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RCA Tube Litigation

One thing became clear in 1923. You better have good lawyers if you wanted to make vacuum tubes.

Perhaps even before the official formation of the Radio Corporation of America, legal teams from the corporate giants of General Electric, Westinghouse, and others, were preparing their injunctions against every possible infringer they could find. The war with Germany was over, but the patent war had just begun.

Investigations were called for by the Senate to investigate accusations of RCA's involvement in collusion, price fixing, and all the other niceties that come along with a monopoly. Those senate records, while infinitely dry and boring, hold some clues to identifying tube manufacturers. 

This page will reference known patent litigation regarding vacuum tubes, as well as clues to litigation not yet identified.


Report to Federal Trade Commission; 1 Dec 1923, pgs 92-93. Transcribed by author


RCA suits concerning Fleming patent 803684 (Nov 1907)

RCA vs. Radio Audion Corporation {Meyer's Audion}Equity 439, filed 30-Sep-1921, U.S. Delaware. Initial injunction granted for detectors only. Amplifiers & Oscillator use pending court decision 1923.
RCA vs. Jacob Hohonstein, et al. 
Equity 24/198, U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York
RCA vs. M & B Research Laboratories Inc., et al
Equity 3734, U.S. District Court of New Jersey. Injunction granted but defendents have been in default (since before Dec 1922)

RCA suits concerning both Fleming patent 803684 and Deforest patents 841387 (expired 15-Jan-1924); 879532

RCA vs. Alfred Emerson, et al. Equity 24/333. U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York; Restraining order in place pending trial in late Dec 1923.
RCA vs. Frederick Latter, et al. (Latter, Wagner, Rosenthal)Equity 24/349 U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York. {three defendents individiually called out as their case was split and Rosenthal's case was pending 1-Dec-23}
RCA vs. Edward Kuser, et al. Equity # unknown. U.S. District Court Eastern Division of Pennsylvania. an 'introlocutory decree pro confesso' has been entered (the defendent was a no show, no response and so is concluded guilty by failure to defend the charges)
RCA vs. John E. Patterson, et al. (Radio Equipment Co., Patterson, Wunder)Equity # unknown, U.S. District Court Eastern Division of Pennsylvania. final decree against Patterson & Radio Equipment Co.; 'introlocutory decree pro confesso' against Wunder
RCA vs. Benjamin Lakow, et al.Equity #24/17 U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York, introlocutory decree for plaintiff
RCA vs. Moorhead Laboratories, et al. Equity #721 U.S. District Court, Southern Division of Northern District, of California. Complaint dismissed against T.J. Swift. Introlocutory decree pro confesso entered for remaining defendents

RCA suits concerning Deforest patents 841387; 879532

RCA vs. M & B Research Laboratories Inc., et al
Equity 3735. U.S. District Court of New Jersey. Injunction granted but defendents have been in default (since before Dec 1922)
RCA et al. vs. F. AlexanderEquity 26/224. U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York. Injunction issued, defendent has appealed.
RCA vs. Jacob Hohonstein, et al.Equity 24/199. U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York. Complaint dismissed without opposition. case pending damages by master appointed.
RCA vs. Federal Engineering Company, Inc. {J. Tuckerman, President}Equity 25/76. U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York. Injunction signed 10-Feb-1923 that the bill be taken pro confesso
RCA vs. Radio Guild, Inc. {Welsh Electric Lamp Co., Newark,NJ}Equity 25/75. U.S. District Court Southern Division of New York. Injunction signed 02-Mar-1923 that the bill be taken pro confesso


Court References for requesting case transcripts.

Norther Div. California PACER query records do not contain either case #721 or records for Moorhead Laboratories as a general business name search: 






Patent 841387 Notice









RCA placed advertising in three known newspapers, warning tube makers. 

16-Jan-1924: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Philidelphia Inquirer