The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today issued U.S. patent number 10 million. More than just a number, patent 10 million celebrates the rich history and strength of the American intellectual property system dating back to the first U.S. patent, signed 228 years ago by George Washington on July 31, 1790, and issued to Samuel Hopkins for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer.
“Innovation has been the lifeblood of this country since its founding,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Our patent system’s importance to the daily lives of every American has never been greater. Given the rapid pace of change, we know that it will not take another 228 years to achieve the next 10-million-patent milestone.”
Patent 10 million for “Coherent Ladar Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection” symbolizes the breadth of American invention, with applications in such varied fields as autonomous vehicles, medical imaging devices, military defense systems, and space and undersea exploration. It was invented by Joseph Marron and is owned by Raytheon Company.
This milestone of human ingenuity perhaps exceeds even the Founding Fathers’ expectations when they called for a patent system in the Constitution to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” The USPTO’s online exhibit has a detailed, interactive timeline highlighting important moments, notable inventors, changing patent designs, and other interesting facts over more than two centuries of innovation in America, visit
Questions about patents? Visit the Wyoming State Library’s Patent & Trademark Resource Center.