Intellectual Property Timeline

Intellectual Property Timeline

1700 to 1900


The 1787 U.S. Constitution laid the groundwork for granting patent rights to inventors in Article One, section 8, clause 8.


A year after the constitution was ratified came America’s first Patent Act, on April 10, 1790.


On July 31, 1790, the First US Patent issued to Samuel Hopkins for an improvement "in the making Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process."


The Copyright Act of 1790 granted American authors the right to print, re-print, or publish their work for a period of 14 years and to renew for another fourteen.


Wheaten v. Peters: involved the official reporter of U.S. Supreme Court decisions republishing the previous reporter's work. The opinion by Justice McLean emphasized that patents and copyrights are exclusive works of limited duration.


The USPTO is created for the first time, then named the U.S. Patent Office.


In Folsom v. Marsh, the owner of a collection of George Washington’s letters sued Charles Upham for using letters in their entirety in a volume on Washington's life. The Supreme Court's definition of what constituted a “justifiable use of the original materials” formed the basis of the “fair use” doctrine.


Trademark legislation is passed based on commerce clause of the Constitution. Provision is made for the registration of trademarks to be used in commerce with foreign nations and with the Indian tribes. No provision is made for interstate commerce.


First international trademark agreement was reached at the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The countries involved in this convention agreed to provide the same protections regarding marks that they provide to their own nationals.


The Supreme Court concluded that photographs could be copyrighted. (Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53 (1884)). Pictured is the subject of the lawsuit, Oscar Wilde No. 18 by Napoleon Sarony (1882).


While the U.S. became a signatory in 1988, the Berne Convention provided for international recognition of copyright.


Coca-cola is trademarked.


In the same year that Quaker Oats became a trademark, the “road engine automobile” was patented.