Value of IP, from the Beginning
Company founder Warren Johnson’s patent rights agreement
June 5, 1884 (PD: 201606)
On June 5, 1884, Johnson Controls’ founder Warren Johnson transferred, in part, a patent he was granted for “temperature regulating valves” to his business partner William Plankinton.
The two men had founded the Milwaukee Electric Manufacturing Co. the year before in order to develop, manufacture, and market Johnson’s ever growing list of inventions. Plankinton, a Milwaukee hotelier and scion of the Plankinton Packing Company, financed the venture from his considerable assets. As a part of their business arrangement, Johnson signed over half interest in every patent he received (including his 1883 patent for the first room thermostat) to Plankinton.
A year later, on May 1, 1885, Johnson and Plankinton formed a new company, the Johnson Electric Service Co., today’s Johnson Controls. Johnson agreed to assign any new patent rights he obtained to the new company.
Of course, Johnson’s system of automatic temperature regulation, for which he received a patent in 1895, proved to be the new enterprise’s greatest success and the foundation of what is, today, a Fortune 100 company.