Happy Birthday, George Washington

In the good old days, George Washington’s birthday was holiday, making February a great month for school kids, because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was also a holiday. Two days off in the bleakest month, coupled with cupcakes on Valentine’s Day, and it was a great month to be in grade school. In addition to being celebrated by generations of school children, Inventors have celebrated George Washington many times, including in these ten patents:

U.S. Patent No. D8377 protects a Medal honoring George Washington:

U.S. Patent No. D9138 also features George Washington:

U.S. Patent No. D9161 on a badge featuring George Washington:

U.S. Patent No. D9247 is on a hatchet centennial charm that features George Washington:

U.S. Patent No. D9310 on a fan design features both George and Marth Washington and their Mount Vernon estate:

U.S. Patent No. D9310 protects a statue of George Washington:

U.S. Patent No. D17839 protects a badge featuring Geroge Washington:

U.S. Patent No. D21,357 protects a spoon decorated with an image of George Washington.

U.S. Patent No. D21688 protects a badge featuring George Washington:

U.S. Patent No. D21835 on a spoon featuring George Washington:

Happy 292nd Birthday, George, and thanks for the days off!

Presidents Day 2024

Presidents have had a lot to do with patents over the years. Presidents used to sign the patents, and George Washington signed the first patent issued by the U.S. Government on July 31, 1790:

Of course every patent nerd knows that Abraham Lincoln on May 22, 1849, Abraham Lincoln received Patent No. 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals. He is the only president to have received a patent.

However, a number of presidents have been the subject of patents:

U.S Patent No. D41046, issued July 17, 1917, honors presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Wilson:

President Washington got another shout out a few years early, in U.S. Patent No. 537,666, which issued on April 16, 1895, on a toy bank featuring the future President and a cherry tree:

The presidents from Washington to Grant were featured in U.S. Patent No. D9138, which issued March 14, 1875, on a fan:

The presidents from Washington to Grant also shared the spotlight in U.S. Patent No. D8000 issued January 12, 1875:

On August 3, 1915, U.S. Patent No. 1148885 made the Presidents part of a patented puzzle:

The first 31 presidents made were celebrated in U.S. Patent No. 2,284,256 on a Card Game, issued May 26, 1942:

There are of course many other patents that mention one or more presidents, but those are for a future Presidents Day post.

VALEN-TECH II (More IP to Ensure your Happy Valentine’s Day)

U.S. Patent No. 1,353,709 discloses a token “which may be presented as an expression of friendship or admiration.”

•U.S. Patent No. 2,726,397discloses an apron with interchangeable appliques, explaining “often such persons as housewives and hostesses desire to decorate articles of clothing, curtains, coverings and so forth with figures and designs of various shape and color.” Reportedly this was even more popular than the Valentine-themed vacuum cleaner.

U.S. Patent No. 3,016,178 discloses a box construction, such as Valentines Day boxes, which are intended to contain candy or other comestibles or flowers. This is one of many patents on heart-shaped boxes.

U.S. Patent No. 6,172,328 discloses methods for etching, cutting and/or altering, the surface of a flower, plant, cut foliage, allowing one to inscribe a Valentine’s Day greeting on the flowers themselves.

U.S. Patent No. 6,053,399 “relates to mailers and envelopes and, more particularly, to envelops and mailers for sending small sachets and photographs.”

U.S. Patent No. 5,160,087 discloses a drinking straw, designed to demonstrate the need for teamwork.

U.S. Patent No. 4993184 discloses a “heart-shaped, free standing, living plant comprises at least two living plants, a left plant and a right plant, formed into opposed lobes forming the heart configuration.”

Last, but not least, U.S. Patent No. 5727565, discloses a heart shaped “kissing shield comprised of a thin, flexible membrane and a frame or holder” to ensure that your Valentine’s Day is both safe and happy!

Mardi Gras 2024

More examples of how the patent system improves everything — including Mardi Gras. U.S. Patent No. D645226 protects an Edible Cookie Mask, and get that last snack in before Lent begins:

U.S. Patent No. D629177 also provides a Mardi Gras mask, but without the snack:

U.S. Patent No. PP21407 provides an Aeonium Plant named “Mardi Gras” (and a cool word with all of the vowels):

U.S. Patent No. D611117 provides a Mardi Gras Doubloon Fishing Lure, to get a jump on meatless Fridays:

U.S. Patent No. PP15203 provides an Abelia Plant named “Mardi Gras”:

U.S. Patent No. D375658 provides a serving basket in the form of a Mardi Gras parade float:

U.S. Patent No. 8672169 provides a decorated cup for your Mardi Gras libations:

You Better Watch Out

There are approximately 638 issued patents that mention Santa Clas, more that a hundred or so that actually show him. His first appearance was in U.S. Patent No. 276,586 in 1883:

Since then, his appearance has changed over the years, as the following collection shows:

Santa Claus, whatever he looks like, is about to come to town a gain. Happy holidays!

