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Archived updates for Monday, May 23, 2005

World's Oldest Patent Attorney Says You Can't Learn it Overnight



The nation's oldest patent lawyer (USPTO Registration No. 13,782) was awarded an honorary degree by the Franklin Pierce Law Center on May 21, 2005. And next month later, he'll be off to a reunion at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he got an engineering degree in 1925.

C. Yardley Chittick was born in Boston, MA on October 22, 1900, the son of a silk miller who lost his job in 1905. The family was very poor, until his father reinvented himself as an expert witness and consultant ten year’s later. With the help of an uncle, Chittick was able to attend Phillips Academy in Andover, MA where he roomed across the hall from Humphrey Bogart in 1917. He later attended MIT where he earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering.

After graduation from MIT, Chittick worked for his father for about three years and decided to go out on his own. At 24 years-old, he interviewed for a job with Thomas Edison, but turned down the offer to work with a golf club manufacturer. He still says that it was the best thing that he ever did. The position put him in contact with various inventors and patent lawyers so that when the Great Depression hit, he decided to go to law school.

Chittick earned his Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University and passed the Patent Bar in 1934 when he accepted a position at the United States Patent Office for an annual salary of $1900. He later started his own practice, retiring in 1985.

Chittick has since been a regular guest at the New Hampshire law school commencement exercises giving this advice -- "You've got to be honest. No cheating. And you have to learn it slowly, to be a lawyer. You can't learn it overnight."
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