A patent model is a miniature prototype of the actual product, and its submission was required for nearly a century after enactment of the first patent act in 1790. In the language of the patent office: “The model, not more than 12 inches square, should be neatly made, the name of the inventor should be printed or engraved up, or affixed to it, in a durable manner.”
As the Industrial Revolution waned and the patent office ran out of room to store the ever increasing number of models, the requirement was retracted in 1880. These relics of the past have long since been scattered to the winds, with many finding their way into shelves of today’s patent attorneys-paper weights and office decorations. A few have been preserved, some at the patent office, a few in the Smithsonian, and others in patent model museums. Today, it is impossible to submit a model.
Although today’s patent office does not have room to store models, they could still be submitted in electronic form. For example, a video clip of the working model could be electronically submitted or posted on an internal patent office web site.