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Trade-Mark Cases

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Citation Edit

The Trade-Mark Cases, 100 U.S. 82 (1879) (full-text).

U.S. Supreme Court Proceedings Edit

The U.S. Supreme Court held the first federal trademark act to be unconstitutional because it was enacted pursuant to the Copyright and Patent clause:

Any attempt . . . to identify the essential characteristics of a trade-mark with inventions and discoveries in the arts and sciences, or with the writings of authors, will show that the effort is surrounded with insurmountable difficulties.[1]

The Court also held that the Commerce Clause did not provide authority for the trademark act because the law governed all commerce and was not limited to interstate or foreign commerce, “the kind of commerce which Congress is authorized to regulate.[2] The opinion suggested that similar legislation limited as to the type of commerce involved would pass constitutional muster under the Commerce Clause. Indeed, such legislation was subsequently enacted and has continued unchallenged since 1905.

References Edit

  1. Id. at 93-94.
  2. Id. at 97.

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