Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The constitutional provision governing patents gives Congress the power to promote the progress of useful arts "by securing for limited Times to... Inventors the exclusive Right to their... Discoveries. "'Because an "exclusive right" suggests an exclusive grant, the Patent Office interference proceeding has been created for the purpose of determining administratively the question of priority of rights between two or more parties claiming substantially the same invention. This article attempts to state in terms of an informal axiomatic system the rules of law for determining priority of invention, and then examine that system to explore its possible paradoxes Finally, an amendment is proposed to eliminate a serious paradox in the present statute, which permits the occurrence of a circularity of priorities in which a may be prior to b, b prior to c, and c prior to a.