[D8850AAM], Letter from George Edward Gouraud to Thomas Alva Edison, January 31st, 1888


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[D8850AAM], Letter from George Edward Gouraud to Thomas Alva Edison, January 31st, 1888

Editor's Notes

"I have applied, first to the sec'y of the United, then to Brand the chairman, then to Waterhouse & Winterbetham, in the effort to trace all correspondence relating to the disclaimer, with a view to clearly establishing their authority to make it. I to the utmost endeavored to avoid implying or raising any question against the United. I based my application for this information upon our necessities for having it, owing to complications which might arise from the attitude taken by Nottage. I had several interviews with Winterbotham, who scouted the idea of the Stereoscopic having any claim whatever but he refused absolutely to give me any information upon the subect of the correspondence and transactions connected with the disclaimer, unless I would say, on your behalf, that you would make no claim against the United for anyting they might have done in the premises; this of course I could not agree to do. I said, however, all that I could to prove to him that I believed that they had done nothing so important as this disclaimer was without full authority either from you at the time, or derived previously through or under existing agreements, especially since it was a question of either totally disclaiming the phnograph, or totally invalidating the telephone patent, which had issue in the famous Harrison Cox-Walker case, the crucial test of the whole telephone patent question in this country. Winterbotham mentioned that the matter had been the subject of considerable correspondence between themselves and Johnson at the time. Of course I pointed out that that would have no bearing upon the question unless any authority derived from Johnson was based upon your authority to him. My letter of this date to Tomlinson will explain to you the position and history of the matter, and I trust you will promptly comply with my requirements. Immediately I receive complete copies of the correspondence, if any, which took place between you and the United, or by your authority--by which I mean between you and any officer of the United or their attorneys, Waterhouse & Winterbotham--I shall place this whole question before counsel for advice, having in mind two things,--1st, a special Bill in Parliament for the issue to you of a new patent upon the phonograph. It is quite possible that such a bill could be passed, in view of the main facts of the case, with which you are familiar, but which may be briefly enumerated: ### a.--That you never derived any profit from this most marvelous invention. ### b.--That the fault was not yours, but your English agent's, who put into the telephone patent something not in the provisional specification. ### c.--That the presence of the [unclear] phonograph patent in the telephone patent, invalidated the telephone patent. ### d.--That in order to save the telephone patent the purchasers of it destroyed wahtever value there was in your phonograph patent. ### e.--That the purchasers of the telelphone patent made hundreds of pounds out of it. ### Of course in all this I shall have due regard to what would be the status of the Steroscopic Co. should we succeed in the bill. If I am satisfied upon advice that I could not reinstate in any way the phonograph broad claim without reinstating their position under the lapsed license, I would then consider the expediency of inviting them to join in the bill, but upon entirely new terms with them This they would doubtless be glad to do, and I might, as a pure matter of tactics make the proposal to them, so that if they refused it, it would work against them should they subsequently claim anything under their lapsed license in consequence of their reinstatement in the patent. ### It is both Waterhouse & Winterbotham and Renshaws' unqualified opinion--and indeed no lawyer's opinion would seem necessary--that the Stereoscopic is as absolutely out of the questio, as though the license had never existed." G.E. Gouraud. "P.S.--When Winterbotham found that I would not formally waive all claims against the United Co. with respect to their disclaimer, he advanced the monstrous proposition--evidently by way of intimidating me, that the Company were not bound by the clause in the agreement with you for the sale of the patent "subject to the license, &c.," except in so far as it might be necessary to consider Nottage's position thereunder; that any benefits from the license in questin either than such as went to Nottage, would belong to the Company.---A proposition, as I told him, too utterly absurd to justify even comment upon it. But it shows which way the wind blows, and tells me very clearly that Waterhouse & Winterbotham must think that they have done something which they had not right to do, or else they would not have advanced so silly a proposition as the above, or hesitated to give me any information regarding the correspondence or documents relating to the disclaimer. The matter of my request for the information and copies of correspondence was the subject of consideration between Winterbotham and myself, between Brand and Morgan of the United and myself, &c. The only thing I have to urge upon you and those who do your correspondence is that no communication be sent to Waterhouse & Winterbotham or the United, or anybody else concerning this license. I am in position to deal with it here, and everything must be done to avoid compromising my position in the matter. If I find that the United Co. have destroyed your phonograph patent without due authority from you, their disclaimer could be held to be void; thus much I have elicited from the Chief Commissioner of Patents. I am taking advice as to whether, considering what Nottage did under the circumstances and received in the way of compensation, it would not throw him out of all benefits under your license even it we were able to revive the phonograph patent. I have calbed you that I have found the license, and have urged you to expedite with all possible speed copies of all documents passing between yourselves and others on this side with reference to the disclaimer, and I confidently rely on your seeing that I reeive the same with all possible despatch." G.E. Gouraud. H.




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