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Telephone Cases


TELEPHONE CASES. Alexander Graham Bell's 1876 patent on the telephone had barely been filed before a legion of other inventors surfaced to claim rights to the invention. The Western Union Telegraph Company purchased the rights to Amos E. Dolbear's and Thomas A. Edison's telephone inventions and began manufacturing and installing telephones. The Bell Telephone Company brought suit and prevailed in court in 1879. Over the next two decades, the holders of the Bell patent battled more than six hundred lawsuits. Daniel Drawbaugh, an obscure Pennsylvania mechanic who claimed to have had a workable instrument as early as 1866, came nearest to defeating them, losing his Supreme Court appeal in 1887 by a vote of only four to three. The government sought from 1887 to 1897 to annul the patent, but failed.


Harlow, Alvin F. Old Wires and New Waves: The History of the Telegraph, Telephone, and Wireless. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1936.

Alvin F.Harlow/a. r.

See alsoAT&T ; Industrial Research ; Patents and U.S. Patent Office ; Telecommunications .

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