"During the 1900's Thomas Edison was in control of a trust called the Motion Picture Patents Company or "Edison Trust". Founded in December of 1908, the trust had control over all major film companies, the leading distributor, and the biggest supplier of raw film. At the time of the formation of MPPC, Thomas Edison owned most of the patents relating to motion pictures. The MPPC strongly enforced it's patents, and as a result many filmmakers responded by building their own cameras and moving to California in order to resist the Edison trust."
More at Resist Edison Trust (& thanks for the IFBRT mention RET :).