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These files consist of formal patent applications, along with correspondence between Edison's attorneys and the U.S. Patent Office. Some of the folders also contain notes and drawings by Edison; draft specifications in Edison's hand and other specifications with Edison notations; memoranda from Edison to his patent attorneys; and related correspondence authored by or sent to Edison, his associates, and his companies. Included are applications pertaining to phonographs and phonograph records, motion pictures, storage batteries, ore milling, cement, and concrete buildings. There are also a few applications relating to electric lighting, telephones, telegraphs, and other subjects such as "flying machines."
Another set of application files for Edison's U.S. patents can be found in the National Archives (Record Group 241, Records of the Patent Office). The National Archives set is nearly complete and available on microfilm. For that reason, the formal specifications and the correspondence between Edison's attorneys and the Patent Office have not been selected in the case files for the successful applications in the Edison National Historical Park's collection. The selected material from these files consists primarily of notes, drawings, and draft specifications by Edison, along with occasional correspondence to or from Edison, his associates, and his companies. The case files for Edison's abandoned or forfeited applications have been selected in their entirety except for duplicates, printed patents by Edison and other inventors, and other printed material. In addition, two applications by Edison's son, William Leslie Edison, have been selected.
The files are arranged in chronological order according to execution datethe date on which the formal application was signed and witnessed. On the list that follows, each selected application file is noted with its execution date; folio number; patent number (for issued patents) or serial number (for abandoned applications); and case file title. In a few cases where the execution date could not be determined, the application date, if known, or other conjectured date is supplied in brackets. Case files consisting entirely of unselected material do not appear on the list.
Folio Numbers. These numbers were assigned by patent attorneys Richard N. Dyer and Frank L. Dyer and by the various Dyer partnerships to applications filed on behalf of Edison and other clients. Folio numbers generally appear on the upper left corner of the application covers. They can also be found on other patent-related documents such as Patent Application Book, PN-09-01-21. There are two series of folio numbers: one beginning in the 1880s and continuing through 1901; the other beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing into the 1930s.
Edison Case Numbers. These numbers, which are often preceded by the letter "E," were also assigned by Edison's patent attorneys, beginning in the late 1870s. Unlike the folio numbers, the case numbers were used exclusively for Edison's applications. Case numbers generally appear on the application covers and can also be found on other patent-related documents such as the patent application casebooks published in Thomas A. Edison Papers, Part II (1879-1886). The case number system was discontinued in 1905.
Serial Numbers. These numbers were assigned by the U.S. Patent Office to applications filed by Edison and other inventors. A new sequence of numbers was used for each year. Serial numbers generally appear on the upper right corner of the application covers and on the correspondence between Edison's attorneys and the Patent Office. They can also be found on other patent-related documents such as Patent Application Book, PN-09-01-21
Patent Numbers. These numbers were assigned by the U.S. Patent Office to successful applications by Edison and other inventors at the time the patent was formally issued.