[The following note describes a series of company records and has no document records attached to it. To see the document records in the volumes and folders described here, use the "Which Series Notes?" button to enter the Series Notes or use the "Next Text" button to move to the first item in the series.]
Incorporated on September 9, 1908, the Motion Picture Patents Co. (MPPCo) was organized to acquire, pool, and license patents relating to the manufacture of motion pictures. Frank L. Dyer, vice president of the Edison Manufacturing Co. and later president of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., was the founding president. Harry N. Marvin, president of the American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., served as vice president. George F. Scull, assistant to the vice president of the Edison Manufacturing Co., was secretary. Marvin succeeded Dyer as president in 1912. MPPCo began operations on December 8, 1908, and acquired sixteen patents intrinsic to the manufacture and projection of motion pictures. Most of these patents were previously controlled by the Edison Manufacturing Co. and the American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. MPPCo subsequently entered into price, royalty, licensing, and related agreements with additional producers, importers, rental exchanges, exhibitors, and manufacturers, as well as with the Eastman Kodak Co. Exclusive distribution rights were eventually licensed to the General Film Co., which was incorporated in the State of Maine on April 18, 1910, and controlled by MPPCo.
Frank L. Dyer and Carl H. Wilson represented the Edison Manufacturing Co. on the board of directors of both MPPCo and the General Film Co. Other directors serving both companies included Jacques A. Berst of Pathé Frères; Jeremiah J. Kennedy of the American Mutoscope & Biograph Co.; Gaston Méliès of Geo. Méliès.; George Kleine of the Kleine Optical Co.; Samuel Long of the Kalem Co.; Siegmund Lubin of the Lubin Manufacturing Co.; William T. Rock of the Vitagraph Co. of America; William N. Selig of the Selig Polyscope Co.; and George K. Spoor of the Essanay Film Manufacturing Co.
An antitrust suit was filed against MPPCo by the federal government on August 15, 1912, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The court ruled against the company on October 1, 1915, and January 24, 1916. MPPCo appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but after a settlement was reached, the appeal was withdrawn and the company was dissolved.
The records primarily cover the years 1908-1919. They are arranged in six series: (1) Administrative Records; (2) Individuals; (3) General Film Company; (4) Licensed Manufacturers; (5) Independent Manufacturers [not selected]; and (6) Exhibitors [not selected]. A finding aid for the archival record group is available at the Edison National Historical Park.
Administrative Records. These records consist of correspondence and other documents, including agreements, minutes, announcements, and financial statements. Many of the documents relate to license agreements with manufacturers and exhibitors. The selected folders are arranged in the following order: (1) Correspondence and Agreements (1900, 1908-1918); (2) Documents (1908-1912); (3) Eastman Kodak Company (1908-1913); (4) Memoranda (1908-1918); (5) National Waterproof Film Company (1909-1913); (6) Newspaper Clippings (1908-1912); and (7) Trade Journals (1908-1912). Among the items not selected are letters relating to the surveillance of unlicensed manufacturers.
Individuals. These records consist of correspondence, clippings, and other documents. Many of the documents relate to competition between the licensed and independent film exchanges. The selected folders are arranged in the following order: (1) Dyer, Frank L. (1908-1912); (2) Farrell, John W. (1908- 1910); and (3) Hardin, John (1908-1910). The documents not selected include correspondence by William E. Gilmore and Walter Stevens of the Edison Manufacturing Co.; Dwight Macdonald, attorney and general manager of MPPCo; and Percival L. Waters of the Kinetograph Co. of New York.
General Film Company These records consist of correspondence, financial statements, and other documents. The material, which covers the period 1909-1919, pertains to the administration and dissolution of the General Film Co. The selected items deal primarily with the related interests of the Edison Manufacturing Co. and Thomas A. Edison, Inc. The folders are arranged according to year.
Licensed Manufacturers. These records consist of correspondence, agreements, and other documents covering the period 1908-1918, with a few additional items from 1901 and 1906. The documents concern contract negotiations, litigation, royalties, and censorship. There are also items pertaining to nonflammable film and waterproofed film. The folders are arranged in the following order: (1) American Mutoscope & Biograph Company; (2) Armat, Thomas; (3) Edison Manufacturing Company; (4) Essanay Film Manufacturing Company; (5) Gaumont Company and Société des Etablissements Gaumont; (6) Kalem Company; (7) Kleine, George; (8) Lubin Manufacturing Company; (9) Geo. Méliès and George Méliès Company; (10) Pathé Frères Moving Pictures and Compagnie Générale des Phonographes, Cinématographes et Appareils de Précision Pathé Frères; (11) Selig Polyscope Company; and (12) Vitagraph Company of America.
Independent Manufacturers [not selected]. These records consist of correspondence, drawings, and other documents, including injunctions, bills of complaint, and final decrees. The drawings, which are found in surveillance reports of detective agencies, pertain primarily to cameras. The folders are arranged alphabetically and include the following companies and individuals: Actophone Co.; Carson, George F.; Edengraph Manufacturing Co.; Film Import and Trading Co. (Powhatan); Independent Moving Picture Co. (Imp) and Universal Film Manufacturing Co.; International Projecting and Producing Co.; New York Motion Picture Co. (Bison); Oklahoma Natural Mutoscene Co.; Pantograph Co.; Powers Co.; Thanhouser Co.; and Viascope Manufacturing Co.
Exhibitors [not selected]. These records consist of correspondence and other documents, including bills of complaints and related items from legal proceedings. Most of the documents concern patent infringements and competition. Included are surveillance reports; conditions of rental; and a list of movie houses in New York City.