Trade-marks -

trade-marks deserve the earnest attention of the grocery trade. Their protection covers every proprietary article which it handles, and that means the greater portion of the stocks. The frauds who try to impose upon the dealer, and, through him, upon his customers, consist very largely of trade-mark violators. The advertising of this age, which works so directly in creating a demand for a wide variety of articles, heretofore unknown or unappreciated, could not exist in any such volume if it were not for trade-mark rights, and the protection which the law throws around them.

Trade-marked goods are a great help to the dealer. Handsomely labeled, securely packed, quickly handled, readily listed and priced, widely advertised to the public, they have doubled and trebled the variety of the grocer's stock and the number of dishes on his customers' tables. Some old fogies sigh for the good old days when the public knew nothing, and the dealer, in his narrower lines, was enabled to impose on it what he would. Then, sugar loaves were cut, spices were ground and coffee roasted in the narrow limits and the thick darkness of the rear of the store. In those days they bound apprentices, and sold dried mummy as medicine! The modern grocery with its wonderful conveniences, its splendid stock and its easy control of the world's delicacies, is a most enjoyable contrast.

Trade-mark properties are almost entirely of modern creation. When merchants dealt in natural and unchanged products of the ground, there could be no trade-marks. As civilization advanced, and men prepared and preserved foods in a variety of ways, secret processes were resorted to, but they gave very small protection and necessarily restricted the possibility of wide sale. Printing was known as an art long before it was used to any extent in producing the distinctive labels which were a necessary step to general identification, and to the possibility of widespread sales of proprietary articles. The real development of trade-mark rights, trade-mark protection and trade-mark growth did not come until the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the traffic of steamships and railroads had belted the globe, and printing and its processes had made it possible to produce handsome, distinctive labels for the simplest articles.

It was at this time that modern advertising took its first great strides, and that the struggle for better protection of the great properties which had grown up in proprietary articles forced courts and lawyers to consider, and practically create, a system of trade-mark law, one of the maxims of the law being that "wherever the law finds an injury, it is bound to find a remedy."

Any injury to a trade-mark is an injury of a most widespread character. It assails truth, filches property, degrades trade, makes a tool of the dealer, deceives the public, lessens the confidence of the people, generally tends to the adulteration or reducing of the quality of the goods and unsettles honest values. All dealers should discountenance any attempt at imitation, or substitution, or the various pretenses allied thereto.

The laws of trade-marks are in one way simple and in another way very intricate. They are rarely understood as they should be by the very owners of trade-marks of great value. To men of exact and clearly defined honesty their limits seem simple, but to the shifty dealer it is very hard to explain why Smith should be restrained from imitating Jones almost to the extent of impersonating him at the bank.

Primarily, the trade-mark represents the individuality of its owner - stands for him as his surname does, defines his connection with his merchandise, indicates his responsibility to the world for its quality and value. If he would have his own name respected and protected, he must keep it clear of entanglement, and manfully defend it. Even the poorest men (if their poverty be limited to mind or money and not to morals) are careful in this, and when men accumulate large properties or rise to large power, they are scrupulously jealous in this regard. Trade-mark owners, however, too frequently neglect to oppose infringement of their rights. Failing to give careful study to this valuable property, they make radical errors from which they could be saved by courage, more definite knowledge and a willingness to consult proper legal counsel.

It is a simple but too often little understood principle that when a manufacturer ceases to have any interest in his own trade-mark (as, for instance, when leasing it to another without retaining any direct interest in it himself) and it is continued by others, they take his place before the community as the responsible persons behind the trade-mark, and his right in it lapses as theirs becomes established by custom. Indeed, a trade-mark cannot be legally transferred or its use licensed unless there goes with it the business or good-will which it embodies; for, unless there is transferred with the trade-mark that which makes the representation it conveys true in the hands of the person to whom it is transferred, it is only a license to lie, which the law will not tolerate. The transferee gets nothing, and the original owner has abandoned his trade-mark.

An article cannot be trade-marked and patented and still hold both protections. Such an attempt at a double protection has not infrequently been made by over-careful manufacturers, or those who did not have proper counsel. When a man patents an article, the name he gives to it becomes the name of that thing. When the patent expires, everyone may make the thing and call it by its name.

A trade-mark belonging to a partnership will generally belong equally to both partners upon dissolution, unless an agreement assigns it to one or the other. In case of death the survivor owns it absolutely, except where an arrangement of partnership otherwise provides, or its value can be appraised as part of the estate.

A trade-mark must be truthful, although the truth is sometimes regretfully slender. The law will not protect an article trade-marked as an "Oil of almonds" when there is no oil of almonds in it, but the truth may be technically saved, as William Dreydoppel used to say of his rival's soap: "Youst a pinch of borax in it, youst enough to swear to"; nor will the law protect a brand of "California Oil" if it can be shown that it has no connection with California.

These few instances show that trade-mark law stands for truth, for personal responsibility, for an honest individuality and for exact dealing with the public and the trade; but those who own, or intend to own, trade-mark property should seek the highest advice, as surely as they would take that of a banker if they were about to invest, or of a doctor if they were ill.

Arround Trade-marks in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

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