History of IP at WCL

Our Founding: 1910-14

The Washington College of Law has one of the longest-standing programs in intellectual property law in the United States.

The program began in 1910 with the appointment of William L. Symons, LL.M., MPL, as a Special Lecturer on Patents and Trade Marks. Professor Symons was at the time an Examiner at the United States Patent Office. Symons would become an author of several books on trademark, copyright and design patents including Copyright of Prints and Labels (1911), Suggestions to Foreign Applicants for Registration of Trade Marks in the United States Patent Office (1911), and The Law of Patents for Designs (1914).

In 1911, the Washington College of Law faculty approved the addition of certificate courses in Patent Law and Trade Mark law. The Patent Law course was delivered by Hon. Cornelius C. Billings, LL.B., U.S.N.A. 1886, who was then the “First Assistant Commissioner of Patents.” The announcement of the course indicates that it was a 30-week course with classes taught twice a week in the evenings for students seeking to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

Professor William L. Symons delivered the course in “Trade Marks,” which also was tailored to students seeking to practice before the US PTO. The announcement of course indicates that it covered copyright registration of prints and labels as well as design patents. 

Professors Symons and Billings were promoted to the full Faculty in 1913-14, joining 13 other full faculty members. The promotion accompanied the expansion of their courses from a certificate offering to a part of the required course for the Master in Law degree.

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