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Scheidenhelm invention could help resolve patent lawsuit

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 27th, 2012

Attorney Bill Ragland hopes someone can provide information about the dates of production of this Minneapolis-Moline Type 335 Tractor and the attached Hume Model S TractorRower. Anyone with dated material regarding this equipment could help decide the outcome of a patent infringement lawsuit. (Photo contributed)

MENDOTA - In 1957, a patent for a "Harvester Platform Support Linkage" was issued to E.L. (Earl Louis) Scheidenhelm and then assigned to Horace D. Hume, both of Mendota. Now more than 50 years later, that piece of antique farm equipment could be key evidence in a patent infringement lawsuit. But first, some dated record or memory of this mower's existence must be found and Mendotans are being asked for their help in that regard.

Atlanta attorney Bill Ragland with the law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP said he is looking for dated evidence that the Hume Model S TractorRower was actually produced and on the market or at least in trial use. "We're looking for any written material that's dated - brochures, advertisements, photographs, manuals, sales invoices or receipts," Ragland said. "We would also like to speak with anyone who may have owned or remembers this particular mower or with someone who has this actual mower."

Although research by the law firm has turned up a brochure for the Hume Model S TractorRower and a photograph of this mower attached to a Minneapolis-Moline tractor, the brochure and picture are not dated. Ragland said he would also be interested in written information about the dates of production of the Minneapolis-Moline 335 Tractor, which might help to date the photograph they obtained.

Ragland's client, German farm implement manufacturer Fella-Werke GmbH, is a subsidiary of AGCO, which manufactures and sells the Massey Ferguson and Challenger brands, among many others. Fella-Werke GmbH was sued in Germany under a patent filed in 1988, which claims to have invented a certain four-bar support linkage connecting the mower to the tractor. Ragland said the Hume Model S TractorRower had a nearly identical structure, and he believes the German patent was improperly issued. "We are challenging the validity of the German patent. We firmly believe the implement claimed in the German patent was actually invented in Mendota by Mr. Scheidenhelm - and produced by H.D. Hume - more than 30 years before the German patent was ever filed," he said.

Ragland said the Hume Model S TractorRower was produced locally during the late 1950s and early 1960s by H.D. Hume. Many decades later, Ragland hopes someone may still remember that period of Mendota manufacturing history or have some type of written record about the implement. "We need some help from your community in tracking down information that would prove the German patent is invalid and not novel."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Bill Ragland at (404) 888-7466 or wragland@wcsr.com.

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