Who was Elisha Grey? If you don't know, or aren't sure, you are not alone. Although he may have been the true inventor of the telephone, Mr. Grey has, unfortunately, been lost in anonymity at the cruel hands of fate and the patent system. Properly documenting the creative effort, securing confidential information, and acting quickly can often determine whether a scientist is heralded as a pioneer or relegated to the realm of obscure trivia, as history has done to Grey. The commercial value, viability, and ownership of a new invention often hinges upon taking the right preventive steps.

In many countries, the first person to file for a patent is entitled to it. However, in the United States, the right to a patent is determined by who invented it first. If Mr. Grey had been able to prove he had created the first telephone, then the fact that he filed...

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