[D8535Z], Letter from Compagnie Continentale Edison, Louis Rau to Thomas Alva Edison, May 8th, 1885


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[D8535Z], Letter from Compagnie Continentale Edison, Louis Rau to Thomas Alva Edison, May 8th, 1885

Editor's Notes

Since Mr. Siegel received the necessary powers for the fusion of the three French Edison Cos., we have been hard at work to come to a final arrangement of all these matters and were near attaining our goal when suddenly the French patent suit versus Maxim brought facts to the light which would make it impossible for the new Society to accept the terms of the arrangement with you as was proposed. [Lists facts referred to:] We had brought a suit here against Maxim to enforce our monoploy of the manufacture and sale of incandescent lamps in France. We stated that his lamps were an infringement on our first 3 principal lamp patents (Set 2 of May 29, 1879, Set 3 of Nov. 20, 1879, and Set 4, a certificate of addition of [----]). Maxim said his lamp was no infringement on ours and that the above mentioned patents were void for various reasons [lists in detail reasons Maxim claimed patents were void, in particular that patents in France must be on new inventions that have not been used elsewhere; that patent Set 4 should have been a certificate of addition to Set 3, but was (through neglect) instead listed as a certificate of addition to Set 2, making it valueless; and the results of the proceedings "[------] Maxim versus Edison" in the U.S. were favorable to Maxim. The upshot is that Compagnie Continentale seems to think Maxim has valid arguments and the patents may not be fully enforceable]. ##Under these circumstances, if we would agree to pay you such a heavy royalty as the one proposed in the new treaty and such a large profit as stated in the new Statutes, it is evident that it would be impossible for us to make arrangements with our competitors granting them advantages which would induce them to "let fall their pretentions in the patent suits." ##Our interest in these circumstances would be to make arrangements first with Maxim, and then to get his consent not to make public anything which might harm our patents and afterwards to come to an arrangement with the Swan people and to get in that way a kind of monopoly as we expected to have through our patents. ##In order to make such arrangements, we must give certain advantages to the people in question in form of a royalty or profit. ##We must ask you therefore to accept the offer which we make you now in order to make the fusion of the 3 companies, in asking for the founder shares of your Co. 12 centimes[?] per lamp, whatever may be the system of Lamp used by us and in turning us over 3,000 instead of 2,000 founder shares, so that we would be able to interest the other companies in our profits. ##It would be necessary to have your acceptance of the present conditions by return of first the authorization given to Siegel so that we can make the fusion in the present half year together with our ordinary general meeting of shareholders. ##Now we will try to show you what would happen should you refuse to accept our proposals: First, our patent suits would be lost and our principal lamp patents would publicly be declared void. There would then be nothing left to the Compagnie Continentale but to liquidate within a very short period for a loss of 3/4 of its capital. "All persons here connected with the Edison System have worked very hard and at the moment when they are now about to reap the profit of their work, they see all their hopes vanish entirely." ##We must tell the shareholder the facts in our next meeting. ##Please send your answer to us, Wallerstein, and Siegel. As soon as we have it, we will call in the shortest period an extraordinary meeting so that next month matters can be settled.






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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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