Skip to main content

Selden Patent


SELDEN PATENT, the first and most bitterly contested of all the automobile patents. The original application for a patent on a vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine was filed in 1879 by George B. Selden of Rochester, New York, and issued in 1895. Rights to the patent shifted from the Pope Manufacturing Company to the Electric Vehicle Company, which in 1900 vigorously enforced its patent rights by filing suit against the Winton Motor Carriage Company. The case was abandoned when Winton and nine other companies formed the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers and agreed to pay royalties.

Henry Ford refused to participate in the agreement, and in 1903 an infringement suit was filed against him. After eight years of litigation, Ford finally prevailed. The court of appeals, overturning a lower court judgment, ruled that although the Seldon patent was valid for two-cycle motors as per the design specifications of the original patent, it was not being infringed by Ford, whose vehicles used four-cycle engines.


Doolittle, James Rood. The Romance of the Automobile Industry. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

Richard W.Tupper/a. r.

See alsoAutomobile ; Automobile Industry ; Ford Motor Company ; Patents and U.S. Patent Office .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Selden Patent." Dictionary of American History. . 22 Feb. 2018 <>.

"Selden Patent." Dictionary of American History. . (February 22, 2018).

"Selden Patent." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.