A Patent History of Filmmaking

Vol. 6 No. 5


Gene Quinn is a U.S. patent attorney and the founder of IPWatchdog.com. He is a principal lecturer in the PLI patent bar review course and is also with the firm of Zies, Widerman & Malek, where his practice is primarily devoted to software and electronic devices.

The history of film is a long one that, by some accounts, extends as far back as the early 1700s to the discovery by German physicist Johann Heinrich Schulze that silver salts react to light exposure by becoming darker in color.1 By the late 1800s, celluloid film had appeared, and the ability to record motion pictures through a camera had become a reality. In 1889, George Eastman perfected the first commercial transparent roll film, one year after beginning to use the name “Kodak” to market his cameras.2 Eastman’s flexible film advancement made it possible for Thomas Edison to develop his motion picture camera in 1891. Edison called his first generation picture camera a “Kinetoscope,” after the Greek words kineto, which means “movement,” and scopos, which means “to watch.”3 Edison filed a patent application on the Kinetoscope on August 24, 1891, and the patent ultimately issued on August 31, 1897.4

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