“Updated: Munck Wilson Secures 10 Millionth Patent in USPTO History”
A group of Dallas lawyers from Munck Wilson Mandala made patent history Tuesday by securing a laser detection technology patent for Raytheon. It was assigned Patent No. 10,000,000 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
…According to the USPTO’s website, there had been approximately 9,970 patents issued between 1790 and 1836, when a raging fire destroyed the building in which the agency had been storing nearly 10,000 patents issued to that point. Ironically, when the fire occurred, the Patent Office was in the process of constructing a new, more fireproof building, said Thompson & Knight attorney Justin Cohen, who has studied the history of 1800s patents.
Cohen said after the office burned, the Patent Office did its best to recreate records by obtaining copies from the original inventors, and 9,957 is the closest number it came back with. The Patent Office did not have a formal numbering system before the fire, so patents were identified by titles and dates.
Because the Patent Office re-started the patent count after the 1836 fire, there could not be two Patent No. 1’s or Patent No. 9,957’s in the system, Cohen said. To solve this issue, the Patent Office added an “x” to the titles of the patents issued between 1790 and the 1836 fire. The patents issued in that time period are known today as the “X-Patents.” Only 2,845 of the 9,957 missing patents were fully-restored.
Cohen said he learned about this history while interning earlier in his career at Michigan IP law firm Reising Ethington, which was established in 1865. Cohen was asked to look into early 1800s patents that the firm founders had been involved in.
“It’s really interesting history,” Cohen said. “Issuing Patent No. 10 million is a huge milestone. It’s incredible and it’s fascinating. The other part of our history of what is the technical 10 millionth patent leads to this interesting history of the origination of the USPTO and the 1836 fire.”