Chair Moments

I’ve mentioned my friend Ralph (seated in the photo) in a previous post or two. More than a few years ago, the two of us did a patent searching presentation for the antique tool collectors club that we both belonged to (Midwest Tool Collectors Association, It was an hour long presentation during a three day conference and there were approximately 200 people in attendance. There was nothing else against it on the agenda so not all of the people were there by choice. In other words, not everyone was excited about learning how to search for patents. (The typical use case is finding the patent for an antique tool marked with a patent date.) It was right after lunch and I should mention that the average club member’s age is probably mid sixties.

Quick sidebar on Ralph: he was so into collecting antique marking gages (specialized woodworking hand tool used when parts need to interconnect or be of the same length or width) that he lead the creation of a web site so he could share the patent data he had accumulated. He also invited other collectors to share their patent data for whatever tool they collected or researched. The site was launched in 2002, before google patent was a thing, and it currently has data for more than 68,000 patents. (Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents,

As the presentation began, Ralph and I were introduced and we walked up to the lectern in a thundering silence. I did a brief introduction, then Ralph spoke and then I did the conclusion before opening up for questions. It was while Ralph was speaking that someone fell out of his chair and into the isle! It remains a mystery which speaker put him into a post-lunch stupor but, to be clear, it was on Ralph’s watch that the event in question occurred! Since then I use the term “Chair Moment” when referring to something IP related that I found interesting or amusing. As in I was so amused or excited by the discovery that I metaphorically fell out of my chair, to ironically twist what actually happened while my friend Ralph was presenting.

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