Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Patent Hard Truth

by Steve Reiss (

One day, not very long ago, there entered the Patent Office an honest, pleasant spoken, intelligent mechanic, who believed that he had found a new way to construct a certain article. Like a sensible man, he concluded that before he would pay out his hard-earned money to apply for a patent, that he would look among some drawings in his line of invention, to see whether anyone else had already conceived the same idea. In a few moments, to his great astonishment and dismay, he discovered. the same identical thing patented to somebody else several years before. Poor man, it was the bitterest kind of a pill for him to swallow. His countenance flushed, the sweat stood on his brow, he could hardly speak, but there was no help for him. He was not the first inventor, and he turned away with the suggestive remark, that “ At times one’s apt to find here at the Patent Office considerably more than he came for.”
Patent Office Building (circa 1880s)

Raymond, Curiosities of the US Patent System (1888), p. 15.

See also, Charles Dickens, A Poor Man's Tale of a Patent (1850)

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