• U.S.

TRADE: Just Biscuits

1 minute read

In 1895, one Henry D. Perky was granted a patent on machinery for manufacturing his “pillow shape” Shredded Wheat Biscuits. When the patent expired 17 years later, Kellogg Co. began making a whole-wheat biscuit: ten years later it made this biscuit frankly similar to Shredded Wheat in shape & size. By 1929 Kellogg had sold plenty of its pillow-shape biscuits. That year National Biscuit Co.

acquired Perky’s business. There followed a long legal skirmish in the U. S. and in England: National Biscuit sued Kellogg, valuing the Shredded Wheat trade name at $5,000,000 and claiming sole right to both the name and the design.

Last week, reversing the Circuit Court of Appeals at Philadelphia, which in April 1937 reversed a previous decision of its own, the Supreme Court of the U. S. settled the breakfast-food issue. Out of a solemn huddle came the Justices with a decision that the term “shredded wheat” did not belong solely to National Biscuit Co. Six-to-two (dissenters: Justices McReynolds and Butler), they found “shredded wheat” simply a generic term by which a “biscuit in pillow-shaped form is generally known to the public.”

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