Exhibit Theme

Promoting Progress

Next Image Next Image Previous Image Previous Image
HR 41, A Bill to Promote the...
Image Caption

HR 41, A Bill to Promote the Progress of the Useful Arts (the Patent Act), March 10, 1790

Congress passed the first patent act in 1790 to encourage innovation and industrial progress. It empowered the attorney general and secretaries of war and state to grant patents of up to 14 years for inventions that were “. . . sufficiently useful and important.” The patent holder had exclusive rights to the invention or discovery during that period.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration