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G. & C. MERRIAM COMPANY v. SYNDICATE PUBLISHING COMPANY.

decided: June 1, 1915.

G. & C. MERRIAM COMPANY
v.
SYNDICATE PUBLISHING COMPANY.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

Author: Day

[ 237 U.S. Page 619]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

This suit was brought by complainant to enjoin the defendant from the use of the name "Webster" as a trade-mark and trade-name, when applied to the sale of dictionaries of the English language. A decree was entered dismissing the bill in the United States District Court (207 Fed. Rep. 515). This decree was affirmed upon appeal

[ 237 U.S. Page 620]

     to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (207 Fed. Rep. 515), and from the latter decree an appeal was taken to this court.

The original bill set up at great length the origin and history of the Webster dictionary publications, the succession of the complainant to the ownership of the rights of publication, and the various copyrights which had been taken out from time to time to protect the use of the name "Webster," as applied to dictionaries of the English language, and facts were set out in detail concerning the various publications which the complainant and its predecessors had made from time to time. The bill, in its original form, relied upon the secondary meaning which, it was alleged, the history of the publications had established in the name "Webster," as applied to English dictionaries, and it was alleged that the exclusive right to use that name in such connection had become the property of the complainant, and entitled it to protection against those who used the word in such manner as to cause their publications to be purchased as and for the publications of the complainant. It was charged that the respondent belonged to the class of persons wrongfully using the name thus acquired, and facts in detail were set forth to support this contention of unfair competition in trade. After the bill was filed an amendment was added setting up the ownership in complainant of certain trade-marks, duly registered in the Patent Office of the United States, in accordance with the statutes in such case made and provided. The amendment alleges the registration of two trade-marks under the Act of Mar. 3, 1881 (c. 138, 21 Stat. 502), and of eight trade-marks under the Act of Fed. 20, 1905 (c. 592, 33 Stat. 724), and it was charged that the defendant used and imitated the complainant's trade-marks upon Webster's dictionaries, by affixing the word "Webster" to dictionaries in a manner closely imitating complainant's registered trade-marks or one of

[ 237 U.S. Page 621]

     them, the natural tendency of such acts being to deceive the public and to pass off defendant's dictionaries as and for the dictionaries of the complainant. The prayer of the bill was amended so as to ask relief by injunction against the defendant from in any manner copying, imitating, or infringing any of complainant's registered trade-marks. The bill as amended therefore rested upon (1) allegations tending to establish unfair competition in trade, (2) trade-marks registered under the Act of 1881, and (3) trade-marks registered under the Act of 1905.

A motion to dismiss the appeal was made and passed for consideration to the argument upon the merits, which has now been had.

The Circuit Court of Appeals' decree, affirming the decree of the District Court, was final unless, in addition to the allegations of diverse citizenship which were contained in the bill, there was an averment of a cause of action and consequent basis of jurisdiction arising under the Constitution or statutes of the United States. Macfadden v. United States, 213 U.S. 288; Shulthis v. McDougal, 225 U.S. 561. If the jurisdiction of the District Court was invoked on the ground of diversity of citizenship, and the averment as to a right arising under the Federal Constitution or statutes was unsubstantial and without real merit, either because of its frivolous character upon its face, or from the fact that reliance was based upon a claim of Federal or statutory right denied by former adjudications of this court, then the appeal to this court must be dismissed. Newburyport Water Co. v. Newburyport, 193 U.S. 561, 576; Equitable Life Assurance Society v. Brown, 187 U.S. 308, 311.

So far as concerns the allegations of unfair competition in trade, upon which the bill mainly rests, such averments contain no element of a cause of action arising under the Federal Constitution or statutory law. The registered trade-marks, an essential part of which covers the use of

[ 237 U.S. Page 622]

     the word "Webster" as applied to dictionaries of the English language, were registered some under the Act of 1881 and some under the Act of 1905. In the latter act there is a recognition of the right to obtain a trade-mark upon a proper name, when the same has been in use for ten years under conditions named in the statute. That act was before this court in Thaddeus Davids Co. v. Davids, 233 U.S. 461, and the distinction between it and former acts was pointed out, particularly in that the Act of 1905 gave the right to the use of ordinary surnames as a trade-mark, which right did not exist under the ...


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