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The bill proposed a board of patent commissioners to evaluate inventions for merit and originality.Additionally, it mandated a 14-year expiration date on patents and established patent filing procedures.
For the first time in history, patents constituted an inventor’s right, not a privilege bestowed from a monarch.
The 1790 act also launched an unprecedented examination system that introduced standards for patentable inventions. others than the Petitioners or those who derived their knowledge thereof from or under them.” In this way, Congress hoped to diminish the need for inventors to work secretly to protect their discoveries. By this point, a substantial backlog of patent applications had accumulated because the cabinet officials lacked time to devote to patent examination.
The law further specified that a patent could not be granted if the invention were “used by . Inventors also complained that the board’s decisions seemed arbitrary.
The final version of the bill vested the power to grant patents in a three-person commission composed of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney General.
On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the bill into law.