''The Telephone Cases'', 126 U.S. 1 (1888), were a series of US court cases in the 1870s and the 1880s related to the invention of the telephone, which culminated in the 1888 decision of the US Supreme Court upholding the priority of the patents belonging to Alexander Graham Bell. Those telephone patents were relied on by the American Bell Telephone Company and the Bell System although they had also acquired critical microphone patents from Emile Berliner. The objector (or plaintiff) in the notable Supreme Court case was initially the Western Union telegraph company, which was then a far-larger and better financed competitor than American Bell Telephone. Western Union advocated several more recent patent claims of Daniel Drawbaugh, Elisha Gray, Antonio Meucci and Philip Reis in a bid to invalidate Alexander Graham Bell's master and subsidiary telephone patents dating back to March 1876. Western Union's success would have immediately destroyed the Bell Telephone Company, and Western Union could have become the world's largest telecommunications monopoly in Bell's place. The US Supreme Court came within one vote of overturning the Bell patent because of the eloquence of lawyer Lysander Hill for the Peoples Telephone Company. In a lower court, the Peoples Telephone Company stock rose briefly during the early proceedings but dropped after its claimant, Daniel Drawbaugh, took the stand and drawled: "I don't remember how I came to it. I had been experimenting in that direction. I don't remember of getting at it by accident either. I don't remember of anyone talking to me of it."Billings, A. ''Bell and the Early Independents'', Telephone Engineer and Management, March 15, 1985, pp87-89, In the case, the Supreme Court affirmed several other lower court cases: ''Dolbear et al. v American Bell Tel. Co.'', 15 Fed. Rep 448, 17 Fed. Rep. 604, ''Molecular Te. Co. ''et al.'' v ''American Bell Tel. Co.'' 32 Fed. Rep 214, ''People's Tel. Co. et al. v American Bell Tel. Co.'', 22 Fed. Rep. 309 and 25 Fed. Rep. 725. Well reversing ''American Bell Tel Co. et al. v Molecular Tel. Co et al.'' 32 Fed Rep. 214. Bell's second fundamental patent expired on January 30, 1894, when the gates were then opened to independent telephone companies to compete with the Bell System. In all, the American Bell Telephone Company and its successor, AT&T, litigated 587 court challenges to its patents, including five that went to the US Supreme Court and, aside from two minor contract lawsuits, never lost a single case that was concluded with a final stage judgment.Australasian Telephone Collecting Society
Who Really Invented The Telephone?
ATCS, Moorebank, NSW, Australia. Retrieved from www.telephonecollecting.org website on April 22, 2011.


The Court's decision in the ''Telephone Cases'' is notable for the size of the opinions delivered; together, they occupy the entire 126th volume of the ''United States Reports''.

Notable cases

Among the notable court cases involving the Bell Telephone Company, later renamed to the American Bell Telephone Company, were those related to challenges by Elisha Gray, a principal in Western Electric, as depicted in the Elisha Gray and Alexander Bell telephone controversy. Additionally the Bell Company became embroiled in a number of challenges from those companies associated with Antonio Meucci, as shown in the Canadian Parliamentary Motion on Alexander Graham Bell, itself a response to the United States HRes. 269 on Antonio Meucci.

See also

* Alexander Graham Bell * Bell Telephone Company * Bell Telephone Memorial, a major monument dedicated to the invention of the telephone * Elisha Gray and Alexander Bell telephone controversy * Gardiner Greene Hubbard, first president of the Bell Telephone Company * History of the telephone * Timeline of the telephone * Western Union


;Notes ;Bibliography * Brooks, John
Telephone: The First Hundred Years
Harper & Row, 1976, , . * Bruce, Robert V
Bell: Alexander Bell and the Conquest of Solitude
Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1990. .

Further reading

* Beauchamp, Christopher
Who Invented the Telephone?: Lawyers, Patents, and the Judgments of History
''Technology and Culture'', Vol. 51, No. 4, October 2010, pp. 854–878, DOI: 10.1353/tech.2010.0038.

External links

* * Legat, V. 1862. ''Reproducing sounds on extra galvanic way'' ited March 26, 2006 Availabl
Litigation Series – Telephone Interferences: Edison Exhibits
contained within: ** Legat, Wilhelm von (1862) ''Litigation Series – Telephone Interferences: Edison Exhibits'', which covers: (Reis, Philip) Telephone; Sound and Acoustics; Thomas Edison National Historical Park, I2459; TAEM 11:635 Quote: :: {{DEFAULTSORT:Telephonecases, The Category:Alexander Graham Bell Category:Bell System Category:Business rivalries Category:Discovery and invention controversies Category:History of the telephone Category:United States Supreme Court cases Category:1888 in United States case law Category:Western Union Category:United States Supreme Court cases of the Waite Court