The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a "privileges" office which issued patents until about 1897, and then it had two patent offices, one in Austria and one in Hungary. There might have been one in Bosnia-Herzegovina after 1878, when it joined the Empire.
Many modern nations hold territory and-or are composed entirely of territory which which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The attached map, while putting emphasis on the Kingdom of Hungary, along with territory to Hungary's southwest, also indicates the per se Austrian sovereignty over lands north of that greater Hungary. It may or may not be that various smaller kingdoms did some storing of patents, with or without the establishments of offices dedicated to the purpose.
For our purposes, it is important to see the two major "halves" of the Empire. Each had its own patent office, publishing in its own language, and each of the two was highly international in terms of patents filed also abroad, with references made to and from those filed in Austria and those filed in Hungary. Neither of the two key Austro-Hungarian component nations seems to have played a preponderant role in the cosmopolitanism of the other, in terms of patents and innovation. Smaller kingdoms within this empire retained varying degrees of national identity, though seemingly not patent offices of their own, on the one hand, and Hungary itself seems to have included slightly more territory than it does today. We have garnered a fair bulk of patents in which the inventor is thought to have Romanian(RO) nationality, for instance. "AH" as such may serve some purpose. Very precise locations have helped us with corporate and individual inventor connections and establishments of identity across an inter-linguistic range of sources both analogue and digital.
This empire, as such, was not very old, at all, Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, and perhaps its constituent nations lagged somewhat behind nations further west in terms of industrialization and administrative formalization. For more on the general context see Austria-Hungary on English Wikipedia. All indications, including the size of the Kingdom of Hungary as it was then constituted, and the name of the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself, suggest that these two royal-imperial-national entities led the other constituent nations in Europe as it was evolving at the time. A third element within the empire, the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, was "an autonomous region under the Hungarian crown". We may only tentatively presume that the most directly relevant patent office was that of Hungary. Croatia comes up in our data on occasion. There are cases in which an inventor location is situated in present day Croatia, though it was situated within the Kingdom of Hungary during the period on which we are focused. We do have a few cases in which an inventor's nationality is given as Croatian.
Patenting in the Austro-Hungarian empire
"The protection of intellectual property in Hungary [was] established in 1896 by virtue of Article 23 of Act XXXVII of 1895 on Patents for Inventions. Before this year there was invention protection by the grace of the king without numbering. The patenting based on subjective rights was started in 1895 together [with] Austria (. . . the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy) and in 1896 the numbering started: 5802.
World War I was politically, historically and administratively key to post-imperial disintegration. Hungary may have been more administratively deferential to Austria prior to 1896. (In terms of patent offices, this may be a matter of Austria per se.) We hope to find more on the other Eastern component nations of the Empire.
Patent laws of 1852, 1867, and 1897-98
Starting in 1852, this was the law on "privileges" which were analogous or equivalent to patents. https://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?aid=rgb&datum=1852&page=903&size=45
In 1867 the AH Empire decentralizes into two pieces, the green and brown pieces on this map.
- The map of the two empires: https://hungarytoday.hu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/map_austria_text.gif
- The agreement is discussed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austro-Hungarian_Compromise_of_1867
- The division between lands to be administered from Vienna (deep pink) and lands to be administered from Budapest (yellow) under the 1867 dual monarchy Ausgleich agreement. From 1878, Bosnia-Herzegovina (green) was jointly administered.
- around 1880 Bosnia joins, having departed the Ottoman Empire somehow. Bosnia was not part of either the Austrian or Hungarian Empires. This wikipedia (free) map shows the three parts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austro-Hungarian_Compromise_of_1867#/media/File:Cisleithanien_Transleithanien.png
It may be that the privileges law continued to 1897, and that there was one central office managing it. Or maybe the Hungarian office started then.
Starting 1897 there were two patent offices, one in Vienna and one in Budapest. The Vienna one handled greater Austria, the brown part on the map, and the Budapest one handled the Hungarian Empire, in the green. Three main laws were passed for the Austrian part:
- This 1897 law introduces the patent system: https://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?aid=rgb&datum=18970004&seite=00000035
It was dated January 28, 1897
- Then there was a law defining the patent courts, which were different from regular courts: https://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?aid=rgb&datum=18980004&seite=00000256
- Then there was a law with details of the structure of the patent offices Sept 20, 1898: https://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?aid=rgb&datum=18980004&seite=00000243
- These three laws went through a parliament and some ministerial offices were involved too. The texts may be clear if we can puzzle out the 19th century German.
Thanks to Aleksandra Dul and her colleague, economic historian Michael Pammer of the University of Linz, for doing this research and sending these laws.
She thinks there must have been a closely similar and analogous Hungarian law.
This book, possibly never scanned, is in libraries in Europe. It commemorates 100 years of the Austrian patent office: Österreichisches Patentamt (Hrsg.): 100 Jahre Österreichisches Patentamt. 1899-1999 Festschrift. 1. Auflage. Österreichisches Patentamt, Wien 1999. Aka: Austrian Patent Office (Ed.): 100 Years of the Austrian Patent Office. 1899-1999 Festschrift. 1st edition. Austrian Patent Office, Vienna 1999.
Here is one from the 60th anniversary: 60 Jahre Österreichisches Patentamt : 1899 - 1959 There will be some libraries that have it, somewhere, in Austria, or perhaps USPTO.
- Visegrad Patent Institute on English Wikipedia(for information on the "Visegrad countries", that is, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia as well as for leads relative to other international groups)
Patents filed in Austria-Hungary: Patent AH?-1890-ap, Patent HU-1895-3392
Patents filed by persons from Austria-Hungary: Patent FR-1901-308324, Patent HU-1901-23722, Patent HU-1914-68455, Patent US-1884-308719, Patent US-1884-302769, Patent US-1894-516581, Patent HU-1899-18308, Patent LU-1901-4251, Patent GB-1901-15960, Patent FR-1901-313995, Patent DE-1901-133698, Patent DE-1901-133699, Patent DE-1901-133697, Patent AT-1903-12660, Patent AT-1900-12657, Patent US-1903-743301, Patent AT-1904-17637, Patent DE-1903-155359, Patent AT-1904-27133, Patent GB-1906-21514, Patent US-1907-869709, Patent AT-1906-30038, Patent CH-1906-39006, Patent US-1908-906559, Patent HU-1907-43204, Patent GB-1907-27408, Patent AT-1908-34977, Patent AT-1909-39879, Patent DE-1908-222386, Patent GB-1910-8619, Patent US-1911-986882, Patent US-1911-983697, Patent US-1911-997455, Patent DE-1913-281533, Patent HU-1915-77146