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U.S. Supreme Court

Standard Paint Co. v. Trinidad Asphalt Mfg. Co., 220 U.S. 446 (1911)

Standard Paint Company v.

Trinidad Asphalt Manufacturing Company

No. 106

Argued March 16, 1911

Decided April 10, 1911

220 U.S. 446


No sign or form of words can be appropriated as a valid trademark which, from the nature of the fact conveyed by its primary meaning, others may employ with equal right for the same purpose. Elgin National Watch Co. v. Illinois Watch Co., 179 U. S. 665.

A trademark must be distinctive in its original signification pointing to the origin of the article or it must become so by association. Canal Co. v. Clark, 13 Wall. 311.

"Rubberoid," being a descriptive word, meaning like rubber, the word "Ruberoid" is also descriptive, and, even though misspelled, cannot be appropriated as a trademark.

While the circuit court cannot take cognizance of the question of unfair competition by use of plaintiff's tradename where diverse citizenship does not exist, and in a case where jurisdiction is based on trademark alone, the judgment of that court is final, if diverse citizenship does exist and the requisite amount is in controversy, the judgment can be reviewed in this Court on the question of unfair competition independently of the questions involving validity of the trademark.

The essence of unfair competition consists in the sale of the goods of one manufacturer or vendor for those of another, and this cannot be predicated solely on the use of a tradename similar to that used by plaintiff if such tradename is invalid as a trademark. To do so would be to give the plaintiff's tradename the full effect of a trademark notwithstanding its invalidity as such.

The facts, which involve the validity of a trademark and the jurisdiction of this Court on appeal from the circuit court of appeals in a case involving validity of a trademark and also unfair trade where diverse citizenship exists, are stated in the opinion.

Page 220 U. S. 451

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