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The archives of the Edison National Historical Park (ENHP) contains extensive records relating to civil court litigation, along with records of Patent Office interferences, which are similar in many respects to litigation. Included are attorneys' correspondence, notes, and other papers; and printed and typescript copies of official court and Patent Office records. The official records consist of pleadings, testimony, exhibits, attorneys' briefs and arguments, and decisions and opinions of the judge or hearing examiner. Some cases generated an extensive printed record, while others never went to trial and thus include little more than attorneys' papers and correspondence. These records are found in the files of the Legal Department of Thomas A. Edison, Inc. A finding aid for this record group is available at ENHP.
Only those records that provide significant information concerning Edison's technical and business activities for the period 1887-1898 have been selected. These relate to four major technologies: electric light and power, motion pictures, phonographs, and ore milling.
Electric Light Cases. Most of the electric light cases from this period duplicate the material already published in Edison Electric Light Company v. United States Electric Lighting Company (see Thomas A. Edison Papers, Part II (1879-1886).) However, two additional cases containing Edison-related testimony and exhibits are published in Part III: (1) Electric Railway Company of the U.S. v. The Jamaica and Brooklyn Road Company, which includes material concerning Edison's work on electric railways; and (2) William Kemmler v. Charles F. Durston, which contains information regarding Edison's electrocution experiments.
Motion Picture Cases. Edison's technical work on motion pictures resulted in a major patent infringement suit, which he filed in 1898. The testimony and exhibits from Thomas A. Edison v. American Mutoscope Company and Benjamin F. Keith were often entered into evidence in subsequent infringement cases brought by Edison and his companies on his U.S. Patent No. 589,168 and its reissue, No. 12,192. The record from Edison's side of the case, which provides information concerning the early work on motion pictures undertaken at the West Orange laboratory, has been selected in its entirety. Some additional testimony and exhibits from other motion picture cases have also been selected.
Phonograph Cases. There are a number of cases involving Edison's work on the phonograph. One major suit, American Graphophone Company v. Edison Phonograph Works, concerns the basic phonograph patents of Edison and his rivals, Chichester A. Bell and Charles S. Tainter. The record from Edison's side of the case has been selected, along with his testimony from a related case, American Graphophone Company v. The United States Phonograph Company, Victor H. Emerson, and George E. Tewksbury. A number of other important suits between the American Graphophone Co. and Thomas Edison's National Phonograph Co. deal with recording cylinder technology. The most significant of these cases, which involves the patents granted to Edison's chief chemist, Jonas Walter Aylsworth, has been selected. Additional material regarding recording cylinder technology from the patent interference proceeding, Edison v. Lambert, has also been selected.
Several other cases arose from the complicated business arrangements made between Jesse Lippincott's North American Phonograph Co. and various subsidiary companies. The most important of these suits, New York Phonograph Company v. National Phonograph Company, has been selected. Also selected is a book of exhibits from the case of Thomas A. Edison v. John R. Hardin, Receiver of the North American Phonograph Company.
Ore Milling Cases. Only one case provides significant information concerning Edison's ore milling ventures during the 1890s. Although not filed until 1909, Thomas A. Edison v. Allis Chalmers Company, Empire Limestone Company and the Casparis Stone Company details the work of Edison and his assistants in the development of rock crushing technology at the Ogden mine during the period 1889-1899. The case also involves the transfer of this technology to the Edison Portland Cement Co. plant at Stewartsville, New Jersey, and its sale to other companies. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.