U.S. Patent Number 10 MillionJune 26, 2018

Last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reached a new milestone, with issuance of patent number 10 million. This patent is entitled Coherent LADAR Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection, and relates to a laser detection system for various industries, such as medical imaging and autonomous vehicles. The patent is owned by Raytheon Company, of Waltham, Massachusetts. An unusual aspect of this patent is that it is signed by President Donald Trump. The last time a U.S. patent was signed by a President was for the bicentennial in 1976, by President Gerald Ford.

Approximately 10,000 patents were issued before the Patent Office began numbering patents. The first U.S. patent was issued in 1790, for a method of making potash, which is an ingredient in fertilizer. U.S. patent number one was issued in 1836 for train wheels. It then took 75 years before patent number one million was issued in 1911 for solid (not air-filled) tires. Fast forward 58 years later, and patent number two million was issued in 1935 for another tire invention.

It was not until 26 years later before patent number three million was issued in 1961 for a machine that could read human language. Later on, patent number four million was issued for a method of recycling asphalt in 1976. Patent number five million was issued a little more than 14 years later, in 1991, for a method of producing ethanol.

With increased patent applications being filed, patent number six million was issued just eight years later, in 1999, for a method of transferring data between computers. Then in 2006, patent number seven million was issued for a cotton-like textile fabric. In just five more short years, patent number either million was issued for a vision aid device, in 2011. In 2015, patent number nine million was granted on rainwater windshield wiper fluid.

Now, in only three years and two months, the first eight-digit patent has been issued. It appears likely that the speed of patent grants will continue to increase, so that we will see patent number 11 million by at least 2021.

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