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POTTSTOWN DAILY NEWS PUBLISHING COMPANY v. POTTSTOWN BROADCASTING COMPANY (07/02/63)

July 2, 1963

POTTSTOWN DAILY NEWS PUBLISHING COMPANY
v.
POTTSTOWN BROADCASTING COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 155, Jan. T., 1963, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Sept. T., 1960, No. 23, in equity, in case of Pottstown Daily News Publishing Company v. Pottstown Broadcasting Company. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Jules Pearlstine, with him Pearlstine, Salkin & Hardiman, for appellant.

William A. O'Donnell, Jr., with him John R. Henry, and O'Donnell, Weiss, Mattei & Suchoza, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 411 Pa. Page 384]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

Pottstown Daily News Publishing Company (News Company), the publisher of the "Pottstown Mercury", a newspaper, instituted an action in equity in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County against the Pottstown Broadcasting Company (Broadcasting Company), the owner of WPAZ, a radio station, to enjoin the latter "from any further appropriation of [News Company's] local news stories without its permission or authorization."

The gist of the News Company's complaint is that its newspaper and the radio station both "disseminate news to the same general area and sell advertising within the same area"; that the News Company expends

[ 411 Pa. Page 385]

    considerable money to operate its newspaper and particularly "to develop its sources of local news, train personnel, and to accurately and concisely compose local news items", such specialized treatment of local news being the principal factor in its circulation and sale of advertising copy; that the News Company "has copyrighted such local news items", notice of such copyright being carried on the masthead of the newspaper; that the Broadcasting Company, "without license, permission, or authority", uses the local news gathered by the personnel of the News Company and published in its newspaper, for its own daily broadcast of news "in violation of the right that the [News Company] has obtained by copyrighting and also violates the property rights of the [News Company] in the aforesaid news items." (Emphasis supplied).

In its answer, containing new matter, the Broadcasting Company, inter alia, avers that the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County lacked jurisdiction to entertain this action because the causes of action averred in the complaint are based upon a violation of the copyright laws of the United States and an unfair competition claim joined with a substantial and related claim under the copyright laws over which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction and, further, that the News Company has no common law property right in the news upon which a claim of unfair competition can be predicated. The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, being of the opinion that the News Company's complaint did allege "such a property right as is the subject of an action in unfair competition", held that it could "retain jurisdiction for the purpose of determining that cause even though [such cause] is joined with a 'substantial and related claim under the copyright laws'" and the court denied the Broadcasting Company's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. From that order this appeal was taken.

[ 411 Pa. Page 386]

The Broadcasting Company's initial contention is that jurisdiction to entertain both causes of action declared upon in this complaint is exclusively in the federal courts by virtue of the provisions of the Act of June 25, 1948, C. 646, 28 U.S.C.A. ยง 1338(a), (b), which provides: "(a) The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action arising under any Act of Congress relating to patents, copyrights and trade-marks. Such jurisdiction shall be exclusive of the courts of the states in patent and copyright cases. (b) The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action asserting a claim of unfair competition when joined with a substantial and related claim under the copyright, patent or trade-mark laws." (Emphasis supplied). In line with this contention, the Broadcasting Company argues that the instant complaint contains two causes of action, i.e., one cause of action which arises under the United States laws relating to copyright and another cause of action which asserts an unfair competition claim joined with a substantial and related claim under the United States copyright laws, and that, as to both causes of action, the 1948 statute, supra, vests exclusive jurisdiction in the federal courts. Since an examination of the complaint clearly indicates that it does state these two causes of action, our initial inquiry is whether the 1948 statute confers exclusive jurisdiction in both causes of action upon the federal courts.

In construing this Act we bear in mind the rule that a state court will not be held divested of jurisdiction by an act of the Congress unless the intent to so divest clearly appears: Guss v. ...


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