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Hamilton-Brown Shoe Co. v. Wolf Bros. & Co.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued October 28, 29, 1915. ; February 21, 1916, Decided

No. 37.

Opinion

 [*253]   [**269]   [***632]  MR. JUSTICE PITNEY delivered the opinion [****4]  of the court.

Respondent, an Ohio corporation engaged in the manufacture of shoes, filed its bill of complaint on January 29, 1906, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division, against petitioner, a Missouri corporation engaged in the same business, seeking an injunction to restrain infringement of an alleged trade-mark for shoes consisting of the words "The American Girl," by the use of the words "American Lady" as a colorable imitation, and also unfair competition in trade, carried on by means that included the use of the latter words; and praying an accounting of damages and profits. On final hearing the Circuit Court dismissed the bill. Upon appeal, the Circuit Court of Appeals (165 Fed. Rep. 413) held that "The American Girl" was a geographical name, and, as applied to women's shoes, was descriptive merely of shoes manufactured in America and to be worn by women, and not an arbitrary or fanciful name to indicate the maker, and hence that the term  [*254]  as applied to shoes  [**270]  was not the subject of a valid trade-mark. But the court held that complainant was entitled to be protected against unfair trade; that [****5]  the record disclosed that it and its predecessors in business had employed the words "The American Girl" as a trade-mark continuously since the year 1896, had extensively advertised their shoes under that name, with the catch phrase "A shoe as good as its name," in trade journals and newspapers throughout the United States, and largely throughout the southern States, and thus established an extensive trade therefor; and that defendant by adopting in the year 1900 and thereafter using the name "The American Lady," with certain catch phrases, in connection with shoes made by it, and this with full knowledge of complainant's rights, was guilty of unfair competition, tending to and resulting in confusion in the trade, and that complainant was entitled to relief. The decree of the Circuit Court was therefore reversed, with directions to decree an injunction and an accounting limited to the time since the commencement of the suit.

Complainant petitioned this court for a writ of certiorari to review that decision, but this was denied. 214 U.S. 514.

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240 U.S. 251 *; 36 S. Ct. 269 **; 60 L. Ed. 629 ***; 1916 U.S. LEXIS 1448 ****

HAMILTON-BROWN SHOE CO. v. WOLF BROTHERS & CO.

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

THE facts, which involve rights of the owner of a trade-mark and the liability of one infringing it, and other questions, are stated in the opinion.

CORE TERMS

shoes, profits, trade-mark, decree, manufacture, cases, infringement, words, damages, marked, patent, unfair competition, appropriation, accounting, allowance

Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction on Certiorari, Considerations Governing Review, Federal Court Decisions, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, State Court Review, Preliminary Considerations, Equity, Relief, Patent Law, Remedies, General Overview, Trademark Law, Damages, Types of Damages, Profits, Copyright Law, Infringement Profits, Equitable Relief, Injunctions, Conveyances, Maxims, Own Wrongs Principle, Defenses, Inequitable Conduct, Infringement Actions, Causes of Action Involving Trademarks, Burdens of Proof, Business & Corporate Compliance, Types of Commercial Transactions, Sales of Goods, Similarity of Marks, Appearance, Meaning & Sound