Joseph A. Kurz, 86, who retired in 1956 as a primary examiner for the U.S. Patent Office and then practiced patent law here for several years, died of pneumonia Monday at the Fairland Nursing Home in Silver Spring.

In 1916, Mr. Kurz became a patent examiner in the Patent Office's old Division 18, which handled patent applications for combustion engines and other types of fluid motors and fluid motor systems, including jet engines. He became a primary examiner in that division in 1936.

After his retirement, he was a partner in the old Washington law firm of Harmon, Pierce and Kurz, patent attorneys. He retired a second time in the early 1960s.

Mr. Kurz was born in Philadelphia. He attended Villanova University on a scholarship and graduated with highest honors in 1915, earning a degree in engineering. He also earned a law degree with honors from American University here. He lived in Takoma Park.

In 1919, he married M. Faye Rude, a secretary in the Patent Office, Mrs. Kurz died last year.

Mr. Kurz and his wife were founding members of the Takoma Park Christian Church. He also was active in Boy Scout Troop 36 in Washington, the Odd Fellows and the Patent Office Society.

Survivors include three sons, John R., of Hyattsville, Philip E., of Bethesda and James Q., of New Bern, N.C.; three daughters, Barbara J., of West Chester, Pa., Elizabeth J. Newton of Little Rock, and Dr. Loretta K. Gilmore of Silver Spring; four sisters, Anna Spross, Florence Spross, Marie Mahoney and Agnes Wells, all of Philadelphia; 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Children's Hospital National Medical Center.