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The Trade-Mark Cases

United States Supreme Court
100 U.S. 82 (1879)


In 1870, the United States Congress passed legislation that created a federal scheme for the registration and protection of trademarks, with provisions for civil remedies in the event of wrongful use of a protected trademark. In 1876, an additional federal law was passed that provided criminal sanctions for the fraudulent use, sale, or counterfeiting of protected trademarks. Three cases were brought in the circuit courts for criminal prosecutions for violations of these federal trademark laws. The constitutional validity of the trademark laws were challenged in each of these cases. Proponents of the law asserted in the cases that the Constitution granted Congress the power to legislate on the subject of trademarks through Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, which addresses patents and copyrights, and through Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, the Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Miller, J.)

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