Henry Ford would have none of it. He wasn’t about to pay royalties on someone’s made-up patent, nor was he in the mood to limit his potential for production. Even in the earliest days he knew that mass production would be the key to driving down the prices of his cars and thereby making them truly affordable to all.
A lawsuit brought by the ALAM to force Ford out of business, or make him liable for millions of dollars in royalties, went on for years. In late 1909, just as the Model T was starting to sweep the nation, Judge Charles Hough of the Circuit of the Southern District of New York ruled against Ford. Ford was so dejected, he came close to selling his company to General Motors. Instead, he regrouped, posted a $350,000 bond and appealed the case.
In 1911, for the final trial, Ford built an automobile from Selden’s patent application and proved without a shadow of a doubt that it would not run. Moreover, as Ford pointed out, every manufacturer was using Otto’s version of an internal combustion engine, not Brayton’s. This time Ford won, and the auto industry in America became part of a true free enterprise system.
From there came the moving assembly line. Then Ford determined that, if America was going to build for consumers, then people needed to make more money to buy things. There were other business reasons, but he did double wages for his workforce; and the American Century started in earnest.
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