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Patent laws.

Clause 8, section 8, article 3 of the national Constitution gives to Congress power to “promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing, for a limited time, to authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The first law framed under this provision was approved April 10, 1790, and secured to authors and inventors the exclusive rights in the use of their productions for fourteen years. It remained in force three years, when it was repealed. Only three patents were granted the first year , thirty-three the second, and eleven the third. A new law was passed in 1793. It was amended from time to time, and remained in force until 1836, when all existing patent laws were repealed, and a new one was approved. During the ten years from 1790 to 1800 the number of patents granted was 276. The matter of infringement of patents was first brought under the equity jurisdiction of the United States courts in 1819, and in 1832 provision was made by Congress for the re-issue of patents under certain conditions. Prior to the new law of 1836, only 10,020 patents had been issued. From 1837 to 1890, the number of patents issued was 475,785. In 1861 the time for which patents were issued was extended to seventeen years. In 1870 the Patent Office was made a branch of the State Department; it afterwards became a bureau of the Interior Department. During the fiscal year 1899-1900 there were 45,270 applications for patents, re-issues, etc.

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