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SMITH-VICTOR CORP. v. SYLVANIA ELECTRIC PRODUCTS
February 1, 1965
SMITH-VICTOR CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
SYLVANIA ELECTRIC PRODUCTS, INC., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Decker, District Judge.
The facts underlying the plaintiff's amended complaint can
be stated generally. The plaintiff, one of several
manufacturers, made and sold what is called a "bar light" (or
"light bar") which is used, primarily by the amateur, as a
source of illumination for taking motion pictures; plaintiff's
"bar light" consists of a length of hollow metal bar on which
are mounted two or four incandescent photoflood lamps of 300
to 375 watts. In 1960, the defendant, Sylvania, introduced its
"Sun Gun," which is used for the same purpose as the
plaintiff's "bar light." The "Sun Gun" is a unit resembling a
traditional press-type flash gun, which provides light from a
single halogen light source.
Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of certain actions taken
by the defendant in the marketing of its "Sun Gun," to be
described more fully below, its sales diminished significantly
so that it sustained damages.
In general, the amended complaint alleges the following:
Count I — "In the promotion and sale of said product,
Sylvania made false claims for its `sun gun' and disparaged the
products of the plaintiff by said false statements."
Count II — The advertisements of Sylvania stated that the
"Sun Gun" provided as much light as the plaintiff's bar light;
that this statement was untrue and thereby disparaged the
plaintiff's product by indicating that it produced no more
light than the smaller "Sun Gun."
Count III — The false advertising violated an Illinois
criminal statute prohibiting untrue, deceptive or fraudulent
advertisements (Ill.Rev.Stat. 1959, ch. 38 § 249a), and
violated the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a).
Count IV — The defendant violated the anti-trust laws of the
United States by monopolizing the relevant market through the
conduct set out in Counts I and II and by a course of
acquisition which lessened competition substantially.
Count V — The defendant violated the Lanham Act, Section
43(a) by representing falsely the amount of light which its
General, and drastic, loss of business has been alleged;
loss of specific sales has not been alleged.
This case was reassigned from Judge Robson to this Court.
While he had the case, Judge Robson had occasion to pass on
the four counts of the original complaint, which are
represented by the first four counts of the amended complaint.
On December 12, 1961, Judge Robson denied the defendant's
motions for summary judgment on Counts I and II; he held that
the counts stated claims upon which relief could be granted,
but he stated that the motion for summary judgment could be
renewed if further discovery showed that no genuine issue of
fact existed. Discovery procedures have been pursued, and
summary judgment can now be reconsidered.
As to the claim based upon Section 5 of the Federal Trade
Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45, Judge Robson ruled that a
private cause of action could not be brought; he relied upon
Moore v. N. Y. Cotton Exchange, 270 U.S. 593, 46 S.Ct. 367, 70
L.Ed. 750 (1926), and Samson Crane Co. v. Union Nat. Sales,
87 F. Supp. 218 (D.Mass. 1949).
I feel that Judge Robson's ruling was correct and can see no
reason to disturb it; therefore, Count III of the amended
complaint must be dismissed.
Count IV of the original complaint was also dismissed by
Judge Robson; this count has been amended significantly and
will be discussed below.
The case is now before me on plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment as to liability on Counts I, II and V, as well as
defendant's motion for summary judgment on Counts I, II, IV
Counts I, II and V depend upon the same facts and can be
discussed together in considering defendant's motion for
The following facts are uncontradicted:
1. Equal light — The following are representative of the
defendant's advertising and press releases:
"[S]ame light in the area being photographed as
an 18-inch light bar containing R-30 photoflood
"[S]ame usable light as that obtained from four
"[F]ar brighter than any lamp ever before
offered for home movies."
"The Sun Gun is bright. With one quartz iodine
lamp it produces 35,000 center-beam candlepower.
This is the equivalent of the four R-30
photoflood generally used on a movie light bar."
2. Constancy of light output — The defendant has claimed:
(a) That the light output of its light never changed
throughout the life of the lamp.
(b) That a photoflood light output declines as use of the
(c) That the defendant's bulb does not blacken or go dim
with age as does a photoflood bulb.
3. Beam coverage — The defendant claimed:
"The beam * * * floods an area greater than the
coverage of the widest wide angle lens."
4. Rated life — The following are representative of the
defendant's advertising and press releases:
"[It] has a rated life of three times that of a
conventional `R' type Movie Light (like the
"The `Sun Gun' lamp will last much longer than
conventional movie lights. Life is rated,
officially, at 10 hours (as against 3 to 4 hours
for conventional movie lights), but that figure is
conservative. We have lights on our laboratory test
stands right now that have been burning steadily
for twenty hours and more."
5. General statements — The following are representative of
the general statements of comparison which the defendant made
concerning the Sun Gun and the light bar:
"Does away with bulky bar lights forever!"
"No Bar! No Bulk! No Bother!"
"Its ease-of-use would make it extremely
popular with women who wished to photograph their
families indoors but who found a light bar too
hard to handle * * *."
"[D]oes the work of a multiple-light bar * * *
and does it easier and better."
6. At no time did the defendant mention any manufacturer of
light bars by name; the only references were to light bars in
7. Manufacturers other than the plaintiff make and sell
light bars; manufacturers other than the defendant make and
sell single source lights.
8. The plaintiff has not alleged or shown that any specific
customers stopped buying its product as the result of the
defendant's advertising and sales promotion.
Certain facts have not been established, but for the
purposes of the defendant's motion, the Court will assume that
the following ...