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Alien Patents Found at SIBL!


They weren't found in Area 51; or Area 57 or Hangar 18 or anywhere close to Roswell for that matter. For those of you who want to believe — I'm sorry, you'll have to wait a bit longer. The bibliographic record for this find shows the US Alien Property Custodian as author, and these patents, or patent applications in the cases ascertained so far, are documents from the Second World War.

Will man travel in space?, Digital ID 407623, New York Public LibraryIn a previous post, I mentioned the recent presentation to SIBL staff by Neil Massong and Daphne Joseph from the US Patent and Trademark Office Patent and Trademark Resource Center. That presentation concerned patents and applications (as well as copyrights) confiscated by the US government during World War II and made available to US industries. Many of these publications, particularly applications, were sent to depository libraries (which included NYPL) during the war. The USPTO reps indicated that they were interested in tracking down more of those items to fill in gaps to the USPTO's collection. The possibility that we had some of these, and weren't really aware of it, so sparked the imagination of our head of collections, John Balow, that he hunted for them in our catalog and located them for us.

Space ship landing on the moon., Digital ID 1651602, New York Public LibraryWe will be examining these items, and may find some not available elsewhere. This could prove a trove of historically interesting "prior art" documents otherwise forgotten by all but a few. We'll consult with our friends at PTRC and the USPTO, as well as one of the leading experts on these documents, Michael White of Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, about the best way to move forward. And we'll plan to share what we find with you.

For more about the Alien Property Custodian and these patents and applications, you may want to read Michael White's articles:

 march and two step / by Raymond Taylor ; arranged by E. T. Paull., Digital ID G00C101_001, New York Public Library

  • White, M. (2001). "Patents for Victory! Disseminating Enemy Technical Information During World War II", Science & Technology Libraries, 22 (1/2), 5-22.
  • White, M. (2007). "US alien property custodian patent documents: A legacy prior art collection from world war II – part 1. history." World Patent Information, 29(4), 339-345. doi:10.1016/j.wpi.2007.05.003
  • White, M. (2008). "US alien property custodian patent documents: A legacy prior art collection from world war II – part 2. statistics." World Patent Information, 30(1), 34-42. doi:10.1016/j.wpi.2007.05.002

For those interested in seeing one of these applications, below is a copy of Serial Number 268421, published May 11, 1943. To the right is a an earlier patent (1931) issued to the same inventor for a similar invention. Click on the images to see the full documents.


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