By: Shontavia Johnson, Drake University

PatentedAmerica has long been the land of innovation. More than 13,000 years ago, the Clovis people created what many call the “first American invention” – a stone tool used primarily to hunt large game. This spirit of American creativity has persisted through the millennia, through the first American patent granted in 1641 and on to today.

One group of prolific innovators, however, has been largely ignored by history: black inventors born or forced into American slavery. Though U.S. patent law was created with color-blind language to foster innovation, the patent system consistently excluded these inventors from recognition.

As a law professor and a licensed patent attorney, I understand both the importance of protecting inventions and the negative impact of being unable to use the law to do so. But despite patents being largely out of reach to them throughout early U.S. history, both slaves and free African-Americans did invent and innovate.

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Glasgow_blog_imageThe ECS Conference on Electrochemical Energy Conversion & Storage with SOFC-XIV in Glasgow is right around the corner. With Scotland on our minds, we thought it’d be fitting to look at some of the greatest Scottish scientists, inventors, and engineers. In spite of being a relatively small country, Scotland has produced a group of prolific and esteemed scientists. Take a look at our list and join us in Glasgow, July 26-31.

John Logie Baird (1888-1946)
Engineer, Inventor
Baird was one of the inventors of the mechanical television and was the first person to publicly demonstrate the color television system.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
Engineer, Scientist
One of Scotland’s most eminent scientists, Bell is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. Bell established the Volta Laboratory and Bureau in the late 19th century, which would eventually become known as Bell Labs. (Check out our podcast on Bell Labs!)

Joseph Black (1728-1799)
Chemist, Physician
Black is best known for his discoveries of latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. Chemistry buildings at both the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow are named after him.

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