Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Overprinted Hawaiian currency; ELECTRIC STORAGE BATTERY CO. v. SHIMADZU, 307 U.S. 616 (1939

"Hawaii Five O" on October 10, 2011 got into the business of overprinted currency in Hawaii in World War II.

From coinsite:

Because of the danger of a Japanese invasion of Hawaii in 1942, specially marked United States money was substituted for normal notes. These notes had brown serial numbers and treasury seal, and were overprinted on the back on the note with the word "Hawaii."

Wikipedia notes:

Faced with a $200 million stockpile of US currency, military officials opted to destroy all the recalled currency instead of overcoming the logistical problems of shipping the currency back to the mainland.[3][4][5][6] At first, a local crematorium[a] was pressed into service to burn the notes. To ensure complete destruction, a fine mesh was placed on the top of the smokestacks to catch and recirculate unburnt scraps of currency escaping the fire.[3]

**Also, contemplate ELECTRIC STORAGE BATTERY CO. v. SHIMADZU, 307 U.S. 616 (1939) , which begins

The courts below have held valid and infringed certain claims of three patents 1 granted to Genzo Shimadzu, a citizen and resident of Japan. The earliest is for a method of forming a finely divided and, consequently, more chemically reactive, lead powder. The second is for a method or process of manufacturing a fine powder composed of lead suboxide and metallic lead and for the product of [307 U.S. 616, 8] the process. The third is for an apparatus for the continuous production of lead oxides in the form of a dry fine powder. Such powder is useful in the manufacture of plates for storage batteries.

The bill was filed by the respondents as patentee and exclusive licensee. The answer denied that Shimadzu was the first inventor; asserted knowledge and use of the invention by the petitioner in the United States more than two years prior to the dates of the applications; and pleaded that earlier patents procured by Shimadzu in Japan avoided the United States patents as the former were for the same inventions and each was granted more than a year prior to the filing of the corresponding application in this country. The case was tried, the District Court found the facts, stated its conclusions, and entered a decree for the respondents,2 which the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. 3 The petitioner sought certiorari alleging that the case presents three questions, one which should be settled by this court and two which were decided below contrary to our adjudications.

The questions are: In an infringement suit by the owner of a patent for an invention, made but not patented or published abroad, to restrain an innocent use, the inception of which antedates the application for patent, may the plaintiff prove that his actual date of invention was earlier than the commencement of the asserted infringing use? Is the delay of the patentee in this case in applying for patent a bar to relief for alleged infringement? Does commercial use of the patented process and apparatus in the alleged infringer's plant for more than two years prior to the application for patent preclude redress? [307 U.S. 616, 9] No controversy of fact is involved as the petitioner concedes it must accept the concurrent findings of the courts below. 4 The relevant facts lie within a narrow compass.

The inventions which are the basis of the patents were conceived by Shimadzu and reduced to practise in Japan not later than August 1919. He did not disclose the inventions to anyone in the United States before he applied for United States patents. Application was presented for No. 1,584, 149 on January 30, 1922; for No. 1,584,150 on July 14, 1923; and for No. 1, 896,020 on April 27, 1926. The inventions were not patented or described in a printed publication in this or any foreign country prior to the filing of the applications. The petitioner, without knowledge of Shimadzu's inventions, began the use of a machine, which involved both the method and the apparatus of the patents, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in 1921 and attained commercial production in June 1921. Over the objection of the petitioner the respondents were permitted by testimony, and by the introduction of contemporaneous drawings and note books, to carry the date of invention back to August 1919, and the courts below fixed that as the date of invention and reduction to practise in Japan.


We have no way of knowing whether the discrimination results from inadvertence or from some undisclosed legislative policy, but, in order to redress the disadvantage under which one in the petitioner's situation suffers, we should have to read into the law words which plainly are missing. 16 We cannot thus rewrite the statute. 17 Moreover, Sections 4886 and 4887 have repeatedly been amended and other portions of the patent act have been revised and amended from time to time since the decisions pointing out that Section 4886 did not prevent the foreign inventor from carrying back his date of invention beyond the date of his application. Congress has not seen fit to amend the statute in this respect and we must assume that it has been satisfied with, and adopted, the construction given to its enactment by the courts. 18 [307 U.S. 616, 15] We are of opinion that the courts below were right in not limiting Shimadzu's date of invention to the date of his application but allowing him to show an earlier actual date.

So, in 1939, the Supreme Court interpreted the patent law to favor the Japanese inventor. In 1946, after World War II was over, Congress changed the law to overrule the Electric Storage Battery Case. The law was again changed, so the Electric Storage Battery case, if held in 2011, would come out the way it did in 1939. And the overprinted bills are collector's items.


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