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Category Archives: Patent and Trademark

The Story of the American Inventor Denied a Patent Because He Was a Slave

The Story of the American Inventor Denied a Patent Because He Was a Slave, Paleofuture (Aug. 28, 2018) Brian L. Frye

“The world of invention is famous for its patent disputes. But what happens when your dispute wasn’t with another inventor but whether the Patent Office saw you as a person at all? In 1864, a black man named Benjamin T. Montgomery tried to patent his new propeller for steamboats. The Patent Office said that he wasn’t allowed to patent his invention. All because he was enslaved. Benjamin T. Montgomery was born into slavery in Virginia in 1819. It’s believed that he learned to read and write from a young age, something not permitted of most slaves because white slaveowners believed that knowledge might lead to rebellions. Montgomery’s literacy gave him a leg up in his later pursuit of everything from surveying to architectural drafting. He even became the first black public official in the state of Mississippi after the Civil War as a Justice of the Peace. But it was his proficiency with machines that would make him notable for the history books—provided mainstream American history books covered such things. Montgomery invented a number of machines, and documents from the 19th century claim that they involved incredibly high levels of skill to manufacture. But the precise number of inventions by Montgomery has been lost to history. The one invention that we now know the most about was his new propeller for steamboats. He tried to patent it in 1864 but the U.S. Patent Office rejected his application because he was a slave…” [h/t Mary Whisner]

  • See also Invention of a Slave, 68 Syracuse L. Rev. 181 (2018) – “On June 10, 1858, the Attorney General issued an opinion titled Invention of a Slave concluding that a slave owner could not patent a machine invented by his slave, because neither the slave owner nor his slave could take the required patent oath. The slave owner could not swear to be the inventor, and the slave could not take an oath at all. The Patent
    Office denied at least two patent applications filed by slave owners, one of which was filed by Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi,
    who later became the President of the Confederate States of America. But it also denied at least one patent application filed by a free African-American inventor, because African-Americans could not be citizens of the United States under Dred Scott…”

Court Vacates Injunction Against Publishing the Law

EFF – Win for Public Right to Know: Court Vacates Injunction Against Publishing the Law – Industry Groups Want to Control Access to Legal Rules and Regulation: “San Francisco – A federal appeals court today ruled that industry groups cannot control publication of binding laws and standards. This decision protects the work of Public.Resource.org (PRO),… Continue Reading

Selecting Entities on Sites and Performing Tasks On Them Through Google

SEO by the Sea: “A patent granted to Google this week describes a way to easily identify an entity such as a restaurant on a touch device, and select it online and take some action associated with that entity based upon the context of a site the entity is found upon. Actions such as booking… Continue Reading

OpenCorporates ingesting registered trademarks from multiple sources and reconciling them to companies

“Here at OpenCorporates, our core mission has always been about making official public data about companies more widely available, more usable and more useful. Much of this comes from one of the 120+ company registers we use as a primary source, but an increasing amount comes from other public sources, which now includes US and… Continue Reading

Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation

Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation, Alex Bell, Harvard University, Raj Chetty, Stanford University and NBER, Xavier Jaravel, London School of Economics, Neviana Petkova, Office of Tax Analysis, US Treasury, John Van Reenen, MIT and Centre for Economic Performance. December 2017. “We characterize the factors that determine who becomes… Continue Reading

Patent Law: A Primer and Overview of Emerging Issues

CRS report via FAS – Patent Law: A Primer and Overview of Emerging Issues, September 21, 2017 “In an increase over prior terms, the Supreme Court of the United States issued six opinions involving patent law during its October 2016 Term. These decisions addressed issues ranging from patent exhaustion, multi component products, and bio similar… Continue Reading

Apple employs former intel agents to squelch product and tech leaks

William Turton, The Outline – Leaked recording: Inside Apple’s global war on leakers – Former NSA agents, secrecy members on product teams, and a screening apparatus bigger than the TSA. “A recording of an internal briefing at Apple earlier this month obtained by The Outline sheds new light on how far the most valuable company… Continue Reading

New on LLRX – Competitive Intelligence – A Selective Resource Guide – Updated June 2017

Via LLRX – Sabrina I. Pacifici has completely revised and updated her guide, which she first published in 2005 and has updated yearly since that time. A wide range of free sites with expertly sourced content specific to researchers focused on business, finance, government data, analysis and news from the US and around the world,… Continue Reading

EFF – Supreme Court Victory for Case in Right to Refill Printer Cartridge

EFF – “The Supreme Court struck a blow today [PDF] for your right to own the things you buy, reversing a lower court decision that had given patent owners the power to sue customers who paid in full for a patented item but then used it in a way the patent owner didn’t care for.… Continue Reading

EFF – Supreme Court Ends Texas Grip On Patent Cases

Daniel Nazer – EFF: “Today the Supreme Court issued a decision that will have a massive impact on patent troll litigation. In TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, the court ruled that patent owners can sue corporate defendants only in districts where the defendant is incorporated or has committed acts of infringement and has a regular… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals opinion – Google is not a generic name

Elliott v. Google, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 15-15809 D.C. No. 2:12-cv-01072-SMM – OPINION, May 16, 2017. “The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Google, Inc., in an action under the Lanham Act, seeking cancellation of the GOOGLE trademark on the ground that it is generic.… Continue Reading

Recent Developments in Patent Law (Spring 2017)

Lemley, Mark A. and Laupheimer, Madeleine and Yoon, James, Recent Developments in Patent Law (Spring 2017) (April 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2959553 “This paper summarizes the significant developments in patent law in the twelve months ending in April 2017. “ Continue Reading