January 9, 1911
Selden patent thrown out
In 1895, George Selden was awarded the first American patent for an internal-combustion automobile, although Selden hadn’t yet produced a working model. Other inventors, such as Ransom Olds and the Duryea brothers, were already driving their home-built automobiles through the streets. Beginning in 1903, however, the Selden patent began to make itself felt. The Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (A.L.A.M.) was organized to gather royalties on the Selden patent from all auto makers. Soon, every major automobile manufacturer was paying royalties to the A.L.A.M. and George Selden–except for one major standout, a young inventor named Henry Ford. Ford refused to pay royalties. The A.L.A.M launched a series of lawsuits against Ford. On this day in 1911, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Ford Motor Company was not infringing on the Selden patent. It was the beginning of the end for the A.L.A.M. and Selden’s royalties.