Unfair patents and the sewing machine war

The Sewing Machine War was the first instance of what is today called a patent thicket. The disputes prevented Singer from selling his invention, and tensions ran high in and out of court: When Howe personally called on Singer, Singer threatened to throw him down a flight of stairs.

But there’s a happy ending to the story, as your machine-stitched clothes evince. The Sewing Machine War ended with a just and lasting peace in 1856, when Orlando B Potter–a lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs — suggested a solution that Mossoff calls groundbreaking but also breathtakingly simple: The patent-holders would combine their patents in a patent pool and share the profits from selling the machines. The patent pool participants lived happily and wealthily ever after — or at least until 1877, when the last patent expired — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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