Frank Lewis DYER

(Washington, 1870-Ventnor, 1941)

dyer frank portrait

Jean-Claude SEGUIN


George Washington Dyer (Calais, 1824-Washington, 13/04/1889) épouse

  • Mary Elizabeth Shaw Kelley (1828-1863). Descendance:
    • George Leland Dyer (Calais, 26/08/1849-02/04/1914) épouse Susan Hart Palmer. Descendance:
      • George Palmer Dyer (Montevideo, 07/02/1876-Santa Barbara, 22/06/1948).
      • Susan Hart Dyer (Maryland, 20/12/1880-21/10/1922)
    • Grace King Dyer (1855-1935)
    • Mary Lydia Dyer (1856-1925)
    • Philip Sidney Dyer (1857-1919)
    • Richard Nott Dyer (Maine, 01/09/1858-Orange, 13/01/1914). Descendance:
      • Richard T. Dyer (East Orange, 10/08/1888-) épouse Jane [Dyer]
    • Paul Danford Dyer (1860-1890)
    • Emily White Dyer (1863-1937)
  • Kate Huntress (Lowell, 08/03/1835-Washington, 26/02/1902). Descendance :
    • Frank Lewis Dyer (Washington, 02/08/1870-Ventnor, 04/06/1941)
      • épouse (Chelsea, 31/03/1892) c (Pembroke, 07/1869-Montclair, 05/1923). Descendance :
        • John Wadsworth Dyer (Washington, 11/12/1892-Clearwater, 26/05/1970)
        • Frank Wadsworth Dyer (Washington, 11/02/1894-New Jersey, 1956) épouse Hannah, Pauline Wiberg (Saint-Paul, 25/12/1889-Washington, 19/11/1963)
      • Isabel Dawson Archer (New York, 07/02/1884-Forest Lake Club, 26/07/1930)
    • Leonard Huntress Dyer (Washington, 13/05/1873-Floride, 16/11/1955) épouse
      • Josephine Dalles Duncan (La Grange, 11/11/1881-la Grange, 26/11/1975). Descendance :
        • Duncan Dyer (24/04/1906-Greenwich, 27/03/1907)
        • Katherine Huntress Dyer (Grenwich, 15/06/1908-Saint John, 26/06/1998) épouse Elmer Robertson Puddington (Saint John, 17/05/1898-Red Bay, 17/11/1971). Descendance :
          • Elmer Roberston Puddington Jr (Saint-John, 19/05/1932-Burlington, 29/06/1988).
          • enfant
          • enfant
      • Jessica Adelaide "Jessie" Hofstetter (1886-1971).


Les origines (1870-1903)

D'une famille originaire de Nouvelle-Angleterre et fils d'un avocat, Frank L. Dyer est né dans la capitale des États-Unis où il est installé, avec les siens, lors du recensement de 1880. Il fait sa scolarité à l'école publique de Washington. En avril 1889, George W. Dyer décède et la presse lui consacre la note nécrologique suivante :

Death of Col. George W. Dyer.
Col. George W. Dyer, the prominent patent lawyer who died this morning, has resided in this city since 1863. He was a native of the state of Maine, and was educated at Yale and Bowdoin, being an alumnus of the last-named college. At the commencement of the war he became a member of the staff of the governor of Maine with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Subsequently he was appointed paymaster in the army, and as such was stationed in Washington and with the army of the Potomac from 1862 to 1869. After being mustered out of the military service he immediately resumed the practice of law, making a specialty of patents and taking a leading position. In the Patent Office he was best known for his connection with the important contests over the right to the telephone, the electric light, electric railways and other large interests. He was largely employed by Mr. Edison.
Col Dyer was twice married, his first wife being Mary E.S. Kelley, by whom he had eight children, seven of whom survive. In 1868 he married Kate Huntress, of Tewkesbury, Mass., who, with two children, survive him.

The Evening Star, Washington, samedi 13 avril 1889, p. 1.

