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American Waltham Watch Co. v. United States Watch Co.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
53 N.E. 141, 173 Mass. 85 (1899)


American Waltham Watch Co. (American) (plaintiff) filed for an injunction against United States Watch Co. (U.S. Watch) (defendant) to prevent U.S. Watch’s use of the name “Waltham Watch” or “Waltham Watches” in its advertising. American was the first manufacturer of watches in Waltham. The lower court found that, over time, “Waltham,” when used in association with watches, had obtained a secondary meaning as a watch sold by American. Although U.S. Watch agreed to stop using “Waltham Watch” or “Waltham Watches,” U.S. Watch then argued that it should be allowed to use “Waltham” or “Waltham, Mass” on the plates of its watches. The lower court found that the injunction against all use of “Waltham” should stand, as the publication of the geographic location of U.S. Watch’s business on the watches’ dials was not important knowledge for consumers. U.S. Watch then appealed this decision, arguing that it had the right to put its name and address on its watches without having to add a disclaimer distinguishing them from American’s watches.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Homes, J.)

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