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  The Antiquity of Trade Marks - The British Trade Journal, Vol. 18, 1880  

The question has been asked by somebody, “How old are trade-marks?" who answers it by saying that they seem to be nearly as old as the industry of the race.

For instance: “Ancient Babylon had property symbols, and the Chinese claim to have had trade-marks 1,000 years before Christ. Guttenberg, the very inventor of printing, had a lawsuit about a trade-mark, and he won it.

As early as 1300 the English Parliament authorized trade-marks, and the laws of America have always protected them.

The theory by which a suit is brought for infringement of a trade-mark is that its use deprives the originator of his property, and deceives the public as to the article. Extraordinary means have been required at all times to guard against the fraudulent use of marks of manufacture.

“In ancient times the greatest importance was placed upon the marks of individual workmen, because as in the case of the armorers, valuable lives often depended on the quality of the workmanship.

One old author complains that certain good and true soldiers were killed simply because the workmanship of their swords and arms was not good, and failed them when in battle. Very early, therefore, it was found necessary to make stringent laws against counterfeiting trademarks, and against scamped workmaship.

“Without protection in this one particular trade would almost come to a standstill, because there are very few things, comparatively, that can be purchased upon their merits judged at the moment. In general, we know the quality of goods by experience, and it is only after they have been in use that a certain judgment can be pronounced upon their quality.

Having then once found that a certain workman's productions are good, we seek them again in the market. If we have no means of identifying his trade-mark the whole work of buying becomes a haphazard affair. The best goods at once lose their value.

This was early discovered, and probably the successors of Tubal Cain were the first to use distinctive marks on their manufactures."

The British Trade Journal, Vol. 18, No. 216, (London, UK)
04/2014, WK


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