MAE 170 History&Impact of the US PatentSystem



3:45 – 5:00 pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Tompkins 202



            1.         MacLeod, C.: “Inventing the Industrial Revolution: The English Patent System, 1660 – 1800”; Cambridge, 1988.

2.                  Walterscheid, E. C.: “To Promote the Progress of Useful Arts: American Patent Law and Administration, 1798– 1836.” Rothman & Co, 1998.

3.                  Waltersheid, E. C.: “The Nature of the Intellectual Property Clause: A Study in Historical Perspective.” W. S. Hein & Co., 2002.

4.                  Rines, R. H.: “Create or Perish: The Case for Inventions and Patents”,  MIT Open Courseware, available on-line at:

5.                  Sherer, F. M.: “Patents: Economics, Policy, and Measurement.” E. Elgar Publishing, 2005.


1.                  Pat K. Chew, Faculty-Generated Inventions: Who Owns The Golden Egg?, 1992 Wis. L. Rev. 259, 307.

2.                  United States v. Dubilier Condenser Corporation, 289 U.S. 178, amended, 289 U.S. 706 (1933).

3.                  Atlantic Works vs. Brady: U. S. Supreme Court, 107US192,200; 1883.

4.                  Graham vs. John Deere; Calmar vs. Cook Chemical; Colgate-Palmolive vs. Cook Chemical.

5.                  Lincoln, A.: “Second Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions,” Phi Alpha Society of Illinois College at Jacksonville, February 11, 1859.

6.                  Sirilla, G. M.: Paper on the evolution of obviousness in patent law; The John Marshal Law Review; v.32, no.3, Spring 1999.


INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Charles A. Garris (202-994-3646 &


OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday  5:30—6:30 P.M, Phillips T737

                                Thursday 5:30—6:30 P.M, Phillips T737             



            Understanding the role of the U. S. patent system in the development of the American capitalistic industrialized society as well as its historical underpinnings.  The influence of the founding fathers in incorporating the patent system in the U. S. Constitution will also be discussed.  The influence of the incentives created by the  patent system on the economic development of  the United States, and its potential impact on developing nations, will also be discussed.  The course will also delve into the dark side of patents whereby negative impact on industrial development can also occur. 


Week of                      Subject Matter

                        ENGLISH  PATENT SYSTEM


Jan. 14             Introductory Comments; English Patent System 1550 – 1660; Statute of Monopolies.

Jan. 21             Patronage and Monopoly; Industrial policies in the 17th Century,

Jan. 28             Development of the Patent System, 1660-1800.  French and Dutch Systems. Caveats.

                        Burghley policies.  Early examination.

Feb. 4              Judiciary and Enforcement of Patent Rights in the 1660-1800.  Motivation and Disincentives to Patent in the 17th & 18th Centuries.  Patents in a Capitalist Economy.





Feb. 11            The Creation of the U. S. Constitution and the Patent Clause

Feb. 18            The Views of Thomas Jefferson on patents and monopolies. Early comment and interpretation of the patent clause.

Feb. 25            The First Patent Bill (1789); Patent Acts of 1790 and 1793.     

Mar. 3              MIDTERM EXAM

Mar. 10            The Patent Act of 1836; Novelty; The Role of Specification.

Mar. 17            SPRING BREAK                               

Mar. 24            The Judiciary Process from 1798 – 1836.

March 31         Inventorship: Case Law;  Novelty: Case Law

April 7              Obviousness: Case Law

April 14            Influence of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

April 21            The Modern Economics of the Patent System

April 28            Project Presentations

May 6              FINAL EXAM (Date Tentative)

PROJECT:  Teams of 2 students will research a great American inventor and write a formal paper on the process of discovery with regard to that inventor and how the U. S. patent system influenced the behavior and actions of that inventor.  Research should include a study of patent litigation and the issues that evolved.  Possible inventors for study include: Wright Bros, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Job, George Washington Carver, Nikola Tesla, Elisha Otis, Eli Whitney, Alexander Bell, George Eastman,  George Westinghouse, etc. 

Grading System

Course grades are based on the Midterm Exam (30%), project (30%), and one comprehensive Final Exam (40%).