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Edison in Detroit July 24, 2008

Posted by Brian Schar in General, Off topic, Patent prosecution.

I spent the last couple of weeks in the Detroit metro area visiting my in-laws, and we had a great time.  Contrary to popular belief, Detroit offers numerous recreational and cultural attractions.  One such attraction is Greenfield Village, which is an assemblage of old historic buildings from around the United States that have been disassembled and then rebuilt on the Greenfield Village site.  One set of buildings is Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park complex, including his laboratory and his office.  A sign at the corner of that complex reads:

I hope he wasn’t admitting that his inventions were the result of routine experimentation!  Post-KSR, this quote would be on a Power Point slide in 36 point text during trial.  Why, Edison had to work rather than wait for the proverbial flash of genius to strike!

Also interesting was Edison’s office, where he placed the desk of his draftsman Samuel Mott about 5 feet from his own.  (Mott’s desk is the one against the back wall.)


It’s unclear to me whether Samuel Mott was the person who wrote the patent applications or drew the drawings; it’s a distinction often lost on laypeople.  A bit of casual research on line indicates that Mott was the draftsperson.  Nevertheless, even in Edison’s day he appreciated the value of in-house patent professionals to the point where he had Mott sit adjacent to his desk.


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