Curtis and Curtis on Patents

9 thoughts on “Curtis and Curtis on Patents

  1. 4

    Justice Curtis was also Watertown Strong. There’s a nice and tasteful memorial to him in Watertown Square that I pass by on a regular basis. (Sorry, but couldn’t find a better quality or color picture of it.)

    link to

  2. 3

    >>resigned in the aftermath.

    So he was held in contempt for this dissent and resigned as result?

    1. 3.1

      Rather, he was so disgusted by the Court in the wake of Dred Scott that he resigned.

  3. 2

    The flip side of Justice Curtiss (the Court’s only patent lawyer) dissenting in Dred Scott, is that the author of the Dred Scott opinion—Chief Justice Taney—also authored the Court’s opinion in O’Reilly v. Morse, which is one of the (very) few instances in which the Court took on a question of patent law and got it right. Naturally, Justice Curtiss joined the Court’s opinion in that case.

      1. 2.1.2

        Well, that’s what comes of going to Wikipedia instead of the opinion itself. Thanks for catching that. I feel properly silly now.


          Numerous aspects of that Wikipedia page are really crying out for improvement. In particular with respect to the Curtis recusal aspect, it contains a lot of seemingly extraneous detail about other counsel for Morse and O’Reilly, but doesn’t say a word about Curtis’ involvement, let alone that it ended up causing him to recuse.

          Relatedly it’s also interesting that the underlying reason for recusal is explicitly stated in the opinion.

  4. 1

    Many thanks for bringing to attention this interesting and worthy individual. I was aware, of course, of George Ticknor Curtis whose textbook on patent law contains advice of enduring importance and documents the state of development of patent law in the 1840’s and onwards. I was not aware of his brother Benjamin whose distinguished legal career is worth reviewing, not least his defense of Andrew Johnson. And an excellent portrait if I may say so.

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