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Re: [ARSCLIST] Two questions about Deutsche Grammophon
From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Roger Kulp wrote:
> When did Brunswick stop issuing Deutsche Gramophon/Polydor classical 78s in
> the US ? Was it as late as 1938, when Columbia bought out American Record?
> Does anybody have a listing of all of those that Brunswick put out ?
----- I have no catalogues - someone will. The American Music Lover reviewed
many records - it must be possible to see when they had no more Brunswick
input of the DG/Polydor material. It seems to me that the matrix exchange
agreement worked both ways, and that it was the GE light-ray system used by
Brunswick that was for a time adopted by DG ca. 1927.
> I have seen where DGG had to cede back the use of Nipper,as part of war
> reparations.Was this this the case.and is there a detailed account of this
> anywhere ?
Roger, this is complicated, but not really much more than the rest of the
record industry. I shall give details that may be too much for you, but this
way they will be set down for further reference. However, even more details
have been left out!
The matter involves Polyphon Musikwerke AG so named in 1895, but founded on
the basis of an earlier company Brachhausen & Riesener already existing in
It also involves Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft founded by the brothers
Joseph (always in Germany) and Emile Berliner on 6 December 1898, converted
into Deutsche Grammophon-Aktiengesellschaft on 27 June 1900, and the shares
were shortly thereafter sold to the Gramophone & Typewriter Limited in
London. It hence became a daugther company.
It also involves the International Zonophone Company (Frank Seaman's
ungentlemanly creation) and the precautionary German trade mark registration
of Zonophon by Deutsche Grammophon on 7 March 1900. Eldridge Johnson's
intervention and US business details not brought here caused the creation of
the German company International Zonophone Company m.b.H. on 28 November
1904, and this company, wholly owned by Deutsche Grammophon, then became the
registered Zonophon trade mark holder on 16 July 1906. It should be noted
that in Germany a trade mark can only be sold if the business that owns it is
sold in the same deal.
During WW1 Deutsche Grammophon and Polyphon and the rest of the companies
(International Talking Machine Co (Lindström): Odeon, Beka, etc.) all
coexisted, but on 24 April 1917 Deutsche Grammophon was confiscated as Alien
property and sold to Polyphon Musikwerke AG, which subsequently changed its
name to Polyphon-Werke AG. Despite Germany losing the war the property of the
Gramophone Company was not returned (causing amongst other things the
creation of the notorious Opera Disc Company records and the "dogless
gramophone" that infringed VTMC's copyright in the US).
A lot of material and rights reverted to the Gramophone Company in 1931 as a
compromise obtained via the Mixed Arbitral Tribunal settlement, but the
Nipper trademark remained as the Deutsche Grammophon trademark in Germany.
One reason was undoubtedly that the German trade marks act stipulates that a
trademark can only change owner with the business it relates to. I shall not
go into the various dealings concerning DG, Telefunken, Siemens in the 1930s
and '40s. However, it is important to note that in an agreement dated 5 July
1949 Deutsche Grammophon accepted not to use the German trade mark any more
and to give Electrola Gesellschaft m.b.H. an unlimited use license on 1 July
1951. This company then re-filed applications for Nipper trademarks in
However, still today, Deutsche Grammophon have in their possession metals
that "really" belong to the successors of the Gramophone Company, EMI, and
because the Deutsche Grammophon was the matrixing and pressing plant in the
acoustic period, these are frequently closer to the original wax surface than
the metals held by EMI. Historic Masters Ltd. that licenses metals for vinyl
re-issue has been so fortunate as to gain access to these metals for some of
their prestiguous re-issues. Alfred Clark had tried to get the metals to
England in 1917 by offering ingots of copper in return, but this was
prevented by the war cabinet - they were afraid the copper would be used for
Electrola is the last company/trade mark involved in this German story. When
electrical recording became foreseeable, the Gramophone Company could not be
without activities and sales in Germany, and they took advantage of the fact
that the confiscation of 1917 had completely forgotten the International
Zonophone Company m.b.H., which was inactive. In 1925 the owner, the
Gramophone Company in London, re-activated this sleeping company and
performed a name change into Electrola Gesellschaft m.b.H., and this company
filed for registration of the trade mark Electrola for electrically recorded
records on 24 December 1925. This quick action took the German market by
For the above condensed history I have drawn on facts from a delightful book
by Franz Schorn, a trade mark specialist with Electrola and Lindström who
started his career in 1959 and with access to surprisingly well-preserved
files, despite two wars. The book is "Alte Schallplatten-Marken in
Deutschland", Florian Noetzel Verlag, Wilhelmshaven 1988. Furthermore I have
done my own company research at the EMI Music Archives in the early 1980s.
I have a few private comments on the above.
Deutsche Grammophon was no longer holder of the dog and gramophone trademark
in Germany, but they still consider their founding date to be the date of the
founding of the original Gramophone Company/Berliner enterprise in Germany!
I personally consider that the present Deutsche Grammophon (obviously now
part of Polygram with Philips and Decca, rest their souls) has really raped
history by claiming that it was founded in 1898 and celebrating that date. It
was not - the company that was founded in 1898 was effectively stolen by
Polyphon, and it is the founding date of Polyphon Musikwerke AG 1895 that is
the correct founding date for the present company. However, that is not
nearly as prestigious, because they manufactured musical boxes and not