Evolution of the U.S. Patent System

Starting as a collection of colony-specific patent councils, the patent system in the United States has evolved dramatically from its origins as a model of the 1624 English Statute of Monopolies and the Letters Patents system characteristic of 17th century England.

The U.S. Patent Act of 1790 was the first federal patent statute of the United States. This act vested the power to grant patents to the “Patent Board”; which consisted of the Secretary of State (who, at the time, was Thomas Jefferson); the Secretary of War (Henry Knox); and the Attorney