This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Local statutes have required other classes of contracts to be in writing or to be proved by writing. Thus contracts of corporations exceeding a certain amount,1 or contracts of a married woman affecting the body of her estate,2 come within the provisions of some statutes. Part performance of such a contract does not make it enforceable against a married woman, since she has no capacity in these jurisdictions to bind herself except as indicated by statute;3 but under some statutes the married woman may enforce an oral contract though it cannot be enforced against her.4 Other contracts are required to be in writing only where the interests of third persons are concerned. Thus a contract whereby a vendor reserves title to the property sold and delivered to the vendee until the purchase price is paid is required by some statutes to be in writing when the interests of a third person is to be affected thereby.5 The statutes of the United States require assignments of patents to be in writing6 and signed by the assignor.7 Such assignment need not be recorded as between the parties,8 though it must be recorded as against a subsequent bona fide assignee from the same assignor.9 An oral contract to convey a patent right has been enforced in equity.10 This statute does not include contracts for the sale of the right to secure a patent not yet issued,11 nor to a contract to share in the proceeds of the sale of a patented article,12 nor to a license to make use of a patent.13
Mo. App. 179; Russell v. Briggs, 165 N. Y. 500; 53 L. R. A. 556; 59 X. E. 303; Howard v. Brower, 37 O. S. 402.
2 Dyer v. Graves, 37 Vt. 369; Clark v. Davidson, 53 Wis. 317; 10 N. W. 384; Patterson v. Cunningham, 12 Me. 506; Andrews v. Broughton, 78 Mo. App. 179; Russell v. Briggs, 165 N. Y. 500; 53 L. R. A. 556; 59 N. E. 303.
3 Howard v. Brower, 37 O. S. 402.
1 Curtis v. Mining Co., 113 N. C. 417; 18 S. E. 705. A contract in excess of such amount is void in toto and not merely as to the excess. Citizens' Savings Bank v. Vaughan, 115 Mich. 156; 73 N. W. 143. Such statute in North Carolina does not apply to foreign corporations. Rum-bough v. Improvement Co., 106 N. C. 461; 11 S. E. 528.
3 Percifield v. Black, 132 Ind. 384; 31 N. E. 955.
4 Lister v. Vowell, 122 Ala. 264; 25 So. 564.
5 Harp v. Guano Co., 99 Ga. 752; 27 S. E. 181; Mann v. Thompson, 86 Ga. 347; 12 S. E. 746.
6 Gates Iron Works v. Fraser, 153 U. S. 332; Baldwin v. Sibley, 1 Cliff. (U. S.) 150.
A Federal statute14 requires contracts with the United States to be "reduced to writing and signed by the contracting parties with their names at the end thereof." Such contract not thus executed is unenforceable.15 The scope of these statutes is often different from the statute of frauds, as they affect the capacity of the parties or the form of the contract. Logically they do not belong here, but rather in the following chapter. Their general similarity to the statute of frauds has caused mention of them in this connection. Another class of statutes concerns contracts of public corporations. This is probably the class most frequently met with in litigation. From its connection with the subject of the capacity of public corporations to make contracts, a discussion of it is postponed.16
7 Gordon v. Anthony, 16 Blatch. (U. S.) 234.
8 Case v. Redfield, 4 McLean (U. S.) 526; Hildreth v. Turner, 17 111. 184; McKernan v. Hite, 6 Ind. 428.
9 Perry v. Corning, 7 Blatchf. (U. S.) 195; Harrison v. Ingersoll, 56 Mich. 36; 22 N. W. 268.
10 Burke v. Partridge, 58 N. H. 349.
11Dalzell v. Mfg. Co., 149 U. S. 315; Harrigan v. Smith, 57 N. J. Eq. 635; 42 Atl. 579; reversing 40 Atl. 13; Jones v. Reynolds, 120 N. Y. 213; 24 N. E. 279.
12Blakeney v. Goode, 30 0. S. 351.
13 Jones v. Berger, 58 Fed. 1006; Nichols v. Marsh, 61 Mich. 509; 28 N. W. 699.
14 R. S. of U. S., Sec. 3744.
15 St. Louis Hay, etc., Co. v. United States, 191 U. S. 159; Monroe v. United States, 184 U. S. 524; South Boston Iron Co. v. United States, 118 U. S. 37; Clark v. United States 95 U. S. 539.
16 See Sec. 692.