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Opinion of the Court.
"Singer" in connection with machines manufactured or sold by him. Drummond, J., observed (p. 152):
"On a machine called 'the Singer Sewing Machine' there were various patents. These patents have all expired, and nothing can, therefore, be claimed under them. Other persons cannot be prevented from manufacturing a machine like the Singer sewing machine, and which may be called, to distinguish it from other machines, 'Singer's Sewing Machine.' If a sewing machine has acquired a name which designates a mechanism or a peculiar construction, parts of which are protected by patents, other persons, after the expiration of the patents, have the right to construct the machine and call it by that name, because that only expresses the kind and quality of the machine."
But in upholding the right a duty was also enjoined, the court adding (p. 153):
"While I hold that the defendant is not prevented from constructing a 'Singer Sewing Machine,' still, he cannot be permitted to do any act the necessary effect of which will be to intimate, or to make any one believe that the machine which he constructs and sells is manufactured by the plaintiff. Neither has he the right to use any device which may be properly considered a trade-mark, so as to induce the public to believe that his machine has been manufactured by the plaintiff; and, therefore, I shall modify the injunction in this case by simply requiring the defendant to refrain from selling any Singer sewing machines manufactured by any person or company other than the plaintiff, without indicating in some distinct manner that the said machines were not manufactured by the Singer Manufacturing Company."
In Singer Mfg. Co. v. Stanage, 6 Fed. Rep. 279, (1881,) Treat, district judge, said (p. 280):
"The plaintiff and its predecessors had, in connection with others, through patents, a monopoly as to certain sewing machines, known as the 'Singer machines.' When these patents expired every one had an equal right to make and vend such machines. If the patentees or their assignees could assert successfully an exclusive right to the name 'Singer' as a
Opinion of the Court.
trade-mark, they would practically extend the patent indefinitely."
The court entered into no discussion of the limitations resting on a party in the use of a name or designation dedicated to public use, because the facts rendered it unnecessary, the court saying (p. 282):
"Sixth. The distinctive names and devices of the plaintiff corporation were not used by the defendant, and no one of ordinary intelligence could suppose that the 'Stewart' manufacture was the manufacture of the plaintiff. Each had its distinctive and detailed names and devices, so that there was no probability that the machine made by one would be mistaken for the manufacture of the other."
In Singer Mfg. Co. v. Riley, 11 Fed. Rep. 706, (1882,) where a suit was brought to restrain the use of the word "Singer" by the defendant in connection with sewing machines, the preliminary injunction was refused, following the decision in the Stanage case. The court called attention to the fact that the word "Singer" was not used on defendant's machines. It made no ruling as to the duty of the defendant to so use the name "Singer" as not to deceive, because it found that the defendant's devices were not calculated to mislead.
In Brill v. Singer Mfg. Co., 41 Ohio St. 127, (1884,) it was held (pp. 137, et seq.) that as Singer machines had been protected by patents and during the existence of such patents became known and identified in the trade by their shape, external appearance or ornamentation, the patentee could not, after the expiration of the patent, prevent others from using the same modes of identification, in machines of the same kind, manufactured and sold by them. It was also held that the Singer machines had become known to the public by a distinctive name during the existence of the patent, and that any one at the expiration of the patent might make and vend such machines and use such name.
It would appear that the name "Singer" had not been, directly or indirectly, marked upon the machines. It might also be inferred from the report of the case that the designation of defendant's machine was accompanied by a statement as to
Opinion of the Court.
who was the manufacturer. At all events, the court did not discuss the obligation of the defendant to avoid misleading, since, under the facts, the question did not arise.
In Gally v. Colt's Patent Firearms Mfg. Co., 30 Fed. Rep. 118, (1887,) it was held that the name "Universal," applied by a patentee to his patented printing press, upon the expiration of the patent could not be appropriated by the inventor as a trade-mark, Shipman, J., said (p. 122) :
"Any manufacturer, who uses the name now, does so to show that he manufactures the Gally press, which he may rightfully do, and does not represent to the public that it is getting any skill or excellence of workmanship which Gally possessed, and does not induce it to believe that the presses are manufactured by the plaintiff."
The machines manufactured by the defendant, upon which was stamped the name "Universal," also bore the name of their maker.
