Today I am going to share a story of a woman who fought her patent rights till the end. Her name is Margaret Eloise Knight; (Born February 14, 1838 – died on October 12, 1914) was an American inventor. There are numerous other stories of inventors who had their inventions stolen by opportunistic abusers of the patent system, but Margaret Knight (1838-1914) is one inventor who fought back and won. Knight’s formal education ended when she was 12 years old and she went to work in a textile mill. That’s also when she developed her first invention. After witnesses an accident in a mill, Knight developed a device that would stop the motion of a particular machine if something got caught in it. Her invention made its way into other factories, but at the time neither Knight nor her family members were familiar with the patent process, so she didn’t get to own her idea.
However, Knight would have a formative experience with patent law years later. She was working in a paper bag factory when she figured out a more efficient way of folding and gluing paper bags — one very similar to the same process today. So she invented the machine that could execute her more efficient process. Before she had an opportunity to patent it, however, a man named Charles Annan inspected her machine and filed a patent on it. When Knight learned Annan had a patent on file, she took him to court.
Annan argued that a woman wasn’t capable of inventing such a device, but Knight had, well, actual proof. She had detailed notes that she kept on the machine, and the court awarded her the patent. Knight would go on to develop a number of other inventions, mostly making other improvements in industrial processes.