Newark Morning Ledger Co. v. United States, 507 U.S. 546, 10 (1993)

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Cite as: 507 U. S. 546 (1993)

Opinion of the Court

ton Chronicle Publishing Co. v. United States, 481 F. 2d 1240, 1247 (CA5 1973), cert. denied, 414 U. S. 1129 (1974).



"Goodwill" is not defined in the Code or in any Treasury Department Regulations. There have been attempts, however, to devise workable definitions of the term. In Metropolitan Bank v. St. Louis Dispatch Co., 149 U. S. 436 (1893), for example, this Court considered whether a newspaper's goodwill survived after it was purchased and ceased publishing under its old name. It ruled that the goodwill did not survive, relying on Justice Story's notable description of "goodwill" as

" 'the advantage or benefit, which is acquired by an establishment, beyond the mere value of the capital, stock, funds, or property employed therein, in consequence of the general public patronage and encouragement which it receives from constant or habitual customers, on account of its local position, or common celebrity, or reputation for skill or affluence, or punctuality, or from other accidental circumstances or necessity, or even from ancient partialities or prejudices.' " Id., at 446, quoting J. Story, Partnerships 99 (1841).

In Des Moines Gas Co. v. Des Moines, 238 U. S. 153 (1915), the Court described goodwill as "that element of value which inheres in the fixed and favorable consideration of customers, arising from an established and well-known and well-conducted business." Id., at 165. See also Los Angeles Gas & Electric Corp. v. Railroad Comm'n of California, 289 U. S. 287, 313 (1933) (distinguishing "going concern" from "good will" when fixing rates for public utilities).

Although the definition of goodwill has taken different forms over the years, the shorthand description of goodwill as "the expectancy of continued patronage," Boe v. Commis-


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