L. E. Waterman Co. v. Modern Pen Co. - 235 U.S. 88 (1914)
U.S. Supreme Court
L. E. Waterman Co. v. Modern Pen Co., 235 U.S. 88 (1914)
L. E. Waterman Company v. Modern Pen Company
Nos. 54, 72
Argued November 10, 1914
Decided November 30, 1914
235 U.S. 88
When the use of his own name upon his goods by a later competitor will and does lead the public to understand that such goods are the product of a concern already established and well known under that name, and when the profit of the confusion is known to, and, if that be material, is intended by the later man, the law will require him to take reasonable precautions to prevent the mistake. Herring-Hall Marvin Co. v. Hall's Safe Co., 208 U. S. 554.
There is no distinction between corporations and natural persons in the above principle, which is one to prevent a fraud.
All the protection which a manufacturer is entitled to get against a later person of the same name manufacturing similar goods is to require the later person to so use his name in marking his goods that they cannot be confused with the earlier manufacturer, and this
though one of the motive of the later person was to obtain an advantage by the use of his own name.
While the transfer of a person's name without any business may not be enough to entitle the transferee to prevent others from using the name, it still is a license that may be sufficient to put the licensee on the footing of the licensor against another party of the same name.
Two courts below having upheld arrangements as effective in giving a licensee of the right to use a name the same protection which the licensor would have had as against another party of the same name, this Court will not go into any consideration of the facts on which such arrangement was based.
197 F. 534, 536, affirmed on cross-appeals with cost equally divided between both parties.
The facts, which involve the use of the name Waterman in connection with the manufacture and sale of fountain pens, are stated in the opinion.