The U.S. patent system In the early years following the passage of the ‹rst patent statute in 1790, the patent system was simple. The population of the United States was less than 4 million, and the numbers of inventions were few. The fees for a patent were about $5.00, and the term was 14 years. The responsibility for granting patents was placed with a board consisting of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney General. As Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson was the ‹rst administrator of the American Patent System and was, in effect, the ‹rst patent examiner. Today, the U.S. Patent Of‹ce employs nearly 7,000 patent examiners.