The Supreme Court refused yesterday to hear an appeal by Western Union International against rate increases by American Telephone & Telegraph Co.
The increases; which took effect on Jan. 10, brought the rates paid by the communications companies classified as international record carriers up to the level of those paid by firms classified as domestic specialized carriers.
ATT boosted the charges for IRCs after the Federal Communications Commission ruled that the services provided by the two types of carriers were essentially identical.
In its court brief; Western Union said the rate change would double the amounts IRCs pay ATT for interconnection facilities and would cost it about $1 million a year.
The Supreme Court also said yesterday it will rule whether a company that contracts for the exclusive right to manufacture a not-yet-patented item must continue to make prolonged royalty payments if the inventor fails to get a patent.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the answer is no.
Jane Aronson, an Illinois resident, submitted a patent application for a new kind of key ring in 1955. Then she and Quick Point Pencil Co. negotiated a contract in 1956 which gave the company the exclusive right to manufacture and sell the keyholder. In exchange, Quick Point promised to pay the woman a 5 percent royalty, to be reduced to 2.5 percent if no patent were granted within five years. Quick Point agreed to pay these royalties for as long as it continued to manufacture the keyholders.
Aronson never was able to obtain a patent on the keyholder, but Quick Point paid a total $203,964 in royalties under the agreement until October 1975. Then it went to court seeking a declaration that the contract was unenforceable and that it had no further liability to make royalty payment under the license.
A U.S. district court judge decided the contract was valid and Quick Point had the continuing liability to make royalty payments for as long as it manufacturers the keyholders. The 8th Circuit reversed that ruling 2 to 1.
The Supreme Court left untouched a ruling that unions said could deal a severe blow to labor's efforts to organize and represent agricultural workers.
The justices refused to review a decision reached by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last December in a case involving East Coast apple pickers.
At issue was whether government officials exclude as unavailable for temporary work U.S. residents who seek more benefits from agricultural employers than the minimum level guaranteed ny the government.
East Coast growers recruit apple pickers from April to July each year. In 1976 and 1977, as many as 5,000 Jamaicans were hired under a federal program allowing for importation of foreign workers if U.S. workers are "unavailable."
At the same time, from 2,000 to 4,000 Puerto Rican farm workers were ready to help pick the apples - but under Puerto Rican law the island's secretary of labor is barred from releasing Puerto Rican residents for itinerant work for compensation that doesn't at least match "wage benefit package."
Because the Puerto Ricans could not work at a certain wage level, they were classified by the U.S. Labor Department as unavailable, thus allowing a larger quota of foreign workers to be temporarily admitted.
If workers demanding more than Coast.
The Puerto Rican workers say the exclusion foreclosed their chance to negotiate with the growers for compensation high enough to allow the Puerto Ricans to work on the East the federal minimum level of benefits were included in the "available" work force under federal regulations, the inclusion 'would be used to require employers to meet whatever demands might be made by domestic workers," the appeals court ruled.
In seeking Supreme Court review lawyers for the Puerto Rican workers argued: "This decision permits all agricultural employers to substitute temporary foreign workers for U.S. workers."
They said the loss in pay to U.S. workers in 1977 was some $5 million.