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Statement of the Case.
SINGER MANUFACTURING COMPANY v. JUNE MANUFACTURING COMPANY.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS.
No. 6. Argued October 16, 17, 1894. Decided May 18, 1996.
The Singer machines were covered by patents, some fundamental, some accessory, whereby there was given to them a distinctive character and form which caused them to be known as the Singer machines, as deviating and separable from the form and character of machines made by other manufacturers.
The word "Singer" was adopted by Singer & Co. or the Singer Manufacturing Company as designative of their distinctive style of machines, rather than as solely indicating the origin of manufacture.
The patents which covered them gave to the manufacturers of the Singer sewing machines a substantial monopoly whereby the name "Singer" came to indicate the class and type of machines made by that company or corporation, and constituted their generic description, and conveyed to the public mind the machines made by them.
On the expiration of the patent the right to make the patented article and to use the generic name passed to the public with the dedication resulting from the expiration of the patent.
On the expiration of a patent one who uses a generic name, by which articles manufactured under it are known, may be compelled to indicate that the articles made by him are made by him and not by the proprietors of the extinct patent.
Where, during the life of a monopoly created by a patent, a name, whether it be arbitrary or be that of the inventor, has become, by his consent, either express or tacit, the identifying and generic name of the thing patented, this name passes to the public with the cessation of the monopoly which the patent created; and where another avails himself of this public dedication to make the machine and use the generic desigcation, he can do so in all forms, with the fullest liberty, by affixing such name to the machines, by referring to it in advertisements and by other means, subject, however, to the condition that the name must be so used as not to deprive others of their rights or to deceive the public, and, therefore, that the name must be accompanied with such indications that the thing manufactured is the work of the one making it, as will unmistakably inform the public of that fact.
THE Singer Manufacturing Company, a corporation organized under the laws of the State of New Jersey, filed its bill
Statement of the Case.
in equity in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois against the June Manufacturing Company, an Illinois corporation.
The bill alleged that the complainant was engaged in the manufacture of sewing machines, and had an exclusive right to the word "Singer" as a trade name and "designation" for such sewing machines; it averred that defendant, for the purpose of inducing the belief that sewing machines manufactured and sold by it were made by the complainant, was making and selling machines of the exact size, shape, ornamentation and general external appearance as the machines manufactured by complainant; that the defendant was imitating a described trade-mark which the complainant had for many years placed upon its machines; that it was imitating "devices" cast by complainant in the legs of the stands of the machines manufactured and sold by it; and that the defendant advertised the machines, by it made, by means of cuts and prints, imitations of the cuts and prints made by complainant and representations of the machines manufactured by complainant. An accounting for the profits received by defendant was prayed, as also an injunction to restrain the use by defendant in its business of the word "Singer " as a designation of the machines manufactured by it, and to restrain a continuation of its other alleged wrongful practices.
In its answer, the defendant denied that it had attempted to avail itself of the complainant's "representation " and trade name, or that in anything done by it, it had sought to induce the belief that the machines manufactured and sold by it were manufactured by the complainant, and alleged that the form, size, shape and appearance of its machine were public property, and not the exclusive property of the complainant. It was averred that the defendant constructed its machines on the principles of machines which had been protected by letters-patent, held by the Singer Company, by license or otherwise, but which patents had long since expired, and that the name "Singer" was the generic name of such machines. The defendant admitted that it affixed an oval plate to its machines, but claimed that the device placed by it thereon
Statement of the Case.
was dissimilar to that used by the complainant, and averred that the words "Improved Singer," stamped on such plate, was the correct name of the machine. It was also averred that while formerly an elaborate monogram was placed on said plate, composed of the letters "S. M. Co.," being the initials of the "Standard Manufacturing Company," (a former corporate name of defendant,) that the monogram now placed upon said plate was "J. M. Co." It was also claimed that the device on the legs of the stands of machines manufactured by the defendant was not an imitation of that employed by complainant upon its machines, but that on the contrary the device used by the defendant was adopted by it to prevent confusion in the minds of the public as to the manufacture of the machines.
