Did Edison steal inventions from Tesla?

Any claim that Tesla's ideas were stolen by anyone has to be backed up with real research including dates, patent publications and other publications. From what I have seen, most such claims are either dubious or straight out false. Tesla fanboys are very deficient in actual research.

Tesla made claims in later life about various people using his inventions. But an educated look at what was known in the 1880s and 1890s shows that some of what he claimed as his was well known in Europe. Europe was scientifically ahead of the USA until around 1920.

Anything that is published, apart from live patents, can be used by anybody. Such information is known in the intellectual property business as common general knowledge and it does not matter how few people see it, what language it is in or how old it is, as long as it has been published.

For example, the attempt to obtain a full patent in Australia on sail boards aka windsurfers in the 1970s was prevented by an article in a Perth newspaper from the early 1960s about two teenage boys who attached a small sail to a surfboard. The applicants had to be satisfied with a patent on the joint between the board and the mast.

Another thing is that any US patent is just so much paper in all other countries unless there is an identical patent in those countries. A person taking a US patent to Italy can copy the invention in Italy if there is no Italian patent on the invention and can tell offended US patentees to go bag their heads. The reverse is also true.

In addition, patents at present last 20 years if a yearly small fee is paid. If the fee is not paid, a patent office will usually give the patentee a three month extension on request but eventually will cancel the patent if no fee is paid. As soon as a patent expires for any reason, anyone may use it. In the past most patents lasted 15 to 17 years depending on the country and the term was raised to 20 years by international agreement in the early 1990s.

If Tesla worked for Edison, then any invention he came up while being paid by Edison legally belonged to Edison. This is clearly stated to scientists and engineers when they take paid employment in any organisation. You can bet that Edison enforced it.

My final point is this. Tesla had a great idea for electrical machinery powered by polyphase alternating current. After leaving Edison, he took the idea to George Westinghouse, but Tesla did not actually make it work.


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