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
“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
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."
British Trade Journal, Vol. 18, No. 216, (London, UK)