Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Montage of images and link description. The Wizard of Photography Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Further Reading

Grant Romer, on:
the English patent system

Grant Romer Q: Let's talk about England, because he does create a machine that's going to coat dry plates. He immediately went to England to patent this machine before he patented here in this country. What was the significance of that trip to England?

Of course, England at the end of the 19th century was the empire in the world. And not only did it span the world (the sun never set on the English empire), but there was a highly elaborate system of industrialization that they had spread also throughout the world. The industrial revolution spreads from England. And they had an elaborate system of protecting the rights to certain intellectual concepts of invention. Therefore any patent that you had in mind in the world, you would go and patent it in England first, because they would protect it internationally; that nationally you might be able to get a good patent in the United States, but international patent law was really centered in Great Britain. So not only did they have the entire network economically to contact the world, but they had that system to protect the legal rights. So that is indeed why he went, just like the Wright brothers didn't sell their invention first to the United States. It was sold in Europe first. I think the United States was the third or fourth nation to buy the rights to the airplane. So that in the 19th century, it was no question, the end of the 19th century. If you wanted to do international business, you did it out of England.

next | back to Interview Transcripts | next

Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference

The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline | Gallery | People & Events | Teacher's Guide
The American Experience | Kids | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe

©  New content 1999-2000 PBS Online / WGBH

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: