Ford’s Fight Against Patent Trolls

Ford’s Fight Against Patent Trolls

Unless you’re completely stupid, you
probably know what a car is.
It’s that large metal thing on wheels that distracts you while you’re trying to use your phone
But cars as we know them today might have
been massively different if it wasn’t for one,
Henry Ford and his burning hatred for con men
The con men in question were from a group
known as A.L.A.M.
This group was infamous for essentially being the bullies of car manufacturing
Before we go into what made these men such prolific bullies,
we need to go some years back to when this whole mess began.
On July 30th, 1863, Henry Ford is born
uhm… hmm… actually this is a bit too far back.
Let’s jump forward to 1876 where we find
Karl Benz and Nikolaus Otto inventing the
four-cycle internal combustion engine.
In 1889, Gottlieb Daimler invents the world’s
first four wheeled automobile.
This is important, because it proves that
the automobile is being invented and improved
all across the globe.
And this gives one patent attorney, a very sly idea.
Enter George Selden of Rochester, New York. It’s the late 1870’s, and he’s working
on his own internal combustion engine. However, he’s not very good at it and decides to
halfheartedly design a full automobile instead.
The design itself is very broad, unspecific,
and contributes nothing new to the automotive industry.
On top of that, nobody in America is ready
to make and sell a full car yet,
so his patent is simultaneously ahead of it’s time, and
completely outdated.
But Selden, being the savvy patent attorney
he is, already has a plan for that.
He knows that his patent is valid for 17
years, but he can delay the start of his patent
by making amendments every two years. So he
does just that, sometimes making amendments
as small as changing one or two words.
16 years later in 1895, he is no longer
allowed to make amendments, but that’s fine
for him, because the car community is really starting to gain speed.
Just seven months later, Henry Ford finishes
his first functional automobile, the Quadricycle.
This is the beginning of a very lucrative
career for Ford, but not everyone thinks that.
Ford spends the next 7 years gathering investors
to build a company, but they eventually kick
him out because he spends more time improving
cars instead of actually making them.
But while Ford is busy failing and starting
new companies,
there’s another failing company that is starting quite the scheme
In 1899, the Electric Vehicle Company is
falling on hard times as electric vehicles
are very hard to make.
It’s during this trying time that one of the managers happens to come across
the Selden patent, and gets an idea.
The E.V.C notices that the patent uses a
gas engine, which means they can use this
patent to claim royalties on all gas cars
that are being manufactured inside the US.
So they make a deal with Selden, while patting
themselves on the back for their capacity
to plan cunning plans.
The E.V.C starts sending out notices of patent
infringement, which asks for the manufacturers
to pay them royalties. Not surprisingly, no
one does.
So the E.V.C begins to sue, but the car manufacturers
aren’t going down without an expensive fight.
It’s about this time that the car manufacturers
get their own cunning plan.
They decide to team up with the E.V.C and use their patent to make everyone a lot of money.
They come up with these 3 stipulations, which the E.V.C
happily agrees to, and so, the A.L.A.M is born.
In 1903 our friend Ford is starting
his new business, the Ford Motor Company.
He attempts to get licensed under A.L.A.M,
but is promptly rejected because of his earlier failed attempts at motor companies.
However, Ford is not known to be a quitter,
and isn’t about to give up his dream because
of some pencil-pushing-patent-pansies.
So Ford continues making cars in his new company and in 1908, he debuts the now famous Model-T
Just a year after his success, Ford finds
himself in court with A.L.A.M for supposed patent
infringement and refusing to pay royalties
The Judge mulls over the patent all summer,
but was not especially well versed in car manufacturing,
and so he judges in favor of A.L.A.M.
It seems all is lost. Car manufacturers
who had been holding out finally begin paying
royalties to A.L.A.M. But as we’ve learned, Ford doesn’t
like quitting and files for an appeal
It’s worth noting that Ford is filthy
stinking rich at this point,
and could easily pay the royalties that are required of him.
But Ford is a man of principle, and is now principally concerned with destroying A.L.A.M.
Almost two years after the first trial,
a federal appeals court of 3 judges finally makes their decision.
And so, the Selden patent fades back into
obscurity, A.L.A.M dissolves,
and Ford and everyone else continue to make cars royalty free.
Within the decade, Ford’s cars will account for half the cars on American roads.
The moral of the story is that if you really
want to achieve your dreams, you can never give up.
Unless your dreams are to swindle
people, in which case, you should give up immediately.

9 Replies to “Ford’s Fight Against Patent Trolls”

  1. That was very entertaining. I like the feel of this video. From the aesthetic visuals, to the music choice, I just love it overall! I can't explain it, but I'm somewhat reminded of Napoleon Dynamite. Anyway, hope to see more from you guys.

  2. found you on reddit! had to show my support here as well 😀
    also an about thomas edison and his stealing of other people's inventions

  3. I discovered you in the comment section of Gus Johnson's newest sketch. I want your channel to get big enough so you guys can collab. You gained a new subscriber!

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