Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Was the First US Patent, US Patent No. 1?.

by Steve Reiss of

A commonly asked patent trivia question is what was the first US patent granted for? Another question is what was US Patent No.1 granted for?

Actually, these similarly sounding questions have very different answers.

The first patent ever granted was on July 31, 1790 to Mr. Samuel Hopkins, of  Philadelphia, PA. The invention described in the patent was for Potash (an impure form of potassium carbonate). This patent was granted under the Patent Act of 1790, which did not provide for patent numbers. The Patent Act of 1790 also did not provide for a "Patent Office". Rather, a committee of the Secretary of State, Secretary of War and the Attorney General were authorized to make a decision on the merit of a properly documented petition. Hopkins' patent was signed by President George Washington, Attorney General Edmund Randolph, and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

The First US Patent
The "X" number was not part of the original document. For more information on the X-series of US patents (1790-1836), see this article on X-patents.

US Patent No. 1 was granted to on July 13, 1836 to Mr. John Ruggles, of Maine. The invention described in the patent was for a traction wheel. This patent was granted under the Patent Act of 1836, under which, the numbering of patents was started. Coincidentally or conspiratorially, John Ruggles was a US senator at this time and Chairman of the Committee On Patents for the 25th Congress, which enacted the Patent Act of 1836.

US Patent Number 1

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