"Whether Goebel made the fiddle-bow lamps, 1, 2, and 3, is not necessary to determine. The weight of evidence on this motion is in the direction that he made these lamp or lamps similar in general appearance, though it is manifest that few, if any, of the many witnesses who saw the Goebel lamp could form an accurate judgment of the size of the filament or burner. But assuming they were made, they do not anticipate the invention of Edison. At most they were experimental toys used to advertise his telescope, or to flash a light upon his clock, or to attract customers to his shop. They were crudely constructed, and their life was brief. They could not be used for domestic purposes. They were in no proper sense the practical commercial lamp of Edison. The literature of the art is full of better lamps, all of which are held not to anticipate the Edison patent.
"As for Lamp No. 4, I cannot but view it with suspicion. It presents a new appearance. The reason given for not introducing it before the hearing is unsatisfactory. This lamp, to my mind, envelops with a cloud of distrust the whole Goebel story. It is simply impossible under the circumstances to believe that a lamp so constructed could have been made by Goebel before 1872. Nothing in the evidence warrants such a sup- position, and other things show it to be untrue. This lamp has a carbon filament, platinum leading-in wires, a good vacuum, and is well sealed and highly finished. It is said that this lamp shows no traces of mercury in the bulb because the mercury was distilled, but Goebel says nothing about distilled mercury in his first affidavit, and twice he speaks of the particles of mercury clinging to the inside of the chamber, and for that reason he constructed a Geissler pump after he moved to 468 Grand Street, which was in 1877. Again, if this lamp has been in his possession since before 1872, as he and his son swear, why was it not shown to Mr. Crosby, of the American Company, when he visited his shop in 1881 and was much interested in his lamps? Why was it not shown to Mr. Curtis, the leading counsel for the defendants in the New York cases, when he was asked to produce a lamp and promised to do so? Why did not his son take this lamp to Mr. Bull's office in 1892, when he took the old fiddle-bow lamps, 1, 2, and 3? Why did not his son take this lamp to Mr. Eaton's office in 1882, when he tried to negotiate the sale of his father's inventions to the Edison Company? A lamp so constructed and made before 1872 was worth a large sum of money to those interested in defeating the Edison patent like the American Company, and Goebel was not a rich man. Both he and one of his sons were employed in 1881 by the American Company. Why did he not show this lamp to McMahon when he called in the interest of the American Company and talked over the electrical matters? When Mr. Dreyer tried to organize a company in 1882, and procured an option from him of all his inventions relating to electric lighting for which $925 was paid, and when an old lamp of this kind was of vital consequence and would have insured a fortune, why was it not forthcoming? Mr. Dreyer asked Goebel to produce an old lamp, and was especially anxious to find one pending his negotiations with the Edison Company for the sale of Goebel's inventions. Why did he not produce this lamp in his interviews with Bohm, of the American Company, or Moses, of the Edison Company, when it was for his interest to do so? The value of such an anticipation of the Edison lamp was made known to him. He was desirous of realizing upon his inventions. He was proud of his incandescent lamps, and was pleased to talk about them with anybody who would listen. Is it conceivable under all these circumstances, that he should have had this all-important lamp in his possession from 1872 to 1893, and yet no one have heard of it or seen it except his son? It cannot be said that ignorance of the English language offers an excuse. He knew English very well although Bohm and Dreyer conversed with him in German. His children spoke English. Neither his ignorance nor his simplicity prevented him from taking out three patents: the first in 1865 for a sewing-machine hemmer, and the last in 1882 for an improvement in incandescent lamps. If he made Lamp No. 4 previous to 1872, why was it not also patented?
"There are other circumstances which throw doubt on this alleged Goebel anticipation. The suit against the United States Electric Lighting Company was brought in the Southern District of New York in 1885. Large interests were at stake, and the main defence to the Edison patent was based on prior inventions. This Goebel claim was then investigated by the leading counsel for the defence, Mr. Curtis. It was further inquired into in 1892, in the case against the Sawyer-Man Company. It was brought to the attention and considered by the Edison Company in 1882. It was at that time known to the American Company, who hoped by this means to defeat the monopoly under the Edison patent. Dreyer tried to organize a company for its purchase. Young Goebel tried to sell it. It must have been known to hundreds of people. And now when the Edison Company after years of litigation, leaving but a short time for the patent to run, have obtained a final adjudication establishing its validity, this claim is again resurrected to defeat the operation of the judgment so obtained. A court in equity should not look with favor on such a defence. Upon the evidence here presented, I agree with the first impression of Mr. Curtis and with the opinion of Mr. Dickerson that whatever Goebel did must be considered as an abandoned experiment.
"It has often been laid down that a meritorious invention is not to be defeated by something which rests in speculation or experiment, or which is rudimentary or incomplete.
"The law requires not conjecture, but certainty. It is easy after an important invention has gone into public use for persons to come forward with claims that they invented the same thing years before, and to endeavor to establish this by the recollection of witnesses as to events long past. Such evidence is to be received with great caution, and the presumption of novelty arising from the grant of the patent is not to be overcome except upon clear and convincing proof.
"When the defendant company entered upon the manufacture of incandescent lamps in May, 1891, it well knew the consequences which must follow a favorable decision for the Edison Company in the New York case."
Other courts took practically the same view of the Goebel story as was taken by Judge Colt, and the injunctions asked in behalf of the Edison interests were granted on all applications except one in St. Louis, Missouri, in proceedings instituted against a strong local concern of that city.
Thus, at the eleventh hour in the life of this important patent, after a long period of costly litigation, Edison and his associates were compelled to assume the defensive against a claimant whose utterly baseless pretensions had already been thoroughly investigated and rejected years before by every interested party, and ultimately, on examination by the courts, pronounced legally untenable, if not indeed actually fraudulent. Irritating as it was to be forced into the position of combating a proposition so well known to be preposterous and insincere, there was nothing else to do but to fight this fabrication with all the strenuous and deadly earnestness that would have been brought to bear on a really meritorious defence. Not only did this Goebel episode divert for a long time the energies of the Edison interests from activities in other directions, but the cost of overcoming the extravagantly absurd claims ran up into hundreds of thousands of dollars.