This Day in 1914: U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Wright vs. Curtiss

U.S. patent issued to the Wright Brothers for a Flying Machine, May 22, 1906

U.S. patent issued to the Wright Brothers for a Flying Machine, May 22, 1906

On this day—January 13—in 1914, Orville Wright received some good news: the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier court decision stating that Glenn H. Curtiss and his aircraft company, the Herring-Curtiss Co., had infringed upon the Wrights’ 1906 patent for a “flying machine.”

The initial lawsuit was filed in 1909, after Curtiss ignored prior warnings from the Wrights not to sell or profit from his aircraft. The case contended that the Wrights’ patent applied to any¬†controlled flying machine, even though their design used wing-warping for this purpose, while Curtiss’s used ailerons. The decision in this original case, delivered in February 1913, was in favor of the Wrights.

Curtiss appealed the decision, but on January 13, 1914, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the original decision. Orville learned this news in a telegram from attorney Pliny Williamson. Two days later, Orville even received a congratulatory telegram from Glenn Curtiss himself!

We recently digitized several bound volumes of transcripts from these trials, and you can read full-text Wright Company patent litigation trial transcripts on CORE Scholar.

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