Columbus Day 2023

While he may not live up to modern standards, Chrisopher Columbus’ voyages to the New World were, for the time, heroic and skillful, navigating the barely sixty foot Santa Maria wil a crew of 42 on a thirty-five day journey across the Atlantic Ocean. His achievements were celebrated and memorialized, including on Owen Gray’s Educational Globe. the subject of U.S. Patent No. 418455 issued December 31, 1889, which showed two of Columbus’ four voyages in dashed lines on the globe:

as the patent explained:

J.W. Meese patented (U.S. Patent No. D21533) this statue of Columbus in 1892:

There are numerous other Columbus statues, medals, plaques, spoons, and canes, celebrating his bravery.

Flag Day 2023

Inventors have devoted some attention to the celebration of Flag Day. U.S. Patent No. 4,972,794 on a Flagstaff with Protective Housing is the result. As the Abtract explains:

More recently, U.S. Patent No. 9,672,761 on a Flag and Banner Display System for Motor Vehicles and the Like, reviewed the law before disclosing a way of displaying a flag on a vehicle:

Earth Day 2023

Earth Day has been the inspiration for numerous environmental initiatives, including the EPA. and it has also been the motivation for many inventions:

U.S. Patent No. 5505114 protects a Simulated Musical Rainmaker, which the patent describes as the “perfect toy to celebrate Earth Day.

U.S. Patent No. D407127 protects the ornamental design for a baseball. which can include an Earth Day logo:

U.S. Patent No. 10,712,723 on a System and Method of Compiling and Organizing Power Consumption Data and Converting such Data into One or More User Actionable Formats, suggests that the invention “could include real-time feedback as events like Earth Day occur, to demonstrate the en-masse savings and conservation, the environmental impact, etc.”

U.S. Patent No. 9336540 on a Method and System for use of Game for Charity Donations suggests that it can be used to raise funds for Earth Day:

On this this 54th Earth Day, the world has accomplished a lot, but there is much more to be done; hopefully with creativity and inventiveness we can continue to make progress.numer

St. Patrick’s Day 2023

Shamrocks, Leprechauns, and pots of gold are hard to find (except on St. Patrick’s Day), but the hunting is good in the patent collection:

One of the Novelty Displays in U.S. Patent No. 2,101,592 is this Leprechaun’s hat with a shamrock
U.S. Patent No. 7,530,893 on a Wagering Game with Dynamic Visual Gaming Indicia shows Leprechauns and pots of gold on the game display

U.S. Patent No. 8,273,441 on a Garage Door Display and Decorative Article features a pot of gold and a shamrock
U.S. Patent No. 5,487,924 on a Napkin Ring features a Leprechaun and a pot of gold
U.S. Patent No. 6,276,074 features an article of footwear with a leprechaun decoration
U.S. Patent No. D2348 covers a shamrock decoration for a collar

U.S. Patent No. D5777 covers a badge decorated with two springs of shamrocks (b)
U.S. Patent No. D12927 on a Design for an Emblem for the Ancient Order of Hibernians features shamrocks
U.S. Patent No. D19577 protects the design of a Bottle with a shamrock shape
U.S. Patent No. 21304 protects the design of a Spoon with a spray of shamrock
U.S. Patent No. D 22,226 protects the design of a Badge with a shamrock shape
U.S. Patent No. 31401 on a Match Box or Similar Article is decorated with shamrocks

While shamrocks, Leprechauns, and pots of gold are usually scarce in the real world (except on St. Patrick’s Day), they are pretty easy to find in the world of patents. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 8, 2023 – International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In the field of inventions and patents, there are many important and prolific women inventors, but one worthy of remembrance on International Women’s Day is Elizabeth J. “Lizzie” Magie was born in Macomb, Illinois in 1866. She was a stenographer, short story and poetry writer, comedian, stage actress, feminist, and engineer. In 1893, at the age of 26, Lizzie received her first patent on an improvement in typewriters:

U.S. Patent No. 498129 issued May 23 1893 on a Type Writing Machine

Lizzie was a political activist, and invented a game called The Landlord’s Game to demonstrate the economic ill effects of land monopolism, and the use of taxes as a remedy for it. Lizzie applied for a patent on her board game, and was granted U.S. Patent 748,626 on January 5, 1904:

U.S. Patent No. 748626, Issued January 5, 1904.

As her first patent on the Landlord’s game was expiring, Lizziey, now married, invented and patented an updated version of the Landlord’s Game:

U.S. Patent No. 1,509,312 issued September 23, 1924.

If Lizzie’s game seems familiar, you may be thinking of C.B. Darrow’s Monopoly game, patented in 1935 and marketed by Parker Brothers.

U.S. Patent No. 2,026,082, issued December 31, 1935.

After the release of Monopoly, Lizzie gave in interview in which she was critical of Parker Brothers, and identified the similarities between Monopoly and The Landlord’s Game. Parker Brothers agreed to publish two more of her games, but continued to give Darrow the credit for inventing the game itself. Many years later, Ralp Anspach stumbled upon Lizzie’s patents while fighting his own legal battle with Parker Brothers over Anspach’s Anti-Monopoly game, which resulted in increase appreciate for Lizzie’s contribution to the game.

Wikipedia reports that Lizzie believed that women were as capable as men in inventing, business, and other professional areas. She was correct then, and for that, worthy of remembrance now.