Tuesday, September 30, 2008

U.S. Patent #3351836


Here's a clip from the legendary New Yorker piece by John Seabrook titled The Flash of Genius:

Three days later, Kearns, once again driving the Galaxie, reappeared for his appointment with Neill. He was surprised to find about ten Ford engineers waiting for him in the parking lot. They took turns running the wipers; they poked around under the hood; they crawled under the dash. One at a time, several engineers took Kearns aside and asked him how his wiper worked. “I didn’t want to tell them how I’d done it, but I didn’t want to be impolite, either,” Kearns recalls. Eventually, Neill appeared. He had a Mercury brought out of the lab, and, keeping Kearns at a distance, demonstrated to him that, as chance would have it, Ford was working on an intermittent wiper, too. Nonetheless, Neill said, Ford would like to look at Kearns’ invention, if Kearns would like to show it to Ford.


It's a good thing Robert W. Kearns later earned U.S. Patent #3351836 (11/7/1967) Windshield wiper control system with intermittent operation. For without this essential document, his invention may have only enriched drivers ... and Ford.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out www.FreePatentsOnline.com: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Robert W. Kearns: Windshield Wiper Man

This is Robert W. Kearns (1927-2005).

These are his twelve (12) patents as available on FreePatentsOnline.com.

The journey to the intermittent windshield wipers invention began on Kearns' wedding night in 1953, when a champagne cork popped and struck his left eye, which eventually went almost totally blind. Nearly ten years later, in 1963, Kearns was driving his Ford Galaxie through a light rain, and the constant movement of the wiper blades irritated his already tenuous vision. He modeled his invention on the human eye, which automatically blinks every few seconds

Tune in tomorrow to learn more about his U.S. Patent #3351836, Windshield wiper control system with intermittent operation.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out www.FreePatentsOnline.com: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Movie Coming October 3rd, 2008


This week we're covering the patent related to a big new movie that lands October 3rd, 2008.


Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out www.FreePatentsOnline.com: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Preston Tucker


Preston Tucker (1903-1956) had seven patents.

He is best known for his 1948 Tucker Torpedo, a car which introduced many features that have since become widely used in modern cars. Production of the Torpedo was shut down amidst scandal and stock fraud accusations on March 3, 1949. The 1988 movie, Tucker: The Man and His Dream starred Jeff Bridges and was directed by Francis Ford Coppola.


Perhaps Tucker's most interesting notion is reflected in U.S. Patent #2408707 (10/1/1946), Gun mounting and control mechanism.


Tucker's narrow-wheelbase armored combat car could reach over 115 mph, far in excess of the Army's design specifications. Of strong appeal, however, was the highly-mobile, power-operated gun turret the combat car featured. The Tucker Turret was used in PT boats, landing craft, and B-17 and B-29 bombers during WW II.


Next week we cover another prominent inventor, and the movie about his life that comes out on October 3rd, 2008 ....

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out www.FreePatentsOnline.com: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tricycle Lawnmower

Lawn mowing is a chore, right? What if your child could cut the grass ... while bike riding?

Take a look at U.S. Patent 4455816, Pedal operated mower (June 26, 1984):

A tricycle frame providing basic support for the pedal operated mower, pedals turning a forward sprocket for providing locomotion, the locomotion communicating by a chain to turn a rear sprocket mounted on a shaft having a set of split cutting blades peripherally disposed about the cutting shaft for turning the shaft and cutting blades, and gear means connecting the cutter shaft with rear wheels of the tricycle frame and resulting in the locomotion thereof. A protective shield is mounted on the tricycle frame to protect the operator from debris thrown up during the course of mowing, and also a set of goose neck handle bars, an appropriate sized front wheel and a large triangular padded seat are also provided in the combination.



Apparently no effort was made to market the tricycle lawn mower, which actually was first contemplated far earlier than 1984. Its propulsion took too much effort. But there was actually a steam-driven mower from The Coldwell Lawn Mower Co., and it could not be called unsuccessful.

Patented in 1898, it was being used on the Capitol Grounds in Washington as early as 1900; and in 1904, the Scientific American stated in the article from which the picture above was taken, "A number of these machines are now in use."


The Newburgh, NY-based Coldwell Lawn Mower Co. no longer exists; its assets were taken over by the Toro Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. But its four patents live on here thanks to www.FreePatentsOnline.com.


Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

PayPal Patent: Max Levchin

Online payments are a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. The most popular method is PayPal, which eBay bought in 2002 for $1.5 billion.

