The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 but, for a time, each province had its own patent, trade mark and copyright laws. This meant that foreign companies like General Motors and the Motion Picture Patents Company (both founded in 1908), had to apply separately in the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and Orange Free State for their patents and trade mark registrations.
During the period before the First World War his patent practice grew steadily. One of his interesting cases, which has been reported, was Ussher vs Chamber of Mines 1912 TPD 1075. In this case his client, Ussher had invented a method of laying dust in mining operations and had applied for a patent therefore. This application was opposed by the Chamber of Mines, but unsuccessfully, because the patent was duly granted.
In 1916, the government passed the Act on Patents, Designs, Trade Marks and Copyright, replacing all provincial legislation. This made it possible to file in Pretoria a single application for a patent, trademark or design registration, covering the entire Union.
Having assisted the government with introducing the new intellectual property law, he published a booklet entitles ‘Handbook on the Law and Practice of Patents, Designs, Trade Marks and Copyright in the Union of South Africa’ in November 1916. He indicated that the booklet was especially for use by patent agents abroad and distributed it free of charge to leading agents throughout the world. The result, according to EV Adams, was that the firm shot ahead of other firms of patent agents.
Harry Adams kept open a position for EV. When the latter returned from German East Africa in 1917, the two brothers formed a partnership in July 1917 – and so the first Adams & Adams partnership was born. EV ruefully said that, even though he was an advocate with an LLB and thought he would teach his brother Harry the law, the shoe was definitely on the other foot from the start.
Because of his engineering training, Harry specialised in patent and trade mark work, while EV did conveyancing and general legal work.