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The first US patent August 12, 2009

Posted by Brian Schar in General.


Hopkins plaque

I always seem to encounter some bit of patent history completely by accident when on vacation.  In the course of taking a walk through the historic Old City area of Philadelphia, I found this historical marker through blind luck.  It stands outside the historical location of the home of Samuel Hopkins, the inventor awarded the first U.S. patent.  This patent for producing potash is now designated X000001, the X-series patents being those reconstructed from other records after the 1836 PTO fire wiped out the records there.  It’s a miracle of compact drafting by modern standards; had it been filed today, there would surely have been both a written description and an enablement rejection under 112.  Sadly, Hopkins appears to have suffered the same fate as most small inventors today when attempting to license and commercialize his invention. 

I wonder what I’ll happen upon next time I go on vacation.

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