Selden Patent

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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 .