The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will issue the 10 millionth U.S. utility patent during the summer of 2018. This is a tremendous milestone for both the USPTO and the history of American innovation. View the online exhibit.
A patent for an invention grants the inventor “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. Each patent represents trial and error, determination, and the persistence that one inventor or a team of inventors have invested into bringing an idea to fruition. Ten million patents worth of innovation represents trillions of dollars added to the global economy:
- The first U.S. patent was issued on July 31, 1790, to Samuel Hopkins for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer. President George Washington signed the first patent.
- Patent no. 1: The U.S. government had issued 9,957 patents before starting a numbering system on July 13, 1836. On that occasion, U.S. patent no. 1 was issued to John Ruggles for a traction wheel for steam locomotives.
- Patent no. 1 million was issued on August 8, 1911, to Francis H. Holton, for a tubeless vehicle tire.
- Patent no. 2 million was issued on April 30, 1935, to Joseph Ledwinka for a vehicle wheel to increase the safety and longevity of pneumatic tires.
- Patent no. 3 million was issued September 12, 1961, to Kenneth Eldredge for an automated system that translated letters, numbers and symbols to data processing code.
- Patent no. 4 million was issued on December 28, 1976, to Robert Mendenhall for a process for recycling asphalt aggregate compositions.
- Patent no. 5 million was issued on March 19, 1991, to the University of Florida. Lonnie O. Ingram and others invented an innovative way to produce fuel ethanol.
- Patent no. 6 million was issued on December 7, 1999, to 3Com Corporation’s Palm Computing. Jeffery Hawkins and others invented an extendible method and apparatus for synchronizing multiple files on two different computer systems.
- Patent no. 7 million was issued on February 14, 2006, to E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.
John O’Brien invented a process for producing polysaccharide fibers.
- Patent no. 8 million was issued on August 16, 2011, to Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. Robert Greenburg and others invented a visual prosthesis apparatus.
- Patent no. 9 million was issued on April 7, 2015, to WiperFill Holdings LLC. Matthew Carroll invented a system of collecting rainwater to replenish a windshield wiper reservoir and windshield washer conditioner.
Have patent questions? Visit the Wyoming State Library’s Patent and Trademark Resource Center to learn more.