Twenty-seven months after the much-vaunted launch of the Baby Fox folding portable typewriter, the Corona Typewriter Company instigated legal proceedings to force the Fox out of the marketplace.
Richard Polt Collection
The Baby Fox, designed by Norwegian Henry Peter Nordmark, had been launched in April 1917. Nordmark started work as a toolmaker for the Fox Typewriter Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1912 and quickly rose to the positions of works superintendent, chief engineer and designer. Nordmark, born in Fredrikstad, Norway, on July 15, 1888. died in Grand Rapids in April 1968.
The Baby Fox was heavily promoted upon launch, and very soon that promotion was paying off handsomely, with orders from across the globe for the little back-folding portable far exceeding the Fox company's capacity to meet demand.
The result of this early sales success brought rich dividends for Fox.
But then in July 1919, Corona moved. The case was heard by Clarence William Sessions (1859-1931), a judge of the United States Court, Western District of Michigan.
On August 27, 1920, Judge Sessions made his decision in favour of Corona:
Fox relied on "folding typewriter" precedent patents issued to Samuel Lee Condé (1837-1919) in 1894 (patent numbers 514910 to 514912), Zalmon Gilbert Sholes (1864-1917) in 1896 (patent numbers 557617 to 557619) and Mexican Manuel Sebastian Carmona (patent number 661849) for a stenography machine in 1900. Corona defended patents assigned to it and issued to Franklin Sebastian Rose (1856-1905) in 1904 and posthumously in 1915, Otto Petermann (1875-1961) in 1914 and Emmit Girdell Latta (1849-1925) in 1915.
Fox did not end up appealing Sessions' decision. For one reason, the first case had proved extremely costly to defend. Fox did go on making typewriters, for almost two years. But eventually the Baby Fox did die - of natural causes. Fox's business slid downhill rapidly after the Corona case and the company went broke in 1922. That's what ultimately stopped production. But Corona, I guess, could still claim the credit.
Wesley Henry Bennington bought the Fox plant to make the Xcel syllabic typewriter. See my post on it here.
Typewriter Topics, August 1922