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Law School Case Brief

Bd. of Trade v. Dow Jones & Co - 98 Ill. 2d 109, 74 Ill. Dec. 582, 456 N.E.2d 84 (1983)


Whether protection against appropriation is necessary to foster creativity depends in part upon the expectations of that sector of the business community which deals with the particular intangible. If the creator of an intangible product expects to be able to control the licensing or distribution of the intangible in order to profit from his effort, and similarly those who would purchase the product expect and are willing to pay for the use of the intangible, a better argument can be made in favor of granting protection.


The Board of Trade brought a declaratory action against Dow Jones. The suit sought a declaration that the offering of a commodity futures contract based on index averages produced and sold by Dow Jones would not violate the latter’s legal or proprietary rights. The appellate court found that the use of the futures contract constituted commercial misappropriation of Dow Jones’ index and averages. The Board contended that contended that the appellate court erred because it was not in competition with Dow Jones. The latter argued that direct competition was not essential for liability under the doctrine of misappropriation.


Is direct competition essential for the determination of commercial misappropriation?




The court held that Dow Jones was entitled to protection against misappropriation by the Board of Trade of its proprietary interests. It also ruled that protection should be afforded to the one who expended labor and money to develop products. While imitation played an important part in a competitive economy, Dow Jones was entitled to protection against misappropriation of its indexes.

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