Malling-Hansen´s Application for a Patent in Berlin Rejected.

Research and transcription by Dieter Eberwein.

Comments and translation into English by Jørgen Malling Christensen.

Research, illustrations and publication by Sverre Avnskog.


Dieter found the document in which Malling-Hansen´s application for a Prussian patent was rejected in May 1870. The document was handwritten in the old style of longhand, practised in government offices at the time. The writing style was not standardised, and each office used it’s own style and format, thus making it exceeding difficult for modern day readers to read. I have frequently encountered the same problem with documents from Danish government offices from this period, and often they are a complete nightmare to decipher, because of the personalised style of the letters.


Judging from the content and the phrasing, I take it that this does not constitute the official refusal document by the Berlin office – rather, it seems to be comments by an advisor, directed to the technical department as his opinion and contribution to a formal office decision.


Malling-Hansen did not give up after this Berlin office rejection: He sent a similar application to the Bayern (Bavaria) Office and was awarded a patent on the box model of the writing ball on November 12, 1870. Information about this patent was found recently by Sverre.


Below is the German text from the Berlin office, followed by a translation.

- - - - -

Zu No.467 Techn.Deput.


Die vorgelegte sogenannte Schreibkugel, oder vielmehr Druckapparat ist, m.E., zur Patentierung nicht geeignet, weil derselbe im Princip und in seinen wesentlichen Theilen nur bekanntes enthält.


Ähnliche Apparate sind wiederholt Gegenstand von Patentgesuchen gewesen. Das Abweichende beschränkt sich auf die Stellung der Stöpsel zueinander, da der Apparat, wie es scheint, haupsächlich für Taubstumme bestimmt ist.


Hierin liegt aber nach den bestehenden Grundsätzen nichts Patentfähiges.



3/5 70


The presented so called writing ball, or rather printing apparatus is, in my estimation, not suitable for a patent, since it in principle and in its essential parts only contains already known elements.


Similar apparatuses have repeatedly been the object of patent applications. The deviation is limited to the position of the type bars[1], since the apparatus, as it appears, is mainly meant for deaf-mutes.


Considering the present principles, this does not make it patentable.


[1] JMC: Dieter helped me with the understanding of this peculiar word – in German: ‘Stöpsel’ – which Dieter says is a derogative word with a variety of meanings: key/type bar/stamp.

The original document.