Next Tuesday 19th June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will issue their 10 millionth patent. In celebration, here are some key points in the USPTO’s history!
The first Patent Board was composed of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph following the 1790 Patent Act. Patent Number 1, signed by President George Washington, was awarded to Samuel Hopkins for the improvements in making ‘pot ash and pearl ash’, otherwise known as a form of fertilizer. In 1802, Dr William Thornton became the first ‘Superintendent of Patents’ and served for 26 years. In 1975, the Patent Office was renamed to become the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as we know it today and in 2003, the headquarters were moved from Washington D.C. to Alexandria, Virginia.
In the lead up to the 10 millionth patent there is great excitement as to who will be named the patent holder. Let’s look at the past millionth patent holders and their inventions:
1911: Francis H. Holton received US patent no. 1,000,000 for an improvement in vehicle tires.
1935: Joseph Ledwinka received US patent no. 2,000,000 for a pneumatic tire for rail cars.
1961: Kenneth Eldredge received US patent no. 3,000,000 for an automatic reading system that converts human language into machine language.
1976: Robert Mendenhall received US patent no. 4,000,000 for a recycling process for asphalt-aggregate compositions.
1991: Lonnie O. Ingram, Tyrrell Conway and Flavio Alterthum received US patent no. 5,000,000 for creating a means to use E. coli bacteria to produce ethanol.
1999: Jeffrey C. Hawkins and Michael Albanese received US patent no. 6,000,000 for a method of synchronizing files between computers.
2006: John P. O’Brien received US patent no. 7,000,000 for inventing low-cost textile fibers form polysaccharides.
2011: Robert J. Greenberg, Kelly H. McClure and Arup Roy received US patent no. 8,000,000 for a visual prosthesis for people who have gone blind from retinal degeneration.
2015: Matthew Carroll received US patent no. 9,000,000 for a device that collects rainwater from a car’s windshield and recycles it for cleaning the windshield.
Predicting US patent no. 10,000,000 is an impossible task but we are excited to celebrate this milestone with the USPTO! What is your favorite invention?