“How Singer Won the Sewing Machine War”

The “Sewing Machine War” originated from legal combats amid one of the first “patent thickets,” while a pioneering 1856 patent pool ended it. “As licensing fees dropped from $25 per machine (almost half the total price) to $5 about a decade after the pool went into effect; dozens of new manufacturers entered the industry.” [Smithsonian, earlier; related discussion, Adam Mossoff, 2009; Robert Merges, 2015]

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  • The Smithsonian article mentioned that a Singer skyscraper was for some years prominent as an NYC landmark, and that Singer was one of the first modern international firms.
    During the Soviet era, a prominent building on Nevski Prospekt in Peterburg/Leningrad was topped by a statue of Atlas carrying the World. It housed the principal bookstore. Before the Revolution, however, it would have been known to young Alisa Rozenbaum as the Singer building, topped by a statue of capitalism and technology triumphant. Was it just coincidence that Atlas would later figure in the title of her best-known book?