Frank L. Dyer poursuit ses études à l'université de Columbia (1891) et entame, en 1892, une carrière d'avocat, comme son père, dans le secteur des brevets, dont il devient un spécialiste. Il épouse, cette même année, Annie, Augusta Wadsworth. Le couple est recensé en 1900 à Montclair. Frank L. Dyer, pour son propre compte, va poursuivre ses activités professionnelles dans sa vie natale jusqu'en 1897, date à partir de laquelle il collabore avec son frère, lui-même avocat dans le secteur des brevets. Le partenariat va se poursuivre jusqu'en 1903. il s'intéresse également aux questions mécaniques :

I have always been interested in mechanical matters. I am a member, or rather, an associate member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, my membership in that society being based on my work as an inventor.

United States of America, Petitioner v. Motion Picture Patents Co., and others Defendants. nº 889, sept. Sess., 1912. p. 1470.

Les années Edison (1903-1912)

En 1903, il s'installe à Orange (New Jersey) et prend en charge, comme avocat, l'épineuse question des brevets pour lesquels Thomas A. Edison a déjà dépensé plus de 100 000 $ par an. Frank L. Dyer va travailler en étroite collaboration avec le génie de Menlo Park. Dès les premiers jours de 1904, la presse rend compte de sa promotion au sein de l'entreprise :

A Responsible Position.
The friends of Mr. Frank L. Dyer will be pleased to learn that he has been permanently retained as general counsel and attorney for all of the interests of Thomas A. Edison. As general counsel, Mr. Dyer will have sole control of all of the legal business of Mr. Edison, as well as that of the twenty or more different companies.
The position is one of great responsibility and importance, as it will include the conduct of the large patient litigation, on behalf of Mr. Edison and his companies, as well as all matters of general law that may arise.

The Montclair Times, Montclair, samedi 30 janvier 1904, p. 1.

1905 edison legal department
The Legal Department
"Illustrated Interviews. Nº LXXXII.-MR. THOMAS ALVA EDISON"
by Francis Arthur Jones

The Strand Magazine, vol XXIX, janvier-juin 1905, p. 418.

Dans un article publié dans la revue The Strand Magazine en 1905, Frank L. Dyer donne des informations sur le fonctionnement de son service "The Legal Department" et sur la question des brevets :

The legal department of the Edison laboratory is under the charge of Mr. Frank L. Dyer, who employs a numerous staff, and who is, perhaps, one of the hardest-worked individuals in the building. Although a member of a prominent firm of patent lawyers in New York, he spends practically his entire time at the laboratory, and there is little in regard to Mr. Edison's numerous inventions with which he is not acquainted. The writer had an interesting conversation with Mr. Dyer regarding his department, in the course of which he said:-
"Mr. Edison's work being based almost entirely on new inventions, a large part or my work has to do with patents and suits based thereon. Not only has Mr. Edison been by long odds the most prolific inventor and patentee of any time, having filed more than one thousand one hundred applications in this country alone, for which over seven hundred patents have so far been granted, and more than two thousand applications for foreign patents in most of the countries of the world, but numerous and frequent applications for patents are being filed by experimenters and workmen connected with the several companies that are identified with the Edison interests, such as the National Phonograph Company, the Edison Manufacturing Company, the Edison Manufacturing, the Edison Storage Battery Company, the Edison Portland Cement Company, and about twenty others. Consequently there are always several hundred active applications for patents pending in this country and abroad, the special details of which have to be remembered in order that they may be properly prosecuted.
"It is, of course, physically impossible for me or my department to attend personally to the many suits against infringers of the Edison patents all over the world, although they are conducted under my own direction and some by me personally. In this work, however, I have the assistance of other lawyers in New York, Chicago, Washington, London, Paris, and elsewhere. In addition to the patent suits, there are many other legal actions of which this department has charge and many of which it directly conducts, such as the usual damage suits for personal injuries, actions based on contracts, matters of insurance, real estate, etc.

JONES, 1905: 418-419.

La question des brevets, avec le temps, s'envenime et le 21 mars 1908, se tient une réunion à l'Auditorium Annex de Chicago sous la responsabilité de l'Edison Company et de plusieurs sociétés qui exploitent des appareils sous sa licence. C'est Frank L. Dyer qui résume la situation et lance une véritable déclaration de guerre contre la concurrence :

