Board of Trade of the City of Chicago v. Christie Grain Stock Company No 224 Kinsey Company v. Board of Trade of the City of Chicago No 280, Nos. 224

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHolmes
Citation49 L.Ed. 1031,198 U.S. 236,25 S.Ct. 637
Decision Date08 May 1905
Docket NumberNos. 224,280
PartiesBOARD OF TRADE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Petitioner , v. CHRISTIE GRAIN & STOCK COMPANY and C. C. Christie. NO 224. L. A. KINSEY COMPANY et al., Petitioners , v. BOARD OF TRADE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO. NO 280

198 U.S. 236
25 S.Ct. 637
49 L.Ed. 1031
BOARD OF TRADE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Petitioner,

v.

CHRISTIE GRAIN & STOCK COMPANY and C. C. Christie. NO 224. L. A. KINSEY COMPANY et al., Petitioners, v. BOARD OF TRADE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO. NO 280.

Nos. 224, 280.
Argued April 20, 24, 25, 1905.
Decided May 8, 1905.

Page 237

Mr. Henry S. Robbins for petitioner in No. 224, and respondent in No. 280.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 237-240 intentionally omitted]

Page 240

Messrs. James H. Harkless, W. H. Rossington, Charles S. Crysler, Charles Blood Smith, Clifford Histed, J. S. West, and Chester H. Krum for respondents in No. 224.

Messrs. Lioyd Charles Whitman, E. D. Crumpacker, Jacob J. Kern, John A. Brown, Charles D. Fullen, and

Page 241

Peter Crumpacker for petitioner in No. 280.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 241-244 intentionally omitted]

Page 244

Messrs. Julien T. Davies, Abram I. Elkus, and Garrard Glenn by special leave for Edwin Hawley and Frank R. Ray.

Page 245

Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:

These are two bills in equity brought by the Chicago board of trade to enjoin the principal defendants from using and distributing the continuous quotations of prices on sales of grain and provisions for future delivery, which are collected by the plaintiff, and which cannot be obtained by the defendants except through a known breach of the confidential terms on which the plaintiff communicates them. It is sufficient for the purposes of decision to state the facts, without reciting the pleadings in detail. The plaintiff was incorporated by special charter of the state of Illinois on February 18, 1859. The charter incorporated an existing board of trade, and there seems to be no reason to doubt, as indeed is alleged by the Christie Grain & Stock Company, that it then managed its chamber of commerce substantially as it has since. The main feature of its management is that it maintains an exchange hall for the exclusive use of its members, which now has become one of the great grain and provision markets of the world. Three separated portions of this hall are known respectively as the wheat pit, the corn pit, and the provision pit. In these pits the members make sales and purchases exclusively for future delivery, the members dealing always as principals between themselves, and being bound practically, at least, as principals to those who employ them when they are not acting on their own behalf.

The quotation of the prices continuously offered and accepted in these pits during business hours are collected at the plaintiff's expense, and handed to the telegraph com-

Page 246

panies, which have their instruments close at hand, and by the latter are sent to a great number of offices. The telegraph companies all receive the quotations under a contract not to furnish them to any bucket shop or place where they are used as a basis for bets or illegal contracts. To that end they agree to submit applications to the board of trade for investigation, and to require the applicant, if satisfactory, to make a contract with the telegraph company and the board of trade, which, if observed, confines the information within a circle of persons all contracting with the board of trade. The principal defendants get and publish these quotations in some way not disclosed. It is said not to be proved that they get them wrongfully, even if the plaintiff has the rights which it claims. But as the defendants do not get them from the telegraph companies authorized to distribute them, have declined to sign the above-mentioned contracts, and deny the plaintiff's rights altogether, it is a reasonable conclusion that they get, and intend to get, their knowledge in a way which is wrongful unless their contention is maintained.

It is alleged in the bills that the principal defendants keep bucket shops, and the plaintiff's proof on that point fails, except so far as their refusal to sign the usual contracts may lead to an inference, but, if the plaintiff has the rights which it alleges, the failure is immaterial. The main defense is this: It is said that the plaintiff itself keeps the greatest of bucket shops, in the sense of an Illinois statute of June 6, 1887, that is, places wherein is permitted the pretended buying and selling of grain, etc., without any intention of receiving and paying for the property so bought, or of delivering the property so sold. On this ground it is contended that if, under other circumstances, there could be property in the quotations, which hardly is admitted, the subject-matter is so infected with the plaintiff's own illegal conduct that it is caput lupinum, and may be carried off by any one at will.

It appears that in not less than three quarters of the transactions in the grain pit there is no physical handing over of

Page 247

any grain, but that there is a settlement, either by the direct method, so called, or by what is known as ringing up. The direct method consists simply in setting off contracts to buy wheat of a certain amount at a certain time, against contracts to sell a like amount at the same time, and paying the difference of price in cash, at the end of the business day. The ring settlement is reached by a comparison of books among the clerks of the members buying and selling in the pit, and picking out a series of transactions which begins and ends with dealings which can be set against each other by eliminating those between—as, if A has sold to B 5,000 bushels of May wheat, and B has sold the same amount to C, and C to D, and D to A. Substituting D for B by novation, A's sale can be set against his purchase, on simply paying the difference in price. The circuit court of appeals for the eighth circuit took the defendant's view of these facts, and ordered the bill to be dismissed. 61 C. C. A. 11, 125 Fed. 161. The circuit court of appeals for the seventh circuit declined to follow this decision, and granted an injunction, as prayed. 64 C. C. A. 669, 130 Fed. 507. Thereupon writs of certiorari were granted by this court, and both cases are here.

