Monday, December 25, 2017

Early Incandescent Lamp Litigation (1891)

by Steve Reiss (

In 1891, Scientific American magazine reports:

The Incandescent Lamp Suit.

A suit brought upon one of Edison's fundamental incandescent lamp patents. No. 223,898, of January 27, 1880, is now upon its final bearing in the United States Circuit Court in this city before Judge Wallace. It is one of the most important patent suits that has recently come to trial, and if awarded in favor of the Edison patent, will give the Edison companies the monopoly of incandescent lamp manufacture for some six years to come, besides the benefits of an accounting for past infringements. 

The parties to the suit are the Edison Electric Light Company against the United States Electric Lighting Company. The interest involved is enormous ; it is estimated that from fifty thousand to seventy-five thousand lamps are manufactured daily, the royalty or profit on which would represent several millions of dollars annually. The counsel include Clarence A. Seward, Grosvenor P. Lowrey and Richard N. Dyer for the Edison Co., and Edmund Nettnore, Gen. Duncan, and Frederick H. Betts for the defendants. In the opening argument Mr. Dyer laid much stress on the commercial success of the Edison lamp, claiming that up to his time the critical point for the construction of a successful lamp had been missed by all inventors.

Scientific American, June 6, 1891 , p. 356 (emphasis added).

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