Cassandra L. Wilkinson
USPTO Issues U.S. Patent No. 10,000,000
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently reached a monumental milestone, issuing U.S. Patent No. 10,000,000 on June 19th, 2018. The issuance by the USPTO of this particular patent, more than any that has come before it, signifies much more than the sum of the claims found within the patent document. This 10 millionth patent represents the exponential growth within the US patent system and the relentless innovation that has spurred this nation’s development.
U.S. Patent No. 1 was granted to Senator John Ruggles of Maine in 1836 for a wheel traction system for steam locomotives. Now, 182 years later, U.S Patent No. 10,000,000, titled “Coherent LADAR Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection,” invented by Joseph Marron and Owned by Raytheon Company, is directed to “frequency-modulated laser detection and ranging.”
The differences in complexity of the developed inventions are apparent, but the development of No. 10,000,000 could not have been possible without each patent that has preceded it. Below is a small taste of the patents that have led to the celebrated No. 10,000,000:
U.S. Patent No. 1,000,000: Issued on August 8, 1911, Francis H. Holton’s invention was aimed at improving vehicle tires to make them stronger and more durable.
U.S. Patent No. 2,000,000: This patent was issued to Joseph Ledwinka for the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company on April 30, 1935. The invention, like No. 1,000,000, was also related to tires but focused on a pneumatic rubber railroad tire, which could be used on rail cars to facilitate safer braking.
U.S. Patent No. 3,000,000: Kenneth Eldredge’s patent for an “Automatic Reading System” represented a transition in U.S. patents. Issued on September 12, 1961, this invention allowed for the conversion of human language into machine language, vastly improving the efficiency of automatic data-processing machines.
U.S. Patent No. 4,000,000: Issued on December 28, 1976 to Robert Mendenhall, No. 4,000,000 described a process for combining chemicals and used roadway surfaces to recycle asphalt-aggregate compositions.
U.S. Patent No. 5,000,000: On March 19, 1991, the USPTO issued a patent with roots in biochemistry to Lonnie O. Ingram, Tyrrell Conway, and Flavio Alterthum. Patent No. 5,000,000 created a means of using E. coli bacteria to produce ethanol.
U.S. Patent No. 6,000,000: Jeffrey C. Hawkins and Michael Albanese were issued a patent on December 7, 1999 for their invention, which created a simple method of synchronizing files between computers with the touch of a single button.
U.S. Patent No. 7,000,000: John P. O’Brien was issued a patent on February 14, 2006 for his invention pertaining to strong, biodegradable polysaccharide fibers to be used in low-cost textile production.
U.S. Patent No. 8,000,000: Robert J. Greenberg, Kelly H. McClure, and Arup Roy together invented an apparatus for visual prosthesis, allowing for neural stimulation in the creation of artificial vision for individuals under certain circumstances who have lost their vision. The patent was issued on August 16, 2011 to Second Sight Medical Products, Inc.
U.S. Patent No. 9,000,000: Issued on April 7, 2015, Matthew Carroll’s patent for a “Windshield Washer Conditioner” described a system and method of collecting rainwater and other moisture from a car windshield and recycling that water to then clean the windshield.
With No. 10,000,000 issued only three years after No. 9,000,000, the 11 millionth patent is surely soon to follow. A quick look at the trend in issued patents to date makes it clear that innovation in the U.S. patent system is growing at a more rapid rate than ever before. Though it is unclear when the USPTO will issue the next milestone patent, one thing is certain: this is an exciting time for technology and innovation, and I, for one, am eager to see what the next ten million patents will bring.