And, yes, this does just go to demonstrate how patent and data nerds will try (successfully) to spoil any fun, no matter how innocuous.
by: Patrick Anderson, Chief Technology Officer | June 20, 2018
Yesterday, the collective IP world celebrated a milestone, as President Trump was to sign the ten millionth patent in US history into existence. Unfortunately, what’s being celebrated, U.S. Patent 10,000,000 (issued to Joseph Marron and assigned to Raytheon Corp), and being referred to, incorrectly, as the “10-millionth patent since President George Washington signed the first patent in 1791” isn’t, in fact, our ten millionth patent. And, yes, this does just go to demonstrate how patent and data nerds will try (successfully) to spoil any fun, no matter how innocuous.
The modern patent numbering system did not begin in the 1790’s. For the first forty years or so, the government didn’t even see fit to index patents by number! The first patent ever issued with a patent number was on July 13, 1836. Even more interesting, no one knows the exact number of patents issued prior to 1836 thanks to a fire at the patent office in December 1836. Although ultimately ruled out, arson was initially expected. Modern inventors, being more civilized, simply set fire to their own patents rather than the patent office.
Nevertheless, a great number of records were lost, but the number of patents issued before Patent No. 1 is estimated to be 9,957. The ones that still remain are denoted with an “X” in front of the number, earning them the nickname X-Patents. Unfortunately, the only superpower possessed by these patents is their ability to strip from Raytheon the honor of actually owning the ten millionth patent in our country’s history. Sadly, we may never actually know which patent is our ten millionth, but using the USPTO’s best estimate, that honor should go to US Patent 9,990,043 issued on June 5, 2018 to a team of inventors including Ryan Fink, Ryan Phelps, and Gary Peck and assigned to Atheer Labs of Mountain View, California, entitled Gesture Recognition Systems and Devices For Low And No Light Conditions. Insert your own joke about the “gestures” many struggling inventors have sent to Congress about the state of our patent system here.