It appeared from the evidence that the construction of the Singer sewing machines was commenced in 1850, in the latter part of which year the firm of I. M. Singer & Co. was formed. Witnesses testified that the firm named made and introduced the first practical sewing machine. I. M. Singer & Co. continued in the business of manufacturing sewing machines until June, 1863, when that firm transferred all its assets, property, patents and good will to the Singer Manufacturing Company, a corporation formed under the laws of the State of New York, and the manufacture of Singer sewing machines was continued by that corporation. In the year 1873 a new corporation, known also as the Singer Manufacturing Company, was organized under the laws of New Jersey, to which corporation the New York concern transferred its assets. The stockholders in both companies were the same, and the business of the New York corporation has ever since been continued by the New Jersey corporation.
The original members of the firm of I. M. Singer & Co.I. M. Singer and Edward Clark-were the principal stockholders of both corporations, and on their death, in 1875 and 1882, respectively, their interests passed to their children and grandchildren, who yet are among the principal stockholders of the concern. During the existence of the firm of I. M. Singer & Co., and the life of its successor, the New York
Statement of the Case.
association, the domicil of both was in New York, and after the creation of the New Jersey corporation that company also carried on the business through a general office in New York City.
Machines of various patterns were constructed by the firm and the corporations, intended both for domestic purposes and for use in manufacturing. The differences in the arrangement of varying types of these machines were in some respect essential, and extended to many, but not all, of the mechanical principles employed, although all the machines were in certain particulars covered by a few fundamental patents of which the corporations were owners or licensees. None of the machines, however, were patented as a whole.
The patent to Elias Howe, granted September 10, 1846, and which remained in force until 1867, covered the use of the eye pointed needle in combination with a shuttle and automatic feed. A patent issued to John Bachelder in 1849, and which remained in force until about 1877, covered the principle of a continuous feed. The firm of I. M. Singer & Co. purchased this patent, and it subsequently passed to their corporate successors. A third important patent utilized in the machines was one issued in 1851 to Allen B. Wilson, for a feeding bar. This extended patent expired in 1872. The Singer Manufacturing Company became a part owner of this latter patent.
The use of the patents of Howe and Bachelder were not confined to the Singer machines, but were employed under license by manufacturers of other sewing machines, where an automatic feed was employed.
Nearly one hundred other patents relating to sewing machine mechanism and attachments to sewing machines were owned or controlled from time to time by the Singer firm or its corporate successors, and among those owned by them were "a vibrating presser, thread guide, binders, embroidery attachments," etc. The use of some of these was early discontinued, and others have been and are still in general use by the Singer Company on machines made by it, and some were used under license by other manufacturers.
Statement of the Case.
Whilst it is true that all the patented inventions owned or controlled by the Singer Company were not all used on every type of Singer machine, it is also true that all Singer sewing machines contained some features of some of these inventions which to that extent distinguished them from machines made by others of a similar class. Among the machines made by the Singer corporation, for general domestic use, was one by it styled the "Singer New Family Machine."
These Singer "New Family" machines were intended to take the place of a machine which had theretofore been known as Old Family and letter A machines, and were first sold in the spring or winter of 1866. The New Family machine was essentially different in form and appearance and in some of the mechanical principles employed, from machines of other manufacturers used for similar purposes, and formed a distinctive Singer machine.
Some of its parts were covered by patents. It passed into very general use, and its sale formed a large part of the business of the corporation.
On the front or top of the arm of the machines made by the Singer firm was marked the name "I. M. Singer & Co.," and on those constructed by the corporations the words "The Singer Mfg. Co." At infrequent periods, prior to 1877, the successors of I. M. Singer & Co. marked upon various styles of their machines, sometimes upon the treadle and again on the arm of the machine, the name "Singer" alone, but even where this was done the corporate name of the company was always somewhere affixed to the machines. Some few years before the Bachelder patent expired the Singer Company began, in addition to the name of the corporation, as above stated, to affix to all its sewing machines, of every grade, a trade-mark, which device consisted of a shuttle, two needles crossed with a line of cotton in the form of a letter "S," with a bobbin underneath. This device was placed in the centre of an ellipse. Surrounding the upper half of the device were the words "THE SINGER MFG. CO., N.Y.," and underneath it were the words "Trade Mark;" beneath those words a wreath of flowers. This trade-mark was stamped on a brass