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The Patent Series consists of (1) Caveat Files; and (2) Patent Application Files.
The Caveat Files (preliminary patent applications) cover the period 1887-1896. Included are draft caveats in Edison's hand and typed copies retained by Richard N. Dyer, Edison's patent attorney. The documents relate to a variety of subjects, including the phonograph, motion pictures, ore milling, and fluorescent lamps. The individual caveats frequently deal with several different technologies, and many of the files contain a letter from the Commissioner of Patents noting that the caveat "must be limited to a single invention."
The Patent Application Files consist of formal applications, along with correspondence between Edison's attorneys and the U.S. Patent office. Many of the applications pertain to improvements in Edison's phonograph. There is also material relating to electric lighting and power, ore milling, motion pictures, and various other technologies. A related 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, only the files relating to Edison's abandoned or forfeited applications are included in their entirety in this edition. Drafts in Edison's hand for both successful and rejected applications have also been selected.
Much of the material in the Caveat Files and the Patent Application Files is closely related to the notes and drawings in the Notebook Series.
The archives of the Edison National Historical Park also holds numerous case files relating to Edison's foreign patent applications. In addition, there are patents by other inventors; many of these patents were subsequently assigned to Edison's companies. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.