The U.S. Patent System Part 6: Key Dates in the History of the American Patent System

About the U.S. Patent system, key dates in the history of the American Patent System from the last several hundred years.

The U.S. Patent System Today

Some Key Dates of the American Patent System

--1641. First patent on North American continent: to Samuel Winslow by Massachusetts General Court for method of making salt.

--1787. U.S. Constitution gives Congress power to legislate for patents and copyrights.

--1790. President Washington signs 1st patent bill into law which is soon followed by 1st copyright law. Authority lodged in a Board which is located in Dept. of State. On July 31 1st U.S. patent is granted Samuel Hopkins.

--1836. Establishes Patent Office as separate entity, still lodged in Dept. of State, but headed by a Commissioner of Patents.

--1842. Designs made patentable.

--1849. Patent Office transferred to newly created Dept. of the Interior.

--1859. Copyright matters transferred from Dept. of State to Dept. of the Interior, and Patent Office adds a "Librarian of Copyrights" to its staff.

--1870. First law regarding trademarks but only in regard to other nations and Indian tribes. Copyright matters transferred to Librarian of Congress.

--1887. U.S. joins International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (patents and trademarks). Member governments give to other nationals what they give to own citizens.

--1905. Trademark laws applied to interstate commerce. This made them useful in U.S. and gave them real importance they have today.

--1922. Patent Office transferred to Dept. of Commerce by Executive Order.

--1930. Plants become patentable. In 1931 Henry F. Bosenberg obtains Plant Patent No. 1 for "a climbing rose . . ."

--1939. Registration of copyrights for prints and labels transferred to Library of Congress, ending all connection of Patent Office with copyright matters.

--1952. All patent laws of and since 1870 codified in one act with many changes and with revisions to clarify language.

--1967. Patent Office begins move to present quarters in Crystal Plaza, a complex on U.S. Highway 1, between Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Va.

--1970. Senate ratifies Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the revision of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

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