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The Source: Who Invented The Telephone? Lawyers.


Forget what you know about who invented the telephone. It is far more nuanced than Alexander Graham Bell calling for Dr. Watson. What got Bell into the history books was as much about his intellect as his and his lawyers driving out competitors through an unprecedented crusade using the U.S. patent sytsem.

The battles are detailed in the book Invented by Law: Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent that Changed America.

Bigger than the battle for Facebook or the billion dollar skirmish between Apple and Samsung over touchscreens, the Bell battle was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court and its effects reverberated through the centuries as the American Bell Telephone Company, a monopoly of incredible strength.

The book examines the patent system and sheds new light on the history, while resonating with the calls of reform we here today regarding patent law.


  • Christopher Beauchamp, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive