Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

Thomas Edison’s Predictions for the Year 2011.

Posted in Science and Technology by Jake Ward on January 28, 2011

JW  Note:  Hat tip to the folks at the Paleofuture blog, where we first read this story.  Originally published on June 23, 1911 by the Miami Metropolis Newspaper.

What will the world be a hundred years hence?

None but a wizard dare raise the curtain and disclose the secrets of the future; and what wizard can do it with so sure a hand as Mr. Thomas Alva Edison, who has wrested so many secrets from jealous Nature? He alone of all men who live has the necessary courage and gift of foresight, and he has not shrunk from the venture.

Already, Mr. Edison tells us, the steam engine is emitting its last gasps. A century hence it will be as remote as antiquity as the lumbering coach of Tudor days, which took a week to travel from Yorkshire to London. In the year 2011 such railway trains as survive will be driven at incredible speed by electricity (which will also be the motive force of all the world’s machinery), generated by “hydraulic” wheels.

But the traveler of the future, says a writer in Answers, will largely scorn such earth crawling. He will fly through the air, swifter than any swallow, at a speed of two hundred miles an hour, in colossal machines, which will enable him to breakfast in London, transact business in Paris and eat his luncheon in Cheapside.

The house of the next century will be furnished from basement to attic with steel, at a sixth of the present cost — of steel so light that it will be as easy to move a sideboard as it is today to lift a drawing room chair. The baby of the twenty-first century will be rocked in a steel cradle; his father will sit in a steel chair at a steel dining table, and his mother’s boudoir will be sumptuously equipped with steel furnishings, converted by cunning varnishes to the semblance of rosewood, or mahogany, or any other wood her ladyship fancies.

Books of the coming century will all be printed leaves of nickel, so light to hold that the reader can enjoy a small library in a single volume. A book two inches thick will contain forty thousand pages, the equivalent of a hundred volumes; six inches in aggregate thickness, it would suffice for all the contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica. And each volume would weigh less than a pound.

Already Mr. Edison can produce a pound weight of these nickel leaves, more flexible than paper and ten times as durable, at a cost of five shillings. In a hundred years’ time the cost will probably be reduced to a tenth.

More amazing still, this American wizard sounds the death knell of gold as a precious metal. “Gold,” he says, “has even now but a few years to live. The day is near when bars of it will be as common and as cheap as bars of iron or blocks of steel.

“We are already on the verge of discovering the secret of transmuting metals, which are all substantially the same in matter, though combined in different proportions.”

Before long it will be an easy matter to convert a truck load of iron bars into as many bars of virgin gold.

In the magical days to come there is no reason why our great liners should not be of solid gold from stem to stern; why we should not ride in golden taxicabs, or substituted gold for steel in our drawing room suites. Only steel will be the more durable, and thus the cheaper in the long run.

USPTO Backlog and President Obama’s Call For Innovation.

Posted in Practice Commentary by Jake Ward on January 28, 2011

This recent article by Paula Reid, CBS Evening News Online Contributor, highlights the backlog in patent applications at the USPTO relative to the recent State of the Union speech.

In his State of the Union, President Obama challenged America’s scientists and engineers to “out-innovate” global competition.

But America’s ability to drive economic growth and job creation through innovation is currently hampered by an enormous backlog at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Patent and Trademark Office grants patents and registers trademarks needed to secure investment capital, build companies, and bring new products and services to the marketplace. But according to data from the Patent Office, there is currently a backlog of 1.2 million [patent applications], over 700,000 which have never even been opened.

The article correctly observes that merely “out-innovating” is not enough for the U.S. to be globally competitive.   The availability of rapid and strong intellectual property protection of new inventions and innovations is also critical to competitiveness. 

Worth a read, if you have a few minutes to spare.  Check it out!

Alcohol, the Mother of Invention?

Posted in Science and Technology by Jake Ward on January 21, 2011

Per this recent report from MSNBC, a Washington inventor named Josh Springer has invented a machine and cup system that allows one to fill a beer cup upside down.   The invention includes a thin magnet that covers a hole at the base of the beer cup. When placed on the dispenser, the magnet is raised and the beer flows into the cup through the hole. The magnet is attracted to a metal rim at the cup’s base and, when the cup has been filled, seals the hole at the base of the cup.  A Youtube video of the system in operation can be seen below.

The system allows one to impressively fill up to at least 56 beer cups per minute, as shown in the a clip at the inventor’s website here.

More information on the inventor and his company, Grinon Industries, including further videos of the invention in operation, can be found here.

They Invented What? (No. 193)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on January 19, 2011

U.S. Pat. Appl. Pub. No. 2009/0093777:  Aswipe.

 JW Note:  Many thanks to Jeff V. for bringing this application to our attention.  Here, the title truly is “as short and specific as possible”, as required by 37 CFR 1.72 .

What is claimed is:

1. I Robert l. Vilar, claim all rights of ownership: to the Aswipe product that I invented and want to develop and produce. It is a petrolum jelly substance placed on a diposable tissue-like pad that is folded to size (3″ by 2⅞″) and placed into a small vacuum sealed package, that can be kept in a bathroom or easily carried about in a pocket to be opened and used as a gentle lubricant on private rectal and vaginal parts to aid in chapping or soreness in these areas after using the toilet paper and enabling the consumer to apply the jelly-like subsance without getting it all over his/her hands.

This claim is limited to its use as a lubricant. It is not antibacterial or medicated.

They Invented What? (No. 192)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on January 11, 2011

U.S. Pat. No. 1,749,090: Apparatus for obtaining criminal confessions and photographically recording them.

Having thus described my method of obtaining confessions from those criminally suspected and photographically recording these confessions, together with other pertinent matter connected therewith, for later reproduction as evidence, I claim, and desire to secure by Letters Patent:

1. A device of the character described, comprising a chamber divided into compartments having partitioning means therebetween, an “apparition” disposed in one of said compartments and supported by said partitioning means, said “apparition” comprising a skeleton, a transparent envelop therefor constituting its body, means comprising an electrical circuit and a plurality of electric bulbs for suitably lighting said body to produce ghastly effects, electric bulbs in the sockets of the cranium of said skeleton, the said bulbs having exteriorly the appearance of eyeballs when illuminated, a camera within said cranium adapted to photographically and simultaneously record both, scenes and words, and an electric circuit for suitably lighting the bulbs of the cranium, said circuits being controlled by switches carried by a switch-board located in the rear of said partitioning means.

Donald R. Fraser, 1927-2010.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on January 2, 2011


It is with a sense of deep sadness that we must report that our partner, mentor, colleague and friend, Donald R. Fraser, passed away on December 28, 2010 in Ft. Myers, Florida after a brief illness. He was 83 years old.

Don Fraser had a distinguished career as a patent attorney that spanned more than 50 years. He was committed to the profession, his clients, the firm and its people, his colleagues, and to his many friends, and was very active in professional, civic, and charitable matters.

He is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Caroline, his son and two grandchildren. His was truly a life well lived and he will be greatly missed.

The obituary published in the Toledo Blade for Don Fraser may be found here.  An article published in the Toledo Blade about his life and career may be found here.