Our Olympic theme continues as we show you five interesting patents that showcase winter gear that are still very much used today. Chloe Kim’s Gold medal win in snowboarding couldn’t have happened without a snowboard and how would we be able to watch the USA-Canada ice hockey game if the hockey stick was never invented?
Sports technology is constantly progressing as the need for lighter and more aerodynamic materials increases each year. The Olympics often showcase cutting edge equipment that help enable new world records to shatter each year. Whilst people around the world were making variations of the patented items below long before they were officially registered, the patents led to mass production and thus the widespread enjoyment of sports such as skiing and ice hockey.
The first snowmaker was patented in 1926 by James W. Martin Jr. The design created a method of using carbon dioxide to make snow.
Two Swedish brothers and their relative relocated to Illinois and filed the following patent in 1939 for the first snowboard that they nicknamed ‘bunker’: The original was described by Burgeson’s son as being a 15lb curved piece of oak that they strapped their feet to with a leather strap. It wasn’t until 2004 when his son found out that the ‘snowboard’ originated from his father’s patent.
- Ski Lift
The first ‘ski towing device’ was filed in 1939 by George V. Dondero.
- Hockey stick
In 1925, the two-piece hockey stick was patented by The Hespeler stick company from Ontario. This design was easier to produce in large quantities which led to more availability and production of the sticks.
O.W. Everett filed a patent for skates that could be attached to a pair of boots in 1901.
 Transworld Snowboarding
Today marks the opening day of the Winter Olympics 2018 which is taking place in PyeongChang in South Korea. There have already been news worthy stories surrounding this event, including Norway’s mistaken order of 15,000 eggs when they intended to order just 1,500 due to a Google Translate error. This is before the first medal has been awarded!
One headline that has created anticipation is ‘Meet the Robots of the 2018 Olympics’. Robots are still a sci-fi dream for most countries, with their use restricted to factories and still being largely tested. However, in South Korea ‘social’ robots who interact, communicate with and aide humans are much more visible.
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), since 2013 social robot patent applications have risen more than 20 percent annually with the figure rising to 75 percent in the last two years. In terms of their skills, the applications for robots capable of more complex action has risen to 49 percent from 32 percent, whilst applications for robots that are capable of simple repetitive work has dropped to 31 percent from 61 percent.
The use of robots in the 2018 Winter Olympics was already seen as a ‘humanoid’ robot carried the Olympic torch and even cut through a wall to show its abilities before passing the torch to the next runner. Throughout the next few weeks of the Olympics, there will be a robot ski competition to be held on the sidelines with entries from local universities and tech firms, artificial intelligence (AI) powered translation robots, cleaning and service robots and even schools of robotic fish in aquariums in the International Broadcast Center. Whatever happens in the stadiums and on the slopes, the robots will showcase South Korea’s forward thinking use of technology and AI.
Share your Olympic patent stories by using our hashtag #RWSOlympics! Who are you rooting for this year?
 The Smithsonian, 2018
 The Korea Herald, 2017
We just got crushed by a massive Nor’easter in New York City, stay warm out there everyone! Read below for breaking news in foreign patent filing for the week of February 10th:
- In honor of the Olympics, here are 17 patents that made winter sports possible, including the snowboard and bobsled!
- The start date for the Europe’s Unified Patent Court has been pushed back to 2016 at the earliest.
- Starbucks is claiming trademark infringement on parody store, “Dumb Starbucks“. According to spokesman Jim Olson, “we appreciate the humor but they can’t use our name. It’s a protected trademark. It’s our trademark.”
- inovia news: We recently added 5 new direct (Paris Convention) filing destinations!
We will be attending the Global IPO and the AUTM Conferences next week in San Francisco. Come say hello if you will be attending! See you back here next week for more IP updates.