As has appeared, the plaintiff's chamber of commerce is, in the first place, a great market, where, through its eighteen hundred members, is transacted a large part of the grain and provision business of the world. Of course, in a modern market, contracts are not confined to sales for immediate delivery. People will endeavor to forecast the future, and to make agreements according to their prophecy. Speculation of this kind by competent men is the self-adjustment of society to the probable. Its value in well known as a means of avoiding or mitigating catastrophes, equalizing prices, and providing for periods of want. It is true that the success of the strong...

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196 practice notes
  • Oakland-Alameda County Builders' Exchange v. F. P. Lathrop Const. Co., OAKLAND-ALAMEDA
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 26, 1970
    ...(1924) 263 U.S. 611, 619-620, 44 S.Ct. 225, 68 L.Ed. 475; and Board of Trade of City of Chicago v. Christie Grain & Stock Co. (1905) 198 U.S. 236, 246, 25 S.Ct. 637, 49 L.Ed. In the Inland Bid Depository case the appellate court relied on evidence to show that lower bids were obtained by th......
  • Ultra-Life Laboratories v. Eames, No. 21111.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 9, 1949
    ...culling of poultry was and is a trade secret. Sandling v. Johnson, 141 F. 2d 660; Chicago Board of Trade v. Christie Grain & Stock Co., 198 U.S. 236, 25 S. Ct. 637; Larx Co. v. Nicol, 28 N.W. 2d 705; International News Service Co. v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215, 39 S. Ct. 68; F.W. Dodge ......
  • Waring v. Wdas Broad. Station, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 8, 1937
    ...Co. (C.C.A.) 145 F. 28; Moore v. New York Cotton Exchange (C.C.A.) 296 F. 61. 12 See, also, Board of Trade v. Christie Grain & Stock Co., 198 U.S. 236, 25 S.Ct. 637, 49 L.Ed. 1031; Kiernan v. Manhattan Quotation Telegraph Co., 50 How.Prac.(N.Y.) 194; Uproar Co. v. National Broadcasting Co. ......
  • Kewanee Oil Company v. Bicron Corporation 8212 187, No. 73
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 13, 1974
    ...Park & Sons Co., 220 U.S. 373, 402—403, 31 S.Ct. 376, 382—383, 55 L.Ed. 502 (1911); Board of Trade v. Christie Page 493 Grain & Stock Co., 198 U.S. 236, 250—251, 25 S.Ct. 637, 639—640, 49 L.Ed. 1031 (1905).23 Trade secret law and patent law have co-existed in this country for over one hundr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
195 cases
  • Oakland-Alameda County Builders' Exchange v. F. P. Lathrop Const. Co., OAKLAND-ALAMEDA
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 26, 1970
    ...(1924) 263 U.S. 611, 619-620, 44 S.Ct. 225, 68 L.Ed. 475; and Board of Trade of City of Chicago v. Christie Grain & Stock Co. (1905) 198 U.S. 236, 246, 25 S.Ct. 637, 49 L.Ed. In the Inland Bid Depository case the appellate court relied on evidence to show that lower bids were obtained by th......
  • Ultra-Life Laboratories v. Eames, No. 21111.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 9, 1949
    ...culling of poultry was and is a trade secret. Sandling v. Johnson, 141 F. 2d 660; Chicago Board of Trade v. Christie Grain & Stock Co., 198 U.S. 236, 25 S. Ct. 637; Larx Co. v. Nicol, 28 N.W. 2d 705; International News Service Co. v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215, 39 S. Ct. 68; F.W. Dodge ......
  • Waring v. Wdas Broad. Station, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 8, 1937
    ...Co. (C.C.A.) 145 F. 28; Moore v. New York Cotton Exchange (C.C.A.) 296 F. 61. 12 See, also, Board of Trade v. Christie Grain & Stock Co., 198 U.S. 236, 25 S.Ct. 637, 49 L.Ed. 1031; Kiernan v. Manhattan Quotation Telegraph Co., 50 How.Prac.(N.Y.) 194; Uproar Co. v. National Broadcasting Co. ......
  • Kewanee Oil Company v. Bicron Corporation 8212 187, No. 73
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 13, 1974
    ...Park & Sons Co., 220 U.S. 373, 402—403, 31 S.Ct. 376, 382—383, 55 L.Ed. 502 (1911); Board of Trade v. Christie Page 493 Grain & Stock Co., 198 U.S. 236, 250—251, 25 S.Ct. 637, 639—640, 49 L.Ed. 1031 (1905).23 Trade secret law and patent law have co-existed in this country for over one hundr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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