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Krag-Jorgensen at the Supreme Court

Posted: Thu Nov 18, 2021 2:39 am
by butlersrangers
Russell v. U.S. (1901)

Major William R. Livermore, U.S. Army, and Captain Andrew H. Russell, Ordnance Department - U.S. Army, were an inventive pair of Officers.
They combined their efforts in the design of a bolt rifle, U.S. Patent 230,823 (1880).

They submitted their rifle design for government rifle trials in the early 1880's and 1890's. They also submitted a 6mm cal. rifle at the Navy trials in the 1890's.
Their rifle design was rejected, but, elements of their patent may appear in the Krag-Jorgensen feed system.
Captain Andrew H. Russell brought a law suit against the U.S. Government that was argued before the Supreme Court in 1901.

It appears their suit was denied on legal technicalities and not the validity of their claim. They appear to have been given a runaround by the Patent Office and Ordnance Department.
(If I understand correctly, they were advised by the Supreme Court to seek redress in a lower court, under Torte Law).

BTW - Captain Andrew H. Russell played a major role in organizing the War Department's Arms Displays at the 1888 Cincinnati Exhibition and the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition.
He also devised the clever bore-mirror for the 'Trap-Door' Springfield.

Link to the legal case:

The attached Russell-Livermore Rifle drawings are as clear as mud, to me!
The 'orange circled' magazine drawing appears to operate horizontally? In that plane, FWIW, it looks vaguely like a Krag-Jorgensen feed.
There is another magazine that appears to operate on an incline with a sheet-metal housing.

There were two Russell-Livermore rifles submitted for the 1892 Ordnance Department trials.
There were three Russell-Livermore rifles submitted to the board for the 1893 tests.

The test report, in Brophy's book, "The Krag Rifle", page 14: "Nos. 9, 10, and 11. - All with magazine upon the Russell-Livermore pattern,
but with the receiver and entire bolt mechanism the same as on the Lee-Speed, Mark I, of England.
The magazines are of the same general design, differing somewhat in the details of construction. All are awkward to load and operate.

Re: Krag-Jorgensen at the Supreme Court

Posted: Thu Nov 18, 2021 8:32 am
by butlersrangers
The Russell 1880 Patent, #230,823, appears to illustrate many variations of 'straight-pull bolt' mechanisms.
(No models were submitted with his extensive drawings and patent write-up).

The Russell-Livermore rifles, submitted to the 1892 and 1893 Ordnance Department Boards for trial, are reported to have a receiver and bolt like the Lee-Speed, which is a 'turn-bolt' rifle.

Attached - some of the 1880 patent:

Re: Krag-Jorgensen at the Supreme Court

Posted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:27 am
by Knute1
Here is reference to the claim by Russell and Livermore starting on page 121. The contract the Government had with Krag-Jorgensen basically put it on them to defend/pay for any patent infringements and basically held the Government harmless. ... rt&f=false

Re: Krag-Jorgensen at the Supreme Court

Posted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:03 pm
by butlersrangers
It does not appear Russell and Livermore ever got a ruling on the merits of their patent infringement claim.
The Ordnance Department and Patent Office both appear to have said they could not determine the claim and the recourse was in court.

The Supreme Court majority appears to say that they cannot rule on the matter, because it is in the wrong court and they don't have jurisdiction.

Russell and Livermore were simply seeking some type of arbitration and financial settlement if their claim was valid.

I am neither a Lawyer or Engineer, but, if I get it, Russell and Livermore believed their patent was infringed by two and maybe three Krag features.

1. Cartridges passing down and then across the bottom of the receiver, under a 'bridge', and then up.
2. A slight area of the rim of a cartridge being exposed, caught by a reciprocating bolt, and moved forward to a widening opening for entry into a chamber.
3. Maybe some angles and bumps in the feed of cartridges in the Krag action were present in the Russell patent drawings?

(My personal opinion is that the Russell-Livermore claim was likely pretty weak and possibly the concepts were around prior to their 1880 patent).
It would have been neat if their claims had been reviewed by qualified and impartial parties.

Re: Krag-Jorgensen at the Supreme Court

Posted: Fri Nov 26, 2021 9:05 am
by butlersrangers
A concise summary of the Supreme Court ruling.