Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order v. Michaux
279 U.S. 737 (1929)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order v. Michaux, 279 U.S. 737 (1929)

Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order v.

Michaux of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine

No. 7

Argued January 12, 13, 1928

Decided June 3, 1929

279 U.S. 737

Syllabus

In a suit in a state court in which a fraternal order, of white members only, sought an injunction against a similar order, of negro members only, to restrain the latter from further use of a name, constitution, designations, letters, emblems, and regalia like those earlier adopted and in use by the former, the defendant challenged the plaintiff's claim of an exclusive and superior right; set up its own claim of right to do the things complained of, both on general principles and particularly in virtue of its incorporation, in the District of Columbia, under an Act of Congress, and further defended on the ground that the plaintiff, by reason of laches and acquiescence, was without right to an injunction or other equitable relief. The state court, while not wholly refusing to recognize the federal right, sustained the position of the plaintiff, putting its decision on principles of general law, and granted the injunction, overruling the claim of laches upon the ground that the defendants had been proceeding with a fraudulent purpose of appropriating the benefits of the plaintiff order to themselves.

Held:

1. Whether the federal right set up in the state court was denied, or not given due recognition, is a question on which the claimants are entitled to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court on certiorari. P. 279 U. S. 744.

2. It is the province of this Court to inquire not only whether the right was denied in direct terms, but also whether it was denied in substance and effect by interposing a nonfederal ground of decision having no fair support. P. 279 U. S. 745.

3. Assuming (without deciding) that the state court was right in holding the rules relating to the use of trademarks and tradenames applicable to such controversies between fraternal orders, the white order in this case, if there was either laches or acquiescence on its part, was without right to object to the use which it was seeking to restrain, and the negro order was entitled to continue that use in virtue of its incorporation under the Act-of Congress. P. 279 U. S. 746.

Page 279 U. S. 738

4. The record disclose not only that the finding on the question of laches is without fair support in the evidence, but that the evidence conclusively refutes it. P. 279 U. S. 746.

5. The circumstances were such that this laches bar the white order from asserting an exclusive right, or seeking equitable relief, against the negro order. P. 279 U. S. 748.

6. As it is apparent that, had this view of the question of laches prevailed in the state court, the federal right set up by the negro order must have been sustained, the decree must be reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings. P. 279 U. S. 749.

286 S.W. 176 reversed.

Certiorari, 273 U. S. 60, to review a decree of the Supreme Court of Texas sustaining a decree of injunction in a suit between two fraternal orders. See also 273 S.W. 874.

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