The United Shoe Machinery Company

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"United Shoe Machinery Building, Federal St., under construction," 1929. In 1929, a new Art Deco corporate headquarters was built in Boston, Massachusetts. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Digital Commonwealth.

Interestingly, shoe manufacturers did not have the option of purchasing the machines that would produce and combine the components of each shoe. Companies instead were required to rent machines from the manufacturers, who retained patents for these inventions. This structure allowed the innovators of the shoemaking industry, such as McKay and Goodyear, Jr., to receive a steady flow of royalties from each shoe produced in factories that rented their technologies.

In 1899, the machine-leasing companies of Goodyear and McKay merged to found the United Shoe Machinery Company (USMC) of Beverly, Massachusetts.

The USMC owned seventy percent of patents for shoe-manufacturing machinesa position that eventually led them to monopoly status. In 1913, the United States government tried to break up this monopolization and sued the company in an antitrust lawsuit that was eventually brought before the US Supreme Court. The suit, United States v. Winslow, failed. Through a series of mergers, the USMC is now part of the Black & Decker Corporation.