Edison v. Edison Polyform Mfg. Co.
67 A. 392 (N.J. Ch. 1907)
In the present case, the Plaintiff was the inventor of electrical instruments and processes and had a huge reputation. He once made a medication for neuralgic pains. Some individuals purchased the rights to the formulation of that medicine for US$ 5000.
On November 7, 1879, a Company, called the ‘Menlo Park Manufacturing Company’ was organized under the laws of Connecticut by the said Company. In 1880, after several failed attempt to sell the medicine on a large scale a Corporation was established by the name of ‘Edison Polyform Company’. Mr. Edison had no interest in the said entities. There was still no success in selling the medicines despite using Mr. Edison’s image, alleged certificate and name for some time.
In 1893, the Defendant was incorporated and started to sell the medicine in a bottle having a label containing on the one side directions for use, and on the other a larger picture of Mr. Edison and the following words: ‘Edison’s Polyform’. Aggrieved and coming to knowledge of the present representation, the Plaintiff filed the present case.
The Court observed in the present case as follows:
- If a man’s name be his own property, as no less an authority than the United States Supreme Court says it is, in Brown Chemical Co. v. Meyer; 139 U. S. 542, 11 Sup. Ct. 625, 35 L. Ed. 247, it is difficult to understand why the peculiar cast of one’s features is not also one’s property, and why its pecuniary value, if it has one, does not belong to its owner, rather than to the person seeking to make an unauthorized use of it.
- “property right” is not to be taken in any narrow sense, and that the tendency of equity in cases of this description should be to extend, rather than to restrict, the jurisdiction.
- It is difficult to imagine a case in which preventive relief would be more appropriate than the present.
- In a perfectly unauthorized way a certificate falsely purporting to be made by Mr. Edison, and also false in fact, because the preparation is not compounded with all the ingredients of the formula, is put by a company bearing Edison’s name upon every bottle of Polyform which it sells. That there may be no mistake as to who is intended, the certificate is accompanied with a likeness.