Merriam v. Holloway Pub. Co., 43 Fed. Rep. 450, (1890,) involved the right of the defendants to use the words "Webster's Dictionary" in connection with a reprint of the 1847 edition of that work upon which the copyright had expired. Mr. Justice Miller, in the opinion delivered by him, said (p. 451):
"I want to say, however, with reference to the main issue in the case, that it occurs to me that this proceeding is an attempt to establish the doctrine that a party who has had the copyright of a book until it has expired, may continue that monopoly indefinitely, under the pretence that it is protected by a trade-mark, or something of that sort. I do not believe in any such doctrine, nor do my associates. When a man takes out a copyright for any of his writings or works, he impliedly agrees that, at the expiration of that copyright, such writings or works shall go to the public and become public property. I may be the first to announce that doctrine, but I announce it without any hesitation. If a man is entitled to an extension of his copyright, he may obtain it by the mode pointed out by law. The law provides a method of obtaining such extension. The copyright law gives an author or proprietor a monopoly of the sale of his writings
Opinion of the Court.
for a definite period, but the grant of a monopoly implies that, after the monopoly has expired, the public shall be entitled ever afterwards to the unrestricted use of the book." And the justice further observed (p. 452):
"The contention that complainants have any special property in Webster's Dictionary' is all nonsense, since the copyright has expired. What do they mean by the expression 'their book,' when they speak of Webster's Dictionary? It may be their book if they have bought it, as a copy of Webster's Dictionary is my book if I have bought it. But in no other sense than that last indicated can the complainants say of Webster's Dictionary that it is their book."
Although the right to use the words was thus adjudged, the duty not to deceive by the method of their employment was upheld and enforced, the court saying (p. 451):
"Now, taking all these allegations together, there may be some evidence of a fraudulent intent on defendants' part to get the benefit of the reputation of the edition of Webster's Dictionary which the complainants are publishing, and it may possibly be that, in consequence of the facts averred, the public are deceived and that the complainants are damaged to some extent. We think, therefore, that this is one of those cases where, as the facts are stated in the complaint, the interests of justice would be best subserved by requiring the defendants to answer, so that there may be a full and fair investigation of the law and facts upon a final hearing."
In Merriam v. Famous Shoe & Clothing Co., 47 Fed. Rep. 411, a ruling similar to that announced by Mr. Justice Miller was made. But although the right to use the word "Webster's Dictionary" was sustained, the obligation to so use as not to mislead was again stated, Thayer, J., saying (p. 414):
"It is unnecessary at this time to determine what form of relief should be administered, if the allegations of the bill are proven on final hearing. It may be that some change in the form of defendant's circulars and advertisements will be all the relief that the circumstances of the case fairly warrant; or it may be that the proof will warrant an order that the defendant place a notice in their book that it is a reprint
Opinion of the Court.
of the edition of 1847 of Webster's Dictionary, with such additions as they may have made to it. This is a matter, however, to be considered on final hearing, when the exact nature of the injury and the causes that mislead the public, are ascertained. It is sufficient to say at present that, on the showing made, the complainants are entitled to relief, and the demurrer to the bill is accordingly overruled."
The principles thus maintained by the American cases are also supported by the English decisions.
In Wheeler & Wilson Mfg. Co. v. Shakespear, 39 L. J. Ch. 36, (1869,) Vice-Chancellor James refused to enjoin the use of the name of Wheeler & Wilson as a designation in advertisements of machines dealt in by the defendant. The advertisements of the defendant clearly indicated, however, that the machines in question were not manufactured by the plaintiffs. He said (p. 40):
"I could not restrain the defendant from using the words 'Wheeler & Wilson' as descriptive of any sewing machine other than the sewing machine manufactured by the plaintiffs. It appeared to me that 'Wheeler & Wilson' was really not the name of the manufacturer or the name of the company, either abbreviated or otherwise, but the name of the thing in particular. As the plaintiff's bill represents it, it is called 'The Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machine,' and there being no other designation for this particular machine, one can easily understand that that was the name of the patentee or the person who at one time had the patent, for I take it that Wheeler & Wilson are not really the patentees' names, because the allegation in the bill is that they became entitled to the letters-patent. It seems to me that the name 'Wheeler & Wilson' machine has come to signify the thing manufactured according to the principle of that patent. That being so, I cannot restrain anybody, after the expiration of the patent, from representing his article as being the article which was so patented. A man cannot prolong his monopoly by saying 'I have got a trade-mark in the name of a thing which was the subject of the patent,' and, therefore, to that extent I think the plaintiffs are not entitled to the relief they ask."