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E. I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co. v. Du Pont Safety Razor Corp.

Court of Chancery of Delaware, New Castle County

July 13, 1951

E. I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS & CO.
v.
DU PONT SAFETY RAZOR CORP.

E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company, a corporation of the State of Delaware, brought suit against the Du Pont Safety Razor Corporation to enjoin the defendant from using the word ‘ DuPont’ in its corporate name and on and in connection with safety razor blades advertised and sold by the defendant. The Court of Chancery, in and for New Castle County, Seitz, Chancellor, held that plaintiff was entitled to an injunction.

Decree for plaintiff.

Hugh M. Morris of Morris, Steel, Nichols & Arsht, of Wilmington, and Wilson C. Baily, of West Chester, Pa., for plaintiff.

Defendant did not appear at the final hearing.

SEITZ, Chancellor.

Plaintiff seeks to have defendant enjoined from using the word ‘ DuPont’ in its corporate

Page 385

name and on and in connection with safety razor blades advertised and sold by it.[1]

After this case came to issue and during the discovery [32 Del.Ch. 157] phases thereof, the defendant's counsel withdrew and subsequently the matter came on for the final hearing at which time only the plaintiff appeared and presented evidence.

In order to determine the relief, if any, to which plaintiff is entitled, it is first necessary to narrate the facts as I find them.

E. I. duPont De Nemours established in 1802 on the Brandywine River[2] near Wilmington, Delaware, a gunpowder manufacturing business. It was conducted by a partnership under the name of ‘ E. I. duPont de Nemours and Company’ . The founder died October 31, 1834. Thereafter the business was carried on by successive partnerships under the same or substantially the same name until 1899 when it was incorporated under the name ‘ E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company’ . In 1902 the property and business of the first corporation was transferred to a successor corporation which operated until 1915 when the present plaintiff was organized and acquired the business and assets of its predecessor. Descendants of the founder, one or more of whom were partners in one or more of the several partnerships that existed between the death of the founder and the acquisition of the business by the first corporation, included the following: Alfred Victor duPont, Henry duPont, Alexis Irenee duPont, Eleuthere Irenee duPont, II, Lammot duPont, Eugene duPont, Francis G. duPont, Henry A. duPont and William duPont. Until recent years the presidents of the duPont Company were duPonts who were descendants of the founder. Directors of plaintiff during the last decade have included numerous members of the duPont family who were descendants of the founder. Other descendants have been prominent in the management of the business of plaintiff and of its predecessor corporations and partnerships.

[32 Del.Ch. 158] I pause to point out that the word ‘ duPont’ both as the family name and in the plaintiff's corporate title has always apparently been spelled with a small ‘ d’ . However, when the word is applied as a trade name it has from the earliest times been generally spelled with a capital ‘ D’ . These differences which I have noted do not affect this decision.

Initially the business was largely confined to explosives, but in the early part of the present century the business was expanded to embrace more and substantially different fields of activity. In the last 10 years the present plaintiff has produced thousands of separate products and approximately 1,200 product lines. By the expenditures of tremendous sums of money in operational and research projects, plaintiff and its predecessors have, so far as the evidence here shows, given to their products a high standard of excellence in quality, workmanship and appearance. Plaintiff produces so many many different materials that space does not permit them to be listed.

Plaintiff does not manufacture or sell razor blades. Plaintiff suggests, however, that the toilet articles which it does produce, such as combs, cellulose sponges, toothbrushes, purse sets, complexion brushes and nail brushes are akin to razor blades, particularly at the retail level. All of these products are produced by plaintiff for sale at the retail level and bear the name ‘ DuPont’ . In the period 1948 to 1950 over 29,000,000 cellulose sponges carrying ‘ DuPont’ on the wrapper were sold. In the period 1947 to 1950 over 224,000,000 other toilet articles with DuPont thereon were sold for personal use.

The many exhibits introduced into evidence by plaintiff demonstrate beyond any real doubt that plaintiff and its predecessors have used the name DuPont prominently in their advertising and sales material almost since the first partnership. The evidence also ...


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