After Important Meeting in Chicago, Attorney Issues Statement Defining Corporation's Intentions.
It developed yesterday that at an important conference held at the Auditorium Annex recently by representatives of the Edison Manufacturing company and manufacturers who are operating moving picture machines under the Edison licenses, it was decided to prosecute to a finish the war now going on between the rival makers of moving picture films.
Among those who participated in the deliberations were William E. Gilmore. vice president and general manager of the Edison Manufacturing company of Orange. N.J.; J. A. Berst. American manager of Pathe Freres, Paris; W. N. Selig. president of the Selig Polyscope company. Chicago; George K. Spoor, president of the Essanay company, Chicago, and resident members of the Film Service association.
Frank L. Dyer of New York, general counsel for the Edison Manufacturing company, issued the following statement regarding the controversy over the patent situation in the moving picture business:
"As is well known, licenses under the Edison patents have been taken out by the principal manufacturers of this country. The patents have been recognized by these manufacturers as dominating the art and royalties under them are being paid. The claim has been advanced by the Biograph company that they can operate independently of the Edison patents because the Court of Appeals in New York decided that an early form of camera in which unevenly spaced pictures were taken was not an infringement of one of those patents.
"The suit against the Biograph company did not Involve the Edison film patent, whlch covers all modern moving pictures, and in my opinion is infringed by all pictures manufactured in this country or imported from abroad. The American manufacturers who have signified their willingness to pay royalties under the Edison film patent would certainly not do so if they had not believed that the Edison patents were valid and had to be recognized.
"Suits have already been brought in Chicago for Infringements of the Edison film patent. Two things may be taken seriously by the public: First, the Edison company proposes to the utmost of its ability to assert its right to the Edison patents, and to prosecute all infringers, wherever they may be located.
"Second, the Edison company stands behind all its licensees, and will see that they are fully protected in any patent suits which may be brought against them for using licensed motion pictures made by any one of its regular licensees."

The Inter Ocean, Chicago, dimanche 22 mars 1908, p. 7.

Le combat que mène Frank L. Dyer n'est peut-être pas sans conséquence sur le plan personnel, puisqu'il va remplacer William E. Gilmore à la tête des sociétés Edison, en juillet 1908. À cette époque, l'usine d'Orange produit et commercialise les inventions d'Edison et compte plus de 5000 employés. Le chiffre d'affaires s'élève plusieurs millions de dollars par an. Dans le prolongement de la "guerre" des brevets dont il est le principal fer de lance, il va se lancer dans la constitution de la Motion Picture Patents Company (New Jersey, 9 septembre 1908) dont l'objet est d'unir les principales sociétés cinématographiques pour combattre, en particulier, les productions étrangères et en devient, naturellement, le président.

selig william 1908
Motion Picture Patents Company (18 Décembre 1908)
[devant de gauche à droite] Frank L. Dyer, Siegmund Lubin, William T. Roch, Thomas A. Edison, J. Stuart Blackton, Jeremiah J. Kennedy, George Keine et George K. Spoor.

À l'été 1909, il se rend en Europe pour faire le tour des intérêts de Thomas A. Edison sur le vieux continent. Il va en Grande-Bretagne, en France et en Allemagne :

President of Edison Companies Makes Cheerful Prophecy on Leaving for Europe.
ORANGE, N. J., July 19.-The return of prosperity and the revival of business throughout the country have made it necessary for Frank L. Dyer, of Montclair, president of all the Edison companies, to make a special trip to Europe to look after the inventor's interests there.
Mr. Dyer will sail today on the Minnewaska, of the American Transport Line. He will spend ten days in England, and then make a trip through France and Germany.
"Business is booming," said Mr. Dyer.
We are on the eve of one of the greatest industrial booms the country has ever experienced.

The Washington Post, Washington, samedi 10 juillet 1909, p. 2.

Proche de Thomas A. Edison, Frank L. Dyer va se lancer dans la rédaction d'une volumineuse biographie du savant avec la collaboration de Thomas. C. Martin, Edison: His Life and Inventions qui est publiée en novembre 1910. Cette année-là, il est toujours recensé à Montclair. Frank L. Dyer est, alors, une figure essentielle de l'entreprise commerciale d'Edison et occupe les sièges de président, vice-président ou directeur général de la plupart des sociétés du groupe. Il est donc normal qu'il se retrouve en première ligne, lorsque le gouvernement fédéral va intenter, le 15 août 1912, une action anti-trust contre la Motion Picture Patents Company à cause de sa position de casi monopole dans le secteur cinématographique. À cette occasion, Frank L. Dyer va rappeler les fonctions qu'il occupe dans l'entreprise :

