This Week in Intellectual Property History

On January 12, 1965 The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company received a trademark registration for their new logo:

The B&O was the first common carrier railroad. It was chartered in 1827 and work on the line began in 1828. The line began operating the following year. In 1833, President Andrew Jackson boarded a B&O passenger coach at Relay, Maryland, and traveled to Mt. Clare Depot in Baltimore, becoming the first U.S. President to ride a railroad.  On May 24, 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse sent the first telegraph message from the basement of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. to the Mt. Clare Depot. The message “What God hath wrought” was transmitted across overhead wires following the B&O’s Washington Branch. The message was received by Alfred Vail and Ezra Cornell in the little passenger depot at Mt. Clare. For the first time in the history of mankind, two persons communicated out of sight and 40 miles apart.

The line prospered for more than a century. Then in the 1950s the B&O, like many railroads, had very serious financial problems. The New York Central proposed a three way merger with both the Baltimore and Ohio and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1959. The C&O, however, rejected the plan. Soon both the Central and the C&O were buying B&O stock in an effort to gain control of the troubled line. By late 1960 the New York Central had acquired about 10 percent of B&O’s shares but the C&O already had 30 and by the Spring of the next year had increased that amount to almost 70 percent.

The Chesapeake and Ohio applied to the ICC for legal control of the B&O which was granted on New Year’s Eve of 1962 and became official on February 4, 1963. While the two companies combined much of their management, the railroads themselves retained their separate identities. Then in April of 1987 the B&O was merged into the C&O and at that time, almost a quarter century after the Chesapeake and Ohio had gained control, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ceased to exist.

Make some Intellectual Property History this week!

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