14. Which turn of the century inventor and industrialist tried to use patents to monopolize the early movie making industry, which in turn made Hollywood a desirable destination because it was far from his grasp?
From Quiz Hollywoodland
Answer: Thomas Edison
Edison was famous for using patents and the law to his advantage in business. A patent is only as good as the holder's willingness to defend it in court. If the holder does not exert his rights, then the patent is meaningless. Edison was wealthy enough and ruthless enough to use the patent system mercilessly. He formed the Motion Picture Patents Company, also known as the Edison Trust, in 1908 in an attempt to monopolize the early film making industry.
On the East Coast in places like New York and Chicago, Edison had the resources in place to pursue his patent rights with relative ease. The cost of enforcing his patents on the West Coast, however, was prohibitive because it would take private detectives and California lawyers to sue in the state. For this reason, many independent film makers headed west.
Beyond this, the US Ninth Circuit Court, based in San Fransisco, was not favorable to enforcing patents so early Hollywood began to flourish. It has also been postulated that the relative closeness of the Mexican border made California more attractive since the filmmakers could just head for the border to escape Edison. This, however, is more fanciful conjecture than provable fact. The distance from Edison's power base was enough to make the need to flee to Mexico highly unlikely. By 1915 the courts even in the East had ruled against Edison and his company for overreaching in what their patents protected but by that time the establishment of the film industry in California was well under way.
Phoenix Rising's tazman6619 found Edison's business practices to be patently unfair and wrote this question in solidarity with the early independent pioneers of the movie industry.