SEC v. Edwards, 540 U.S. 389, 5 (2004)

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Cite as: 540 U. S. 389 (2004)

Opinion of the Court

or a participation in the earnings of the enterprise, and thus to exclude schemes, such as respondent's, offering a fixed rate of return. Id., at 1284-1285. Second, it held that our opinions' requirement that the return on the investment be "derived solely from the efforts of others" was not satisfied when the purchasers had a contractual entitlement to the return. Id., at 1285. We conclude that it erred on both grounds.


"Congress' purpose in enacting the securities laws was to regulate investments, in whatever form they are made and by whatever name they are called." Reves v. Ernst & Young, 494 U. S. 56, 61 (1990). To that end, it enacted a broad definition of "security," sufficient "to encompass virtually any instrument that might be sold as an investment." Ibid. Section 2(a)(1) of the 1933 Act, 15 U. S. C. 77b(a)(1), and 3(a)(10) of the 1934 Act, 15 U. S. C. 78c(a)(10), in slightly different formulations which we have treated as essentially identical in meaning, Reves, supra, at 61, n. 1, define "security" to include "any note, stock, treasury stock, security future, bond, debenture, . . . investment contract, . . . [or any] instrument commonly known as a 'security.' " "Investment contract" is not itself defined.

The test for whether a particular scheme is an investment contract was established in our decision in SEC v. W. J. Howey Co., 328 U. S. 293 (1946). We look to "whether the scheme involves an investment of money in a common enterprise with profits to come solely from the efforts of others." Id., at 301. This definition "embodies a flexible rather than a static principle, one that is capable of adaptation to meet the countless and variable schemes devised by those who seek the use of the money of others on the promise of profits." Id., at 299.

In reaching that result, we first observed that when Congress included "investment contract" in the definition of security, it "was using a term the meaning of which had been


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