The Emergence of the Professional Patent Practitioner
Abstract

Abstract:

From the early republic to the present, the social networks created by successful American inventors to support their technologies have included individuals who have helped inventors mobilize the legal system. The role of the patent practitioner in this joint history of law and technology has remained largely hidden behind the myth of the lone inventor and the drama of courtroom patent battles. This paper traces patent solicitation as a profession from the beginning of the modern patent examination system in 1836 through a mid-twentieth-century Supreme Court battle over the requisite expertise for what had become an indispensable aspect of invention. Shaped by the changing patent law and patent office practices, the history of this profession also reveals the linked history of lawyers and engineers, as both groups sought to lay claim to this new occupation, and the process by which this occupation, like patents themselves, became a legal-technical hybrid.