Int'l News Serv. v. AP

248 U.S. 215, 39 S. Ct. 68 (1918)

 

RULE:

A co-operative association of newspapers organized for the gathering, distributing, and publishing of news may enjoin a rival news agency from selling, as its own, news taken from the bulletins issued by the association or any of its members, or from newspapers published by them.

FACTS:

Defendant engaged in the systematic practice of taking the bodies of news stories from bulletin boards and early editions of complainant's newspapers and selling them as its own. Complainant sued, seeking, among other things, to enjoin defendant from engaging in such activity because it involved unfair competition. The trial court decided to withhold the injunction in anticipation of the appeal. The appellate court, however, issued the injunction and thus restrained defendant from taking or gainfully using any of complainant's news until its commercial value as news had passed away. The case was elevated on certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States.

ISSUE:

Can one be lawfully restrained from appropriating news taken from bulletins issued by newspapers for the purpose of selling it?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Emphasizing the competitive relationship between the parties, the Supreme Court concluded that, although it involved misappropriation rather than misrepresentation, defendant's strategy amounted to unfair competition in business.

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