The rise and fall of the first American patent thicket: The sewing machine war of the 1850s

The patent war of the 1850s may have been a long time ago, but it is still relevant. Adam Mossoff shows how the invention and incredible commercial success of the sewing machine is a powerful display of early American technological, commercial and legal ingenuity that heralds important empirical lessons for understanding and applying patent thievery theory today.

The Sewing Machine War demonstrated all these phenomena, including the effects of patent trolls, and proves that this is an age-old problem in patent law. The untangling of this patent thicket in the sewing machine combination of 1856, led to the first privately established patent pool. This also challenges the conventional wisdom that patent thickets are best resolved by public law rules limiting ownership of patents.

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