Celebrating Innovation: Patents on July 4th

As a lawyer as well as an engineer, part of celebrating July 4 for me is a celebration of the ideals that our constitution aims for.  And as a patent lawyer, the fact that patent law is part of the constitution – that’s true! – has always been interesting too.  So right around Independence Day seems as good a time as any to kick off a series of patent posts.  

Technical innovation is crucial to so many businesses, and using patents to protect innovation is important work for a lot of people in STEM fields.  So learning even a little a bit about patents can be really useful for budding engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and others.  It can also lead to some interesting history (more on that in a later post) and some head-scratchers. 

or example, I wonder how many people would lay down some money for a pants sled, a gerbil vest, or air-conditioned shoes.  And an in-the-car coffee maker (slide 4 on the selector) would make me pretty nervous. 

Gerbil vest patent figure of boy wearing the device

On the other hand, magnetic wallpaper for a locker and a holder for short crayon ends – both invented by kids! – seem like great ideas.

Patent figure drawing of crayon tip holder
Crayon Holder
None(U.S. Pat. No. 6,402,407)
Another invented-by-a-kid concept, this crayon holder lets you keep drawing with the bits of broken crayon that would otherwise end up as flotsam on the bottom of your crayon bucket. It was the brainchild of 11-year-old Cassidy Goldstein, who got a licensing deal for her invention and earned enough money to put herself through college

Anyway, I suppose you never know what idea – “crazy” or otherwise – will spark a fad or change an industry forever.