Response or Comment
A recent case before the Supreme Court of Washington raises some novel and interesting questions. A company engaged in the abstract business mortgaged its "records, bookt, plats." After suit was commenced to foreclose the mortgage, the mortgagor, who remained in possession, made photographic copies of the records and sold them to the defendant who had notice of the mortgage of the originals. The foreclosure resulted in a sale of the property, described as in the mortgage, to the plaintiff. Whether plaintiff knew at this time of the existence of the copies does not appear. Plaintiff is using the original records in the conduct of an abstract business and defendant is using the copies in competition with him. The action was brought to recover the copies. The court holds that it cannot be maintained because, assuming that the mortgage included the copies, the copies were not embraced in the sheriff's sale. It asserts, obiter, that the mortgagee might have enjoined the making of the copies, and it raises, but declines to answer, some other questions concerning the rights of the parties. Wintler Abstract Co. v. Sears (Wash., 1919), 184 Pac. 309.
Durfee, Edgar N. "The Legal Status of Abstract Books, Literary Property, Implied Contract of Secrecy, Unfair Trade." Mich. L. Rev. 18 (1920): 415-8.