In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to William W. Belknap, 13 December 1871

Date: December 13, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.03528

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, John Schwaninger, Anthony Dreesen, and Melanie Krupa

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Dec. 13, 1871.

Hon. Wm. W. Belknap,

Secretary of War.


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th inst. with the accompanying papers, in reference to an expected suit against William S. Hansell and Sons for an alleged infringement of a patent right in the manufacture of knapsacks for the United States, under a contract. You submit the propriety of directing the District Attorney to take the necessary steps to protect the interests of the United States in the matter.

The propriety of an appearance in the case by the law officers of the Government seems to me to depend entirely upon the question whether the Government is answerable for the royalty of fifty cents a knapsack, claimed from the contractors by the inventor.

You transmit a copy of the bid, from which it appears that the bidders expected the Government to settle with the inventor, if a royalty should be paid.                The liability of the Government, however, is to be determined, not by the bid, but by the contract. And I cannot act advisedly without knowing the contents of the contract, and will thank you for a copy of the same.

Very respectfully,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

concerning certain suit ag't Wm. S. Hansell & Sons


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