''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
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
* 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
* Brooks, JohnTelephone: The First Hundred Years
Harper & Row, 1976, , .
* Bruce, Robert VBell: Alexander Bell and the Conquest of Solitude
Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press
, 1990. .
* Beauchamp, ChristopherWho 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.
* Legat, V. 1862. ''Reproducing sounds on extra galvanic way'' ited March 26, 2006
AvailablLitigation Series – Telephone Interferences: Edison Exhibits
** 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
Category:Alexander Graham Bell
Category:Discovery and invention controversies
Category:History of the telephone
Category:United States Supreme Court cases
Category:1888 in United States case law
Category:United States Supreme Court cases of the Waite Court