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Posts Tagged ‘Patents

Patently absurd…

Ladies and Gentlemen:  Context-Free Patent Art (“Art from people who aren’t artists, randomly culled from a wealth of video game-related patents.”)

[TotH to I Love Charts]

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As we marvel at the creativity of the clicking class, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953 that the U. S Patent and Trademark Office issued patent number 2,636,176 to Howard C. Rossin for an overcoat for two people (or Siamese Twins).

 source

Written by LW

April 28, 2012 at 1:01 am

I choose… me!

People in Western countries drown in choice. Want a T-shirt? Thousands of alternatives await you. Want some toothpaste? Sit down, we could be here a while. Many people see these options as a good thing – they’re a sign of our independence, our freedom, our mastery over our own destinies. But these apparent positives have a dark side.

Krishna Savani from Columbia University has found that when Americans think about the concept of choice, they’re less concerned about the public good and less empathic towards disadvantaged people. His work supports the idea that endless arrays of choice focus our attention on individual control and, by doing so, they send a message that people’s fates are their own concerns. Their lives are not the business of the state or public institutions, and if they fail, it is their own fault. With choices at hand, Americans are more likely to choose themselves.

Savani’s experiments and their results make for pretty bracing reading.  Still, he notes, not all cultures react the same way.  And as for Americans,

… Savani points out that the US is one of the world’s most charitable countries. He writes, “If Americans believe that they are choosing to help other people out of their free will, or if they can affirm their selves through making choices for other people, they may be even more charitable.” The problem lies more with “choice for choice’s sake.”

Read the whole story in Discover.

As we resolve to simplify, we might recall that it was on this date in 1718 that London lawyer, writer, and inventor, James Puckle patented  a multi-shot gun mounted on a stand capable of firing up to nine rounds per minute– the first machine gun.

Puckle’s innovation was as formative in the realm of intellectual property as it was in the martial arena:  Quoth to the Patent Office of the United Kingdom,”In the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain, the law officers of the Crown established as a condition of patent that the inventor must in writing describe the invention and the manner in which it works.” Puckle’s machine gun patent was among the first to provide such a description.

source and larger view, with transcription

Patently ridiculous…

From Donna Kossy and her Hysterical Patents, a selection of “unusual patents from the collection of a deceased patent attorney”; e.g.,

Inventor: Bernard H. Nichols, Ravenna, Ohio
Date: May 20, 1913
U.S. Patent Number: 1,062,025

Description: Hat to prevent premature baldness. The hat is “adapted to fit upon the head in such a manner as not to interfere with the free circulation of blood to the scalp, and at the same time so constructed as to be worn without discomfort, and without causing a temporary unseemly marking on the forehead or scalp of the wearer where it comes in contact therewith, when the hat is removed.”

More human ingenuity at its most unrestrained at Hysterical Patents.  (Thanks to reader SS for the lead!)

As we muse on the “intellectual” in “intellectual property,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1661 that the body of Oliver Cromwell– leader of the Roundhead “New Model Army” that defeated Royalist forces in the English Civil War, and subsequently the Lord Protector of the short-lived Commonwealth of England– was exhumed (he’d died of natural causes two years earlier) and ritually beheaded– on the anniversary of the 1649 execution and beheading of the king, Charles I, he’d overthrown.

Cromwell’s death mask (source)

Stop, Thief!…

A total of 23,748 bikes were reported stolen in London in its 2009-10 fiscal year– up 27.8 per cent from the previous year– though police believe that the true figure could be double that.  Kevin Scott, a 21 year-old designer, has an answer:  a new variety of folding bike…

Read the full story (and see more pix) at Daily Mail.  (Readers who value fine design, but have tastes that are less experimental, might check out the rides at Public Bikes.)

As we search our closets for those pedal-pushers, we might bake a dome-shaped birthday cake for inventor, educator, author, philosopher, engineer and architect R(ichard) Buckminster Fuller; he was born on this date in 1895.  “Bucky” most famously developed the geodesic dome, the only large dome that can be set directly on the ground as a complete structure, and the only practical kind of building that has no limiting dimensions (i.e., beyond which the structural strength must be insufficient); but he was sufficiently prolific to have held over 2000 patents.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum…

Barlow’s Wheel
St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland
Today we remember Peter Barlow (1776-1862) for his mathematical tables, the Barlow Lens, and Barlow’s Wheel (1822). Electric current passes through the wheel from the axle to a mercury contact on the rim. The interaction of the current with the magnetic field of a U-magnet laid flat on the baseplate causes the wheel to rotate. Note that the presence of serrations on the wheel is unnecessary.

Thomas Greenslade, a professor emeritus at Kenyon, has a passion for the devices that have been used over the years to teach the principles of physics.  Happy for us, he is willing to share: there are hundreds of fascinating exhibits like the one above at “Instruments for Natural Philosophy.”

As we sit back under our apple trees, we might recall that it was on this date in 1790 that the first U.S. patent statute was signed into law by President Washington. Although a number of inventors had been clamoring for patents and copyrights (which were, of course, anticipated in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution), the first session of the First Congress in 1789 acted on none of the petitions. On January 8, 1790, President Washington recommended in his State of the Union address that Congress give attention to the encouragement of new and useful inventions; and within the month, the House appointed a committee to draft a patent statute. Even then the process worked slowly: the first patent issued under this statute was signed by George Washington– on July 31, 1790, for Samuel Hopkins’ process to make potash and pearl ash.

It’s some measure of the power of IP to create value that, on this date in 1849, Walter Hunt of New York City was issued Patent No. 6,281– the first U.S. patent for a safety pin.  Strapped for cash, Hunt spent three hours on his invention, filed, then immediately sold the rights for the $400 that he needed.

The first U.S. patent, issued to Hopkins

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