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Patents, Patriotism, and "Skilled in the Art" USA v. The Chemical Foundation, Inc., 1923-1926

Kathryn Steen
Isis
Vol. 92, No. 1 (Mar., 2001), pp. 91-122
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/237328
Page Count: 32
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Patents, Patriotism, and "Skilled in the Art" USA v. The Chemical Foundation, Inc., 1923-1926
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Abstract

Prior to World War I, German firms dominated the production of synthetic organic chemicals such as dyes and related pharmaceuticals. When the war halted the supply of German chemicals to the United States, key American policymakers, manufacturers, and chemists sought to build a domestic industry. One policy, born of wartime anti-German fervor, was the confiscation of German chemical patents by the Office of Alien Property, an executive agency. In 1919 A. Mitchell Palmer and Francis P. Garvan, the two Alien Property Custodians under President Wilson, orchestrated the organization of the Chemical Foundation, Inc., to purchase and manage the former German patents for the benefit of the American chemical industry. By the early 1920s, however, criticism of Palmer and Garvan's actions led to a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the Chemical Foundation. In the course of the trial, the litigants explored, among other things, the role of patents in the development of industry.

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