The USPTO is moving to an all-digital archive, and they're tossing old patents as they digitize them, creating a bonanza for dumpster divers.
A few random swoops into the bins produce aged prints of patent documents dated from the 1880's and 90's, with spidery intricate sketches of inventions.
Four of the reproductions have the name T. A. Edison at the top of the page. That's Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the light bulb and the holder of more than 1,000 United States patents. One of the sketches retrieved from the dust bin of bureaucracy is of Mr. Edison's "dynamo electric machine or motor," patented March 15, 1892.
This is not Mr. Rabin's first dive into the trash bins. He was there a few days ago with a friend. "We started taking out ones that just appeared to be old, that just seemed to be interesting, that was something you just can't see going into the trash," said Mr. Rabin, the president of a patent research firm.
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