[D8941ABL], Letter from Eaton and Lewis to Thomas Alva Edison, December 26th, 1889


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[D8941ABL], Letter from Eaton and Lewis to Thomas Alva Edison, December 26th, 1889

Editor's Notes

New York, Dec. 26th., 1889 Thomas A. Edison Esq., Dear Sir:-- Re Electric Light Patents for Johannesburg and the South African Republic. Replying to Mr. Tate’s letter of the 20th., inst., asking whether the above territory belongs to the Australasian Company, we beg to say:##(1) We cannot ascertain for a certainty whether any patents whatever are granted in the South African Republic. Neither Carpmael nor Abbot, in their works, makes mention of this country. The presumption is that there are no patents granted in that country.##(2) In case there are no patents, does the agreement of March 1, 18883, between Mr. Edison, the Marquis of Tweeddale and others, cover good-will? The language of the contract is: “privileges, rights and interests.” It is difficult to say just what is covered by these words, but probably they would be held to cover good-will.##(3) Is the South African Republic covered by the said agreement of March 1, 1883? That is to say, does it belong to the Australasian Company? There are two sides to this question. It may be that the said agreement was meant to cover only the English colonies, but this is not clearly expressed. The recitals in the agreement specifically mention the English colonies, but in the agreement itself speaks of south Africa without any restriction. Probably all of South Africa, including what is now known as the South African Republic (no matter what it was known as in 1883) is covered by the agreement, and belongs to the Australasian Company.##(4) Assuming that there is no law for patents in the South African Republic, and remembering that the question is in doubt whether, as stated above, the said agreement covers the South African Republic, and remembering also that good-will is possibly also not covered by the said agreement, can you safely sell a plant for Johannesburg? The best answer to be given to this question, with the limited information now before us, is that you must do so at your peril. It is impossible to give a yes or no answer to this question, by means of the papers now before us. If it should turn out that you had no right to make the sale, you would probably have to turn over your profits and nothing more. Whether you care to take that chance, is a practical business question for you to decide.##We return herewith the copy of the said agreement of March 1, 1883, sent us by Mr. Tate.##Hoping the above will be satisfactory, we remain, very truly yours, Eaton & Lewis




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