My Origin Story

Quite a few years ago now, I came across an antique router (the pictured woodworking tool, before ones with power cords were invented) with a patent date on it. I knew that my friend Ralph was into patent searching so how hard could it be? I tried to make sense of the US patent office’s categories in an attempt to find this patent. I gave up and in the end, I decided that the shotgun approach (can I trademark this?) would be best. I’d view all 1035 patents issued on the day in question. Thanks to a new feature (Jan 17, 2003) on the uspto site, I was able to generate urls to directly view the images I wanted.

After a while of shotgun(tm?) searching, I gave up on the notion of having a single favorite patent for this day. My favorite changed with nearly every image I retrieved. I was blown away by the diversity and peculiarity of the day. Seven different shoe related patents? Patented undergarments and hosiery? Two lawn mover patents? A book mark? A tonsil snare? Ouch. Perhaps even more painful, a patented scalp syringe. A patent assigned to Kodak (my first post-college employer) for film. Wicket and stake for indoor croquet? It might be easier to list what wasn’t patented on this day. Three tobacco pipes and a cap for one? A Fountain pen? A neck tie? Seven game related patents? A Christmas tree holder? Honest, I’m not making this up, I’m not this creative. Four telegraph related patents? Three automobile turn signals? One of which involves a fake arm and hand dropping down to signal a turn. Ok, maybe this is my favorite of them all. A patented pitchfork attachment? Who knew there were pitchfork attachments, let alone patented ones? Where can I get one? What a day! A foldable golf club (golf stick)? A vehicle that looks like a city bus? Given the 46 pages you’d probably be able to build one for yourself without any infringement worries. A garment hanger? A stopping mechanism for roving and the like machines? We are fortunate to live in a time free from runaway rooving machines- thanks to Mr Adonias D. Bolduc, of New Bedford, Mass.’s patent. My hard drive runneth over with these images. Was every patent Tuesday like this? Fifty-four apparatuses (apparati)? It seems like including the word apparatus in the title was a surefire way to get your idea patented. I almost didn’t want to find the router patent- this was that interesting. For most of the patents, I viewed only the first image page. I was compelled to view more pages on some patents. How could I not read the description of crab wrapper and wrapping method?

Oh, I almost forgot, the patent I was looking for turned out to be for the thumb screw, not the router. I found it after viewing all but 164 of that day’s patents. See 1,541,518 or shotgun June 9, 1925 or shotgun another issue date (shameless plugs for Since finding the router and its patent, I’ve become hooked on creating tools to find patents, exploring patent apