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Bayer Co. v. United Drug Co.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
272 F. 505 (1921)


Facts

Bayer Company (plaintiff) manufactured and sold acetylsalicylic acid under the name “Aspirin.” Bayer also held a patent for the product that expired in 1917. Bayer initially sold the product directly to manufacturing chemists, physicians, and retail pharmacies. The manufacturing chemists, physicians, and retail pharmacies thus knew that Bayer was the manufacturer of Aspirin. At that point, the drug reached the general public only by prescription. The public thus did not know that Bayer was the manufacturer of Aspirin. In 1904, Bayer began selling the drug directly to consumers in tablet form. The bottles generally were labeled “Aspirin” but did not contain Bayer’s name. In 1915, two years before the expiration of Bayer’s patent, Bayer began putting its name on its bottles of Aspirin. The labels stated “Bayer – Tablets of Aspirin.” After the expiration of the patent, United Drug Company (defendant) began selling acetylsalicylic acid under the name “Aspirin.” Bayer brought a common-law trademark infringement suit against United.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hand, J.)

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