Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 2

By Frank Lewis Dyer; Thomas Commerford Martin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
THE BLACK FLAG

THROUGHOUT the forty - odd years of his creative life, Edison has realized by costly experience the truth of the cynical proverb that "A patent is merely a title to a lawsuit." It is not intended, however, by this statement to lead to any inference on the part of the reader that he stands peculiarly alone in any such experience, for it has been and still is the common lot of every successful inventor, sooner or later.

To attribute dishonesty or cupidity as the root of the defence in all patent litigation would be aiming very wide of the mark, for in no class of suits that come before the courts are there any that present a greater variety of complex, finely shaded questions, or that require more delicacy of interpretation, than those that involve the construction of patents, particularly those relating to electrical devices. Indeed, a careful study of legal procedure of this character could not be carried far without discovery of the fact that in numerous instances the differences of opinion between litigants were marked by the utmost bona fides.

On the other hand, such study would reveal many cases of undoubted fraudulent intent, as well as many

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