Here's from where it sprang, System and method for electronically exchanging value among distributed users:

A system and method for facilitating a value exchange transaction. A first party initiates the transaction by selecting or providing an identifier of another party and the value to be exchanged. The second party may be identified by a pre-existing identifier such as an electronic mail address, telephone number, etc. The system informs the second party of the transaction (e.g., using the specified pre-existing identifier). If the second party is not a registered user of the system, he or she is invited to register and complete the transaction. The system may comprise a synchronization server for exchanging transaction details with users' devices, a communication server for registering new users and/or conducting transactions online and a financial server for interacting with external financial institutions.




That is U.S. Patent #7089208 (8/8/06), to Max Levchin and others. And he also has six other patents or patent apps, see them on www.FreePatentsOnline.com listed here.

And now? Levchin is at Slide.com, as CEO & Founder.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fire Hydrant Inventor: Birdsill Holly


Consider the humble fire hydrant, and think back to an early America where virtually everything ... was made of wood. And light came from candles, and heat from fires. Firefighters were especially busy, and (ideally) fires get put out with ready water close to the blaze....

Holly Manufacturing Company was the namesake business of inventor Birdsill Holly (1820-1893). Birdsill Holly was awarded U.S. Patent #94749 dated 9/14/1869 for a fire hydrant.


Holly was from Lockport, NY. His very first patented invention was a rotary water pump. He not only has the key early fire hydrant patent, but Holly Manufacturing employed over 500 men at its peak. It was one of the largest manufacturing plants in the Northeast at the time.

Holly had over 150 patents when he died, second only to Thomas Edison in the U.S. He was also a key contributor in the invention of the Sybill Steam Engine, which became the first non-man powered fire engine.

For Inventing Knowledge, go to www.FreePatentsOnline.com.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

PCR Innovator

Meet Kary Mullis.

Consider his genius; click here to see his thirty (30) patents and patent applications.

Dr. Mullis is the Father of PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction. He conceived it in 1983 while working at the Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, CA, along with other researchers there.

Cetus Corporation
was the Assignee for his method to start and stop DNA polymerase enzyme activity at specific points along a single strand of DNA. Dr. Mullis found that by harnessing this component of molecular reproduction technology, a target DNA of interest could be amplified exponentially, and fast. This DNA amplification procedure was an in vitro process-- that is, in a test-tube.

PCR, as Dr. Mullis said, “lets you pick the piece of DNA you’re interested in and have as much of it as you want.” PCR has proved to be a boon to researchers everywhere--helping drive thousands of subsequent inventions.

Today? Nobel Prize winner (1993) Mullis is on the Board of Advisors at Boveran. And when Cetus closed in 1991, Hoffman-La Roche purchased the PCR patents ... for $300 million.
Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crocs-- Ubiquitous & Patented


That odd-looking rubber shoe is not only everywhere, but the company has 34 patents/patent apps, take a look here.

Our favorite is U.S. Patent #20060048407, "Breathable workshoes and methods for manufacturing such," witness:

Among other things, the present invention provides various footwear pieces, and methods for manufacturing such pieces. In various cases, the footwear pieces are molded from a lofting material. Further, in various cases, the footwear pieces include one or more ventilators formed in the footwear piece that are surrounded by liquid conductors capable of channeling liquid spilled on the surface of the footwear pieces away from a foot within the footwear pieces.

In June 2002, George Boedecker used a company he had previously formed called Western Brands to launch a shoe company that eventually became known as Crocs, Inc.

US APPLICATION
Boedecker had been approached earlier that same year to produce and distribute a shoe originally developed by Fin Project NA (now Foam Creations Inc.), a Canadian company.

In September of 2002, Western Brands obtained the rights to the name Crocs.com.

Crocs is now a public company (NASDAQ: CROX), based in Niwot, Colorado. Revenue? $900 million in the last year.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A President, A Patent



Abraham Lincoln took a boatload of merchandise down the Mississippi River from New Salem to New Orleans, when he was just a young man. At one key point the boat slid onto a dam and was set free only after much effort. Years later, while traveling on the Great Lakes, Lincoln’s ship was becalmed because of a sandbar. These experiences led him to conceive his invention, U.S. Patent #6,469 for "A Device for Buoying Vessels Over Shoals" issued on May 22, 1849.

Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States in 1860.



The invention consisted of a set of bellows attached to the hull of a ship just below the water line. After reaching a shallow place, the bellows were filled with air that lifted-- buoyed-- the vessel higher. The invention was never marketed, for it was discovered that the extra weight the device added increased the probability of running onto sandbars, defeating the very purpose of the invention.

Abraham Lincoln whittled the model for his patent application with his own hands out of wood; it's on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln was a devoted fan of the patent system-- in 1858 he called the introduction of patent laws one of the three most important developments in world history, along with the discovery of America and the perfection of printing.

During the Civil War, Lincoln took a profound personal interest in new weapons, advocating the use of ironclad ships, observation balloons, breech-loading rifles, and even machine guns. Lincoln stated:

"The patent system added the fuel of interest
to the fire of genius."


Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Artificial Heart Patent: Dr. Michael DeBakey



Dr. Michael DeBakey died this summer at 99. Known as the father of cardiovascular surgery, he performed 60,000 operations over six decades. He was the chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, director of The Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, and senior attending surgeon of The Methodist Hospital in Houston.



He was also an important inventor, with three notworthy patents. Check them out here, on FreePatentsOnline.

Consider U.S. patent 5947892 for a Rotary Blood Pump (think Artificial Heart) awarded to Dr. DeBakey and two others on September 7th, 1999:

A blood pump that comprises a pump housing having a blood flow path therethrough, a blood inlet, and a blood outlet; a stator mounted to the pump housing, the stator having a stator field winding for producing a stator magnetic field; a flow straightener located within the pump housing, and comprising a flow straightener hub and at least one flow straightener blade attached to the flow straightener hub; a rotor mounted within the pump housing for rotation in response to the stator magnetic field, the rotor comprising an inducer and an impeller; the inducer being located downstream of the flow straightener, and comprising an inducer hub and at least one inducer blade attached to the inducer hub; the impeller being located downstream of the inducer, and comprising an impeller hub and at least one impeller blade attached to the impeller hub; and preferably also comprising a diffuser downstream of the impeller, the diffuser comprising a diffuser hub and at least one diffuser blade. Blood flow stagnation and clot formation within the pump are minimized by, among other things, providing the inducer hub with a diameter greater than the diameter of the flow straightener hub; by optimizing the axial spacing between the flow straightener hub and the inducer hub, and between the impeller hub and the diffuser hub; by optimizing the inlet angle of the diffuser blades; and by providing fillets or curved transitions between the upstream end of the inducer hub and the shaft mounted therein, and between the impeller hub and the shaft mounted therein.



Dr. Michael DeBakey, 1908-2008. One of five children of Lebanese immigrants, he attributed his surgical skills to his mother, who had taught him to sew and knit. He earned a science degree from Tulane University in New Orleans and, in 1932, received an MD degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine. From 1935 to 1937, DeBakey studied in Europe, at Strasbourg and Heidelberg universities, before returning to Tulane to teach surgery.

Surgeon, Healer, Professor ... Inventor.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Inventor of the Apple iPod?

Hitchin, Hertfordshire, U.K.: Kane Kramer left school at 15. But that didn't stop him from-- apparently -- inventing the iPod.

Kramer is now 52. The father of three had to sell his home last year and move his wife and kids to a rental home after he was forced to shut-down his struggling furniture business.

Kramer conceived and built a "Portable Data Processing and Storage System" in 1979, at age 23. Here's his U.S. patent, and here's his fateful sketch:


He called it the IXI, and it stored just 3.5 minutes of music on to a chip – but Kramer figured the capacity would improve over time.

His sketches reflected a credit-card-sized player with a rectangular screen and a central menu button to scroll through a selection of music tracks – seem familiar?

Kramer tried to commercialize his device, but in 1988, unable to raise about $100K in U.S. dollars and feuding with his partners, he couldn't renew patents across 120 countries and the technology became public property.

Today Apple sells about 100 iPods a minute.

Kramer is at least now seeking to negotiate with Apple to gain some compensation from the copyright that he owns on the drawings.

Kramer has a website, and is now working on something called Monicall, to allow people to have phone calls recorded and emailed to the various parties as an audio file.



Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.

Monday, September 8, 2008

First U.S. Patent


Way back in 1421, Italian Filippo Brunelleschi received the world's first patent for invention. He created a method of transporting marble more cheaply via a paddleboat and his patent gave him the right to burn any ship borrowing his design for three years.

America's very first patent was granted July 31, 1790 to Samuel Hopkins-- it was later deemed patent #X1. Hopkins patented a process for making potash and pearl ash, ingredients in soap. His patent was not issued an actual number in 1790, but was duly registered by name and date.

On the 4th of July, 1836 the Patent Act was introduced and the numbering system implemented. Henry Ellsworth was the first Superintendent of Patents.

Up to this time about 10,000 patents had already been issued, but many subsequently were lost due to fire. Only just over 25% of the patents were restored and re-registered with an "X" before the number.

Senator John Ruggles of Maine (Brown University graduate, 1789-1874; pictured above), holds patent #1 which was registered July 13, 1836 for a cog mechanism for locomotive wheels. Click here to see it on FreePatentsOnline.com.





During his tenure in Congress, Ruggles served as chairman of the Committee on Patents, and in 1836 framed the bill for the reorganization of the United States Patent Office. He is called "The Father of the U.S. Patent Office."

"Patent #1" from Ruggles was about a type of train wheel designed to reduce the adverse effects of weather on the track.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com.