Saturday is Groundhog Day, but despite having their own day, it seems that groundhogs have been largely ignored by inventors. Groundhogs are referenced in the claims of only four patents, and mentioned in only 106 U.S. patents (since 1976).
However there is a prominent piece of technology associated with Groundhog Day — familiar to horopalettologists (look it up):
the iconic flip clock — the Panasonic RC-6025 clock radio that restart’s Phil Conner’s day in the classic movie Groundhog Day. Split-flap flip clock displays (or leaf-type digital displays) were first patented in 1965:
While briefly popular, these displays were soon supplanted by LCD and then LED displays. However they still have a small but dedicated following, and vintage flip clocks, like the RC-6025, can sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
Patents can be an interesting window into the past. For example on December 14, 1937, U.S. Patent No. D107425 issued to Wallace K. Harrison and J. Andre Fouilhoux on a model of an architectural unit.
The design is of the Trylon, Perisphere, and Helicline that became the central symbol of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, reproduced by the millions on a wide range of promotional materials. and serving as the fairground’s focal point. The structures were razed and scrapped after the closing of the fair, and their materials repurposed into World War II armaments, but the image and the optimism for the future they were intended to convey, persist in the records of the USPTO.
So July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day. Who decides such things? Apparently no one, or perhaps more accurately anyone. However, the people of National Day Calendar are happy to endorse your declaration and put it on their calendar, if you need outside validation.
Assuming the bona fides of National Fried Chicken Day, a patent lawyer’s mind turns to Colonel Harland Sanders, who obtained two patents on his methods and apparatus for preparing fried chicken: U.S. Patent No. 3,1 56,177 on Food Preheating, Cooking and Warming Device:
and U.S. Patent No. 3245800 on Process of Producing Fried Chicken Under Pressure:
These are not just the patents of the day, but the patents of National Fried Chicken Day.
Patented technology can improve the most mundane aspects of life and on July 4 we recognize some patents that inject an element of patriotism into our daily routine. U.S. Patent No. D478,404 protects an American Patriotic Candy Cane:
U.S. Patent No. 7192168 protects a lighting display:
U.S. Patent No. D513768 protects Patriotic Themed Duct Tape:
U.S. Patent No. 8160936 protects a Patriotic American Shopping Network:
Finally, U.S. Patent No. D572517 protects a Patriotic Air Conditioner Cover:
U.S. Patent No. 10,000,000 issued June 19, 2018 on Coherent LADAR Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection.
At the current rate, we can expect utility patent number 11,000,000 in 2021.
Of course nerdy purists will point out that the 10,000,000 number does not take into account the X-patents — the 9957 (or so) patents that issued before it occurred to the Patent Office to begin numbering the patents in 1836. The nerdiest of these purists will further point out that the 10,000,000 includes numbers for which patents were withdrawn from issue, and does not include a handful of “fractional” patents issued over the years.