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tions, which it is not suggested that it did not perform or is not still performing, and one of which, the imparting of its secret information and improvements, it had performed under the original agreement, out of which the last contract sprang. The argument is put mainly on the construction of the clause quoted, coupled with the further argument that the United States ought not to be estopped as licensee to deny the validity of the patent because it is not a vendor but simply a user of the patented article, and therefore has not enjoyed the advantage of a practical monopoly, as a seller might have enjoyed it even if the patent turned out to be bad. This distinction between sale and use, even for a non-competitive purpose, does not impress us. So far as the practical advantage secured is matter for consideration, whether a thing made under a patent supposed to be valid, is used or sold, it equally may be assumed that the thing would not have been used or sold but for the license from the patentee. We regard the clause in the contract as the measure of the appellant's rights.
The words of the condition on which the payment of royalty was to cease, taken in their natural and literal sense, do not mean what the Government says. A plea of that condition, to satisfy the words “in case it should at any time be judicially decided” that the patent was bad, would have to be that it had been decided to that effect. It would not be enough to say that the defendant thought the patent bad, and would like to have the court decide so now. We see no reason to depart from the literal meaning of the words. It is argued that so construed they are very little good to the United States, since private persons would not use the armor plates, and the more the United States used them the larger would be the royalties which the company received, so that it would have no motive, even if it had a right, to sue the makers of the plate. It is answered that armor was made for foreign governments, and that the makers were sued by the claimants in good faith, although, as it turned out, the final decrees were entered by consent.
And it is argued on the other hand that the Government's construction would put the claimants at a great disadvantage, and would be giving up all benefit of the patent at the moment it was issued. We do not amplify the considerations of this sort on one side or the other. They are too uncertain to have much weight. The truth seems to be that the proviso is a more or less well-known and conventional one in licenses, Charter Gas Engine Co. v. Charter, 47 Ill. App. 36, 51, not a special contrivance for the special case, and that fact alone is enough to invalidate attempts to twist the meaning of the words to the interest of either side. The proviso was inserted, no doubt, on the assumption that a licensee, when sued for royalties, is estopped to deny the validity of the patent which he has been using, and to give him the benefit of litigation by or against third persons, notwithstanding that rule.
We have somewhat more difficulty with the other question mentioned. It is argued that the agreement was only to pay for the use of the process covered by the patent named, and that if the meaning of the parties was to cover anything broader than the patent, even what was known in their speech as the Harvey process, that meaning could be imported into the contract only by reformation, not by construction of the contract as it stands. But we are of opinion that this defense also must fail. In the first place, it is not fully open on the record. The findings asked had a different bearing. All that were asked might have been made without necessitating a judgment for the United States as matter of law and the court believed that the difference between patent and process was trivial. But we should hesitate to admit the defense in any event. The argument is that at the time of the contract it was supposed that the heat required for the process was greater than that actually used, that the patent was valid only for a process with the greater heat, and that the contract covers no more than the patent. But the fact that the parties assumed that the process used and intended to be used was covered by the patent, works both ways. It shows that they thought
and meant that the agreement covered and should cover the process actually used. We think that this can be gathered from the agreement itself apart from the mere supposition of the parties. The contract dealt with a process “known as the Harvey process.” It imported the speech of the parties and the common speech of the time into the description of the subject matter. The words, Harvey process, commonly are put in quotation marks in the first contract, thus emphasizing the adoption of common speech. They mean the process actually used. The contract states that it is dealing with the same thing that had been the subject of the former agreement. That agreement further identified that subject as a process which was tested at the Naval Ordnance Proving Ground. It also identified it, it is true, as a patented process, but, if the incompatibility of the two marks is more than trivial, as it was regarded by the court which found the facts with which we have to deal, the identification by personal familiarity and by common speech is more pungent and immediate than that by reference to a document couched in technical terms, which the very argument for the United States declares not to have been understood. It is like a reference to monuments in a deed. As we have said, this identification by personal experiment and by common speech is carried forward into the contract in suit. The latter contract manifests on its face that it is dealing with a process actually in use, which requires the communication of practical knowledge and which further experience may improve.
We have not thought it useful to do more than indicate the line of thought which leads us to the conclusion that the claimant must prevail. We have confined ourselves to the dry point of the law. It might have been enough to say even less and to affirm the judgment on the ground that the findings asked and refused, so far as they were not refused because not proved, were only grounds for further inferences, not a special verdict establishing the defense as matter of law. But the fuller the statement should be made the more fully it would
that the United States was dealing with a matter upon which it had all the knowledge that any one had, that it was contracting for the use of a process, which, however much it now may be impugned, the United States would not have used when it did but for the communications of the claimant, and that it was contracting for the process which it actually used-a process which has revolutionized the naval armor of the world.
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA.
No. 123. Argued Jauuary 12, 1905.-Decided January 23, 1905.
By chapter 99, March 9, 1903, Laws of North Dakota, the statutes in force
when plaintiff in error committed the crime for which he was tried, and when the verdict of guilty was pronounced were altered to the following effect: Close confinement in the penitentiary for not less than six or more than nine months after judgment and before execution was substituted for confinement in the county jail for not less than three nor more than six months after judgment and before execution, and hanging within an inclosure at the penitentiary by the warden or his deputy was substituted for hanging by the sheriff in the yard of the jail of the county in which
the conviction occurred. Held that the changes looked at in the light of reason and common sense are
to be taken as favorable to the plaintiff in error, and that a statute which mitigates the rigor of the law in force at the time the crime was com
mitted cannot be regarded as ex post facto with reference to that crime. Held that close confinement does not necess
essarily mean solitary confinement and the difference in phraseology between close confinement and confinement is immaterial, each only meaning such custody as will insure
the production of the criminal at the time set for execution. Held that the place of punishment by death within the limits of the State
is not of practical consequence to the criminal.
This writ of error brings in question a final judgment of the Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota, affirming the
judgment of an inferior court of that State, by which, pursuant to the verdict of a jury, the plaintiff in error, John Rooney, was sentenced to death for the crime of murder in the first degree.
The sole question upon which the plaintiff in error seeks the judgment of this court, and the only one that will be noticed, is whether the statute under which he was sentenced was ex post facto and therefore unconstitutional in its application to his case. His counsel agrees that the judgment must stand if the statute be constitutional.
Before as well as after the passage of the statute under which the sentence was pronounced the punishment prescribed by the State for murder in the first degree was death or imprisonment in the penitentiary for life. Rev. Codes, North Dakota, 1899, $ 7068.
By the statutes in force at the time of the commission of the offense, August 26, 1902, as well as when the verdict of guilty was rendered, it was provided that when a judgment of death is rendered the judge must deliver to the sheriff of the county a warrant stating the conviction and judgment, and appointing a day on which the judgment is to be executed, “which must not be less than three months after the day in which judgment is entered, and not longer than six months thereafter," $ 8305; that when there was no jail within the county, or whenever the officer having in charge any person under judgment of death deemed the jail of the county where the conviction was had insecure, unfit or unsafe for any cause, he could confine the convicted person in the jail of any other convenient county of the State, $ 8320; that the judgment of death should be executed within the walls or yard of the jail of the county in which the conviction was had, or within some convenient inclosure within such county, $ 8321; and that judgment of death must be executed by the sheriff of the county where the conviction was had, or by his deputy, one of whom at least must be present at the execution. Rev. Codes of North Dakota, 1899, § 8322.