Hazen. For the complainant company testimony was given by ottier manufacturers who are competitors of the complainant comoany. namely, the Norwood Engineering Company, the Pittsburgh Filter Manufacturing Comoany and the Roberts Filter Manufacturing Company, by the general manager of the complainant company, Robert E. Milligan, and oy George A. Johnson, Prof. William P. Mason. Prof. James M. Caird and others. The attorneys for the complainant company were James T. Kay and William B. Anderson, and for the defense Daniel S. Seitz and M. W. Jacobs.