[LB022086], Letter from Thomas Alva Edison to Edison and Swan United Electric Light Co Ltd, May 20th, 1886


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[LB022086], Letter from Thomas Alva Edison to Edison and Swan United Electric Light Co Ltd, May 20th, 1886

Editor's Notes

Your favor of 30th March came to hand whilst I was still about at my Florida Laboratory, & in as much as it proposed a settlement differing considerbly from that I had talk of with Mr Insull it was impossible for him to reply without personal consultation with me. I found myself unable to go into the matter until a few days back. I then cabled you as follows:-- "Proposal concerns viz patent account unsatisfactory. If you desire present patents lapsing you should [???] Hanford pay fees your account pending your making acceptable agreement with me. "## To which you replied "will pay fees on your account subject to arrangement being made" ## I have reliped to this as follows:-- "will not incur further expense patent account. You should pay fees your account pending agreement between us. letter mailed." ## My reason for sending this last cable is that I have already paid out such a large amount in connection with these patents that I do not feel disposed to further incur the amount. The risk you take is but small in paying the fees as there can be no doubt of your being able to acquire the patents providing you are willing to reimburse me the amount I have spent in obtaining same. If the patents are worth anything they are certainly worth far more than the mere cost of obtaining them. I took them out in perfect good faith understanding at the time that there would be no question of my being unable to obtain from your Company (as the Successors of the Edison Co) their bare cost. You argue from a wrong basis altogether in your letter of 31st March. You simply take the patents which you propose to maintain reckon the expenses on them & forget altogether that I have spent a large sum on those which you propose should be allowed to lapse. If I were to render you an account in strict conform with the clause of the agreement which covers the question of future patents the cost to you even of the patent you desire to acquire would be far greater than the total cost of obtaining the whole of the patents. Furthermore if you recognize the whole of the account you will acquire the whole of the patents. If more of them still remain in my hands it is but natural that I should endeavor to dispose of them to other parties. This course would be unfortunate and far from my wishes as it might prove greatly to your disadvantage to have patents on Electric Lighting bearing my name held by any English Company other than your own. ## It is hardly equitable to take a proposition made by me nearly two years ago (I refer to my letter of August 22nd 1884) as applying to the case at this late date. In 1884 I could have disposed of Central Station Dynamos at prices which would have about equalled your contract price with the Edison Machine Works but it is impossible to do this to-day. Mr. Insulls proposition of 31 March was suggested by a desire to relieve you of all responsibility with relation to [those?] Dynamos. The manager of The Edison Machine Works has has repeatedly consulted with me on the subject and again & again expressed a desire to [make?] delivery to [you?] of these machines which would necessittate you paying between $1600 & [$1700?] [the?] final payment on each machine. I have opposed this as I knew you had no immediate use for these machines & I did not want to involve you in any futher immediate [word underlined] payments in connection with them. ## In the event of your accepting the proposition made you by Mr Insull on my behalf (in his letter of 31st March) I should simply negotiate with The Edison Machine Works with you simply to [their?] cancelling your [application?] to them in connection with the order for Central Station Dynamos. I should not expect to make one cent of profit on the arrangement and should consider myself fortunate if I obtained from the Machine Works sufficient to reimburse me the amount I have now invested in the English patents in question. You must remember that the improvements made in Dynamo construction have caused a very great depreciation in the value of Central Station Dynamos, in fact so much so that even if it is possible to sell them at all the price obtainable will be very small ["very small" underlined] indeed as compared with the price easily obtainable here and abroad four or five years ago--or in other words at [word above the line] the time at which you gave the order. To-day with one half the weight of material we get the same product from our Dynamos & with very much better efficiency. This is owing to a long series of experiments conducted by me at very great expense to myself. ## With relation to future patents I think you should undertake to pay the cost of preparing cases [being?] for the English Patent Office then my American Patent Attorney can forward the cases to you & you can decide whether you will file them or not. The question of publication is a matter which can readily be arranged between my American Patent Attorney & your Patent Solicitor. I would suggest that you place your portion of this business in the hands of Mr Hanford who has already a perfect understanding with my Patent Attorney here with a view to the prevention of the invalidating of a patent from publication both here & in England. ## If I were to agree to your suggestion of forwarding all cases to you for decision as to whether you would accept them or not I should be at the expense of the preparation of the cases by my American Patent Attorney. Of course I desire to save myself all expense in this connection as whatever advantage tehre may be in the matter accrue to your Company not to myself. ## Awaiting your speedy reply I remain Yours truly
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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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