Say that an individual were a slave in the United States before the passage of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, abolishing slavery. Could such a slave own intellectual property over things they created (let's assume it was of their own volition and not as a request of their owner)?

For instance, would they own the copyright to a work of art that they created, or have the ability to patent an invention they made? If not, could their owner claim that ability? Or could they claim it after they had been freed?

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    I don't know for certain but I do not believe that slaves could own anything. Any copyright, patent rights, or the like, related to a slave's labor would no doubt belong to the owner. – phoog Jan 7 '16 at 21:21
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    Joseph Holt, the Commissioner of Patents ruled in 1857 against a slave owner in a case where the owner was trying to obtain a patent for an invention of one of his slaves. – Jason Aller Jan 7 '16 at 21:57
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    According to the Dred Scott decision, a slave was property, not a person. So all your references to a person cannot apply. – Mohair Jan 7 '16 at 22:17
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    @Thunderforge I held off putting that as an answer as I'm hoping someone will have a wider answer addressing other kinds of intellectual property beyond patents, and with better references. I figured it was a good hint to leave that others could use to find a better answer. – Jason Aller Jan 7 '16 at 22:22
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    @JasonAller's comment doesn't seem to answer your question as asked. In that case the court ruled that the owner couldn't obtain a patent for an invention of one of his slaves. It didn't rule that the slave could hold a patent. Mohair's point about Dred Scott is probably more on point. Slaves were held not to be protected by the constitution, so had no recourse to federal courts to pursue copyright or patent claims. – Charles E. Grant Jan 7 '16 at 22:22

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