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Recognize the changing role of patents in July

When: July 31

What: When Samuel Hopkins stepped into the U.S. patent office in 1790, he ended up with the very first U.S. patent, numbered X000001, signed by George Washington. The patent has changed significantly since, but it remains a core part of American business. Recognize the shifting role of patents this July 31 on the anniversary of the first issued U.S. patent.

Background: This first patent by Hopkins was for a method to produce the fertilizers potash ash and pearlash. Patent law has gone through numerous transformations, including the recent Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which says that whoever files the invention first gets the patent. In the previous system, a person could file an invention only to have someone else claim they came up with the idea first.

Story Pitch: People who work directly in patents, as well as those who create and support new ideas, can all focus in on this day. Attorneys that offer patent services will want to consider how to help clients navigate the usual complexities of patent law, but also cutting edge issues such as patent warehouses and “trolls.” What methods does your firm use to keep clients informed, but not overwhelmed? Entrepreneurs and their inventors also have a great chance here to discuss the work they do to bring new ideas to the market, but also what they do differently. Tie your ventures and creations into the American tradition of invention, as well as rejuvenating the economy. Design schools, firms and individual designers can take this time to talk about the methodology and techniques they use to train future creators, as well as innovative design technology like 3D printing. Be sure to focus on any new endeavors to prepare designers for a frequently changing patent and design world.

Story Hook: Technologies like 3D printing and file sharing have caused, and continue to cause, a constellation of legal issues surrounding patents. How has tech like this shaped and challenged patent law? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • What are the methods and steps for gaining a patent?
  • How have U.S. patent law and its theory advanced?
  • Aside from issues of infringement, what other problems face the patent field?
  • Are there significant barriers to achieving a patent?

Tips: Patent attorneys and people who head up design firms would be ideal contacts to comment on the current state of the field.


American University Intellectual Property Brief

National Association of Patent Practitioners
(760) 814-9975

The Industrial Designers Society of America
(703) 707-6000

United States Patent and Trademark Office
(571) 272-1000

–Researched, compiled & written by Nicholas Testa
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