Frederick Innes Allen


Born at Auburn, New York, January 19, 1859, Frederick Innes Allen came from a prominent family of that city. Graduating from Yale in 1879, he received a class prize in mineralogy. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1882, beginning the practice of law in Auburn, where he remained until appointed Commissioner of Patents by President McKinley in 1901.

While Commissioner he lectured on patent law at Georgetown University.

In his official capacity as Commissioner he represented the United States at the Congress of the International Association for the Protection of Industrial Property at Berlin, and later at Berne. He inspected the German Patent Office and was much impressed by the great expenditures of money in that country to foster a system originating in the United States, whereas at home it was only with the greatest amount of pleading that the funds of the inventors themselves were allowed to be used in keeping alive the mother system.

It appears that the happy state of having sufficient personnel to keep the work up to date, experienced by his predecessor, was short lived. While the number of employees was thus increased 8.8%, the increase in business was 23%, this condition again seriously threatening the ability of the Office to function effectively. Commissioner Allen, endeavoring to keep the work as near current as possible, continued the practice of Commissioner Duell of holding divisions which were far behind in their work for an hour overtime every day. Many of the examiners also sacrificed much of their leave, and were placed in an embarrassing position generally.

Many minor changes, by way of administrative reorganizations, were effected in the Office during his Commissionership.

After retiring from office on June 1, 1907, Mr. Allen resumed the practice of patent law in New York City which he continued until several years ago when an operation for cataract necessitated his retirement from patent work. Mr. Allen has always been interested in chemistry and mineralogy, and has a laboratory in his home in which he does active work in both fields. He has been president of the Mineralogical Club of New York.

[Mr. Allen died in New York City on May 17, 1938.]


*Republished with permission of the Patent and Trademark Office Society from the article Biographical Sketches of the Commissioners of Patents, 18 J.P.O.S. 145 (1936).  The United States Patent and Trademark Office is grateful for the Society’s assistance.