Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Economist mentions George Selden in article on patent trolls

In "Why no one likes them," The Economist brings up George Selden:

Patent trolls are not new. In 1895 George Baldwin Selden (pictured), an American lawyer, was awarded a patent for an “improved road-engine”. The idea was not really his: he plaigiarised it from an exhibit at the 1872 Centennial Convention.

One notes that Selden did not file his application until 1879. [George Eastman was a witness on the patent.]
There was no "centennial" exhibition in 1872. Brayton exhibited his engine in Philadelphia in 1876.
Likely The Economist is not familiar with American centennials and dates thereof. That the
Selden patent disclosed only a Brayton engine was relevant in later patent litigation.

LBE covered the story in "Looking Backward" in Intellectual Property Today:

L. B. Ebert, Looking Backward, IPT, p. 20, June, 2001-->

Of Columbia Motor Car Co. v. C. A. Duerr, 184 F. 893 (CA 2 1911):

The logic of the Columbia opinion is not difficult to understand, even by the standards of 2001. The Selden patent disclosed a constant pressure engine, in which one had slow combustion without explosion. In contrast, Ford (and others) employed a constant volume engine, in which the piston moves by explosive action. n5 184 F. at 904. The engine of Selden required a constantly burning flame. 184 F. at 905. Of the doctrine of equivalents, the court seemed to cabin the scope because of the non-pioneering nature of the invention ("The patent as so construed necessarily permits only a very limited range of equivalent forms." 184 F. at 911; "In giving weight to dissimilarities -- in saying what are substantial and what relate merely to form -- we must consider the degree of invention shown in the patent . . . " 184 F. at 912.) One seems to have the rudiments of the Graver Tank tri-partite test: "[no equivalents] because the two engines do not perform the same functions in substantially the same way." 184 F. at 915.

The Second Circuit did NOT invalidate the Selden patent; it found that Ford did not infringe the patent.

See also Looking backward at licensing; deja vu all over again?

link to article in The Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21645604


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