Amerian Airlines, Inc. v. North American Airlines, Inc.

PETITIONER: Amerian Airlines, Inc.
RESPONDENT: North American Airlines, Inc.
LOCATION: Hazlehurst Manufacturing Company

DOCKET NO.: 55
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 355 US 465 (1958)
ARGUED: Jan 30, 1958
DECIDED: Feb 03, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Amerian Airlines, Inc. v. North American Airlines, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 30, 1958 in Amerian Airlines, Inc. v. North American Airlines, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 35, American Airlines, Incorporated versus North American Airlines, Incorporated, and Civil Aeronautics Board.

Mr. Westwood.

Howard C. Westwood:

May it please the Court.

This case is here for the second time on certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The case arises under the Civil Aeronautics Act which provides for common carriers by air, a pattern of regulation generally similar to that provided by the Interstate Commerce Act for surface carriage.

It arises particularly under Section 411 of that Act, a Section that is modeled on Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Pursuant to that Section the Civil Aeronautics Board is authorized to institute proceedings against the air carriers where -- and if it finds after notice and hearing that an air carrier is engaged in an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive practice, it shall order such carrier to cease therefrom.

The petitioner, American Airlines, has been engaged in air transportation under that name for some quarter century.

It is one of the leading airlines in the country.

The respondent, North American Airlines began using that name a few years ago in its air transport operations in competition with the petitioner over the principal transcontinental route from New York to Los Angeles.

Because of the similarity between the name of the respondent and the long established name of the petitioner, the CAB instituted a proceeding against the respondent under Section 411.

After an extensive evidentiary hearing and the other procedural steps that are normal in such a case, the Board made its findings and rendered its opinion, it found that the names of the respondent and the petitioner were similar, that that similarity had caused substantial confusion on the part of the -- of the traveling public with respect to the identity of the two carriers, and it concluded that the respondent's use of a name thus similar and causing such confusion is an unfair method of competition or unfair practice in violation of Section 411.

The Board therefore ordered the respondent to cease using that name.

It also ordered the respondent to cease using any other name that would involve the word American.

The respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals, that Court reverse the Board, this is the first time it was before that Court.

It reversed the Board on the ground that a case of trade name confusion of this sort did not constitute a violation of Section 411 with which the CAB had the power to deal.

On certiorari, this Court reversed the Court of Appeals.

It held that the evidentiary findings as to substantial public confusion did disclose a Section 411 case.

The case was remanded by this Court to the Court of Appeals in order to enable that Court to determine whether the record sustained the evidentiary findings.

On remand, that Court without further brief or argument entered its judgment with a very brief opinion which is in question here, that is in question here in part.

Now, the first part of it is not in question here.

The first part was, as we say, quite in response to this Courts remand.

It examined the findings as to substantial public confusion.

It held that those findings were sustained by the evidence.

Therefore, it affirmed the order of the Civil Aeronautics Board requiring the respondent to cease using the name North American Airlines.

Now, there is no -- no petition for certiorari to this Court raising any question about that portion of the judgment and the opinion of the lower court.

Charles E. Whittaker:

(Inaudible) requiring them to stop right there?

Howard C. Westwood:

We -- that -- that is our view of the case.

Although, I think in fairness to the Court, it -- it must be confessed that there is some ambiguity as to whether we specifically raise that as an independent question.

Now, in the -- in our petition for certiorari, in our statement of the first question we've presented, we said that the court below went beyond the -- the purpose and scope of the remand.