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United States Time Corp. v. Grand Union Co.

Decided: November 16, 1960.

THE UNITED STATES TIME CORPORATION, A CONNECTICUT CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE GRAND UNION COMPANY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, T/A GRAND WAY DISCOUNT CENTERS, DEFENDANT



Collester, J.s.c.

Collester

The plaintiff, The United States Time Corporation, a corporation of the State of Connecticut, seeks an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendant, The Grand Union Company, a corporation of the State of Delaware, trading as Grand Way Discount Centers, from selling, advertising for sale and offering for sale products of the plaintiff at less than the prices fixed by the plaintiff pursuant to the New Jersey Fair Trade Act, N.J.S.A. 56:4-3 et seq.

The verified complaint and affidavits show that plaintiff is engaged in the manufacture and distribution of watches and related products which are sold throughout New Jersey and elsewhere in the United States bearing the trademarks "Timex" and "Ingersoll."

The evidence shows that the plaintiff has entered into resale price maintenance agreements with retailers located in New Jersey under the terms of which the retailers agree to maintain established minimum resale prices which are specified and established by the plaintiff. The before mentioned contracts with New Jersey retailers were subject to acceptance at the home office of the plaintiff in Waterbury, Connecticut.

The defendant corporation operates retail stores in New Jersey under the name of Grand Way Discount Centers including one located on Route 17 in Paramus, New Jersey, and another located on Route 18 in East Brunswick, New Jersey. The defendant did not enter into an agreement with the plaintiff to maintain minimum resale prices of plaintiff's products, although it does offer such products for sale to its customers.

The evidence shows that on or about August 30, 1960 the plaintiff's attorney wrote to the defendant advising that he had received reports of price cutting of the plaintiff's products and demanding that defendant comply with the plaintiff's established minimum resale price schedules. On September 8, 1960 plaintiff's attorney again wrote the defendant advising that plaintiff would enforce compliance with its established minimum fair trade prices for its products and enclosing a schedule of such prices. The last letter further advised defendant that plaintiff's shoppers had reported that defendant was offering plaintiff's products at prices lower than the established minimum prices at its stores in East Brunswick and Paramus.

The evidence further shows that on September 17, 1960 one of plaintiff's employees purchased Timex wrist watches at both of said stores at prices lower than plaintiff's established minimum prices.

The defendant does not deny that it has sold plaintiff's products at prices below plaintiff's established minimum prices.

In opposition to plaintiff's motion for an interlocutory injunction defendant has filed affidavits by three of its employees showing that on November 9, 1960 these employees purchased Timex watches manufactured by the plaintiff for less than the established minimum prices at Modell's Shoppers World, Route 17 in Lodi, New Jersey; at Great Eastern Mills, Route 17, Paramus, New Jersey; at Great Eastern Mills, Route 46, Little Falls, New Jersey, and at Davega Discount Center, Route 22, Springfield, New Jersey.

The defendant contends that plaintiff's application for interlocutory injunctive relief should be denied because (1) plaintiff is a foreign corporation not authorized to do business in New Jersey and is barred from maintaining this action under R.S. 14:15-4, and (2) because plaintiff has permitted the violation of its fair trade contracts in New Jersey and therefore has abandoned its minimum price requirements.

I.

The plaintiff admits that it is a Connecticut corporation and that it has not complied with the requirements of R.S. 14:15-3 by filing a copy of its certificate of incorporation and a statement containing information required by the statute with the Secretary of State, and that accordingly it has not obtained a certificate authorizing it to do business in this State. It contends that it is unnecessary to do so because it does not and has not transacted business in the State of New Jersey. It contends that it is not barred from maintaining the present action in this court.

Evidence has been presented by the plaintiff in support of its contention which may be summarized as follows:

Plaintiff has no office or telephone listings in this State; it holds no real property, leases no real property and occupies no premises in New Jersey. It employs two salesmen, one of whom calls on 28 accounts in northern New Jersey, and the other contacts two accounts in southern New Jersey. Neither salesman resides in this State and they work under the direct supervision of plaintiff's sales office located in New York City. Of the accounts mentioned 27 are wholesale distributors. Orders taken by the two salesmen contain a condition that they are subject to acceptance at the plaintiff's home office in Middlebury, Connecticut, and that the contract of sale shall be construed and ...


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