Ivan Levinstein

Ivan Levinstein (1845-1916) was a pioneer in the manufacture of synthetic dyestuffs.

He was born in Charlottenburg, Germany, and after carrying out extended research on the preparation of aniline dyestuffs he moved to Manchester. When he was only 19 he set up a small factory manufacturing synthetic dyestuffs, which later became the nucleus of the Dyestuffs Division of ICI and then a part of BASF.

Levinstein was extremely fortunate to have both the prolific inventor's brain, as well as the drive, ambition and vision that goes with being a successful entrepreneur. Remarkably, he was only 19 when he began manufacturing aniline dyestuffs (and other products).

Levinstein also became known in legal circles because of the crucial role he played in developing thinking and legislation on intellectual property. In an important lecture given as recently as 2000, Lord Hoffman quoted Lord Justice Pearson's 1890s judgement: 'I have no hesitation in saying that, so far as I am capable of judging, the process he has used is a process which is much cheaper, much simpler, and which produces less waste, and results in giving you naphthionic acid in a much purer form than it would according to the process mentioned in the patent. I think Mr Levinstein has employed great skill and great perseverance in finding out these processes, but I am sorry to say that the law compels me to inform him that these processes cannot be used in the production of this colouring matter, seeing that the production of this is 'protected by a patent'.

Both Ivan Levinstein and his son Herbert served as SCI World Presidents, in 1901-1903 and 1929-1930 respectively.

Image: unbekannt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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