Design patents and utility patents have co-existed in harmony — each staying in its own lane, covering its own subject matter — for over 180 years. The U.S. Patent Act was enacted in 1790, and the first U.S. utility patent was issued on July 31, 1790. The utility patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins for a process for making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer. It was signed by President George Washington.

Fifty-two years later — in 1842 — Congress passed a statute providing for the grant of patents covering new and original designs. The first U.S. design patent was issued later that year on Nov. 9, 1842. The design patent was issued to George Bruce for a new font.

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