Independent Wireless Tel. Co. v. Radio Corp.,
269 U.S. 459 (1926)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Independent Wireless Tel. Co. v. Radio Corp., 269 U.S. 459 (1926)

Independent Wireless Telegraph Company v.

Radio Corporation of America

No. 87

Argued October 23, 1925

Decided January 11, 1926

269 U.S. 459


1. A suit by an exclusive licensee under a patent to protect his rights against infringement by a stranger, without joining the patent owner as plaintiff, does not arise under the patent laws (Rev.Stats. § 4921), but is based merely on contract rights, and is not maintainable in the federal court in the absence of diversity of citizenship. P. 269 U. S. 466.

2. An exclusive licensee may bring suit under Rev.Stats. § 4921 by joining the patent owner as a co-plaintiff when the latter is out of the jurisdiction and declines to join and when such suit is

Page 269 U. S. 460

necessary to protect the rights of the licensee against an infringer, so that a failure of justice might result if such joinder were not allowed. Pp. 269 U. S. 467, 269 U. S. 472.

3. This is analogous to the right of the licensee to bring an action on the case for damages in the patent owner's name under Rev.Stats. § 4919, which is in pari materia with § 4921. Pp. 269 U. S. 464, 269 U. S. 472.

4. A patent owner is under an equitable obligation to allow the use of his name and title to protect lawful exclusive licensees against infringers. P. 269 U. S. 473.

5. A patent owner cannot thus be made a co-plaintiff in equity without having first been requested to become such voluntarily. P. 269 U. S. 473.

6. When a patent owner, though requested, declines to permit the use of his name in a proper case by an exclusive licensee in a suit against an infringer, but is nevertheless joined as co-plaintiff and duly notified of the suit, he will be bound by the decree. P. 269 U. S. 474.

297 F. 521 affirmed.

Certiorari to a decree of the circuit court of appeals which reversed a decree of the district court dismissing on motion the bill in a suit to enjoin infringement of a patent, and for an accounting of profits and for damages. See 297 F. 518.

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