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U.S. Supreme Court

Creswill v. Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias, 225 U.S. 246 (1912)

Creswill v. Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias of Georgia

No. 235

Argued May 2, 3, 1912

Decided June 10, 1912

225 U.S. 246


Where defendant sets up the claim that it enjoys right or privilege sought to be enjoined under authority of an act of Congress and the state court denies the right, the judgment is reviewable here under § 237 of the new Judicial Code (§ 709, Rev.Stat.).

Whether persons have a right to be incorporated in a state as a state branch of an organization incorporated in the District of Columbia under an act of Congress is a nonfederal question.

Quaere whether the principles applicable to use of trademarks and tradenames are applicable to the use of names of fraternal organizations having a main organization with branches in the several states.

The doctrine of laches applies to the use of a name of a fraternal corporation, and equity will not grant relief against the use of the name by parties who have been using it for many years without objection at the instance of the older organization, there not appearing to be any fraud or intent to deceive the public.

While this Court does not as a general rule review findings of fact of the state court on writ of error, where a federal right has been denied as a result of a finding of fact and it is contended there is no evidence to support that finding and the evidence is in the record, the resulting question is open for decision, and where a conclusion of law as to a federal right and a finding of fact are so intermingled as to require the facts to be analyzed and dissected so as to pas on the federal question, this Court has power to do so.

In this case, held that:

There was no evidence to support a finding that the defendants below were attempting by their application for incorporation in a state to use the name Knight of Pythias so as to deceive the public and work pecuniary damage to the older organization of that name, the complainant.

The long continued acquiescence of the older organization of the Knights of Pythias in the use of the name by the junior organization prior to the attempt of the latter to have this particular chanrobles.com-red

Page 225 U. S. 247

state branch incorporated amounted to laches, and under such conditions, equity could not grant relief.

The existence of laches in this case is incompatible with a finding of injury to property and deceit to the public.

133 Ga. 837 reversed.

The facts, which involve the right of two associations to use the name "Knights of Pythias" and to be incorporated thereunder in one of the states, are stated in the opinion. chanrobles.com-red

Page 225 U. S. 248


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