To July, 1908, I acted as general counsel for Mr. Edison, and in addition my time was almost entirely occupied as the executive head of his various corporations. I was President of the National Phonograph Company, a concern that manufactured and sold phonograph records and also sold phonographs; I was general manager of the Edison Phonograph Works, a concern that manufactured Edison photographs; I was Vice-President of the Edison Manufacturing Company, a concern that manufactured and sold momving picture films and sold Edison Kinetoscopes, which were made by the Edison Phonograph Works, and which also manufactured and sold Edison primary batteries. I was President of the Edison Business Phonograph Company, a concern that sold Edison business phonographs, which were made by the Edison Phonograph Works. I was President of the Bates Manufacturing Company, a concerne that sold the Bates Numbering Machine made by the Edison Phonograph Works. I was Vice-President of the Edison Storage Battery Company, a concern that manufactured and sold Edison Storage Batteries. I was Director of the Edison Portland Cement Company, a concerne that manufactured and sold Edison Portland cement. I was a Director of several of the foreign corporations, whose names I do not now recall, and had the executive management of the various concerns which sold Edison products in Great Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Argentine. I was President of the Motion Picture Patents Company from December, 1908, to November, 1912, and I have been a Director of the General Film Company since its formation.
I was general counsel for Mr. Edison from April, 1903, to July, 1908, and organized at the Edison Laboratory a well equipped legal department that had charge of Mr. Edison's patents and legal work.

United States of America, Petitioner v. Motion Picture Patents Co., and others Defendants. nº 889, sept. Sess., 1912. p. 1470.

Au bout de cinq ans à la tête du groupe Edison, Frank L. Dyer va abandonner ses fonctions afin de pouvoir se consacrer à ses multiples autres responsabilités :

Mr. Dyer, besides having the executive management of many of Mr. Edison's companies, had other interests which demanded part of his time. These interests have grown so extensive of late that he has felt for some time that he was unable to do full justice to the multitudinous duties which his various connections involved, and as a duty to himself, to Mr. Edison and to the enterprises with which he was connected, decided that he must curtail his numerous responsibilities. After reflection he came to the conclus on that he would withdraw from his service with the Edison companies, and, therefore, tendered his resignation to Mr. Edison, who accepted it with regret.

The Talking Machine World, vol. VIII, nº12, New York, 15 décembre 1912, p. 42.

dyer frank 1912 portrait banquet
"Dinner at Essex County Country Club in Honor of Retiring President Dyer"
The Talking Machine World, vol. VIII, nº12, New York, 15 décembre 1912, p. 42.

Et après... (1913-1941)

Si Frank L Dyer a renoncé à défendre les intérêts du groupe Edison, il est président de la General Film Company, fondée en 1910 afin de distribuer les films produits para les titulaires de licence de la Motion Pictures Patents Company.

dyer frank residence
Residence of FRANK L. DYER, Parkhurst Place
The Montclair Times, Montclair, samedi 1er mars 1913, p. 18.

Dans le cadre de ses activités, il va prendre part, en 1913 et 1914, au débat sur la  censure cinématographique qu'il condamne. En outre, il doit faire face aux attaques fédérales contre la General Film Company et sa position hégémonique. En [juin] 1915, il cède sa place de directeur à Jacques Albert Berst et réside à Irvington (recensement). En décembre 1916, il met en vente sa propriété de Montclair. Par la suite, il se consacre à l'expertise des brevets, il s'intéresse aux "machines parlantes" et au disque de longue durée plus connu comme "talking book". 

Il se retire en 1929. En 1930, il est recensé à Ventnor. Il décède en 1941.

dyer frank sepulture
Rosedale Cemetery
Monclair, Essex County, New Jersey.


DYER Frank Lewis et Thomas Commerford MARTIN, Edison His Life and Inventions, Tome 1 et Tome 2, New York/Londres, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1929, 528 p. 

JONES Francis Arthur, "Illustrated Interviews. Nº LXXXII.-MR. THOMAS ALVA EDISONNº LXXXII.-MR. THOMAS ALVA EDISON", The Strand Magazine, vol XXIX, janvier-juin 1905, p. 415-424.

"Who's Who in the Film Game. Facts and Fancies About a Man You Know or Ought to Know", Motography, vol. VI, nº 1, juillet 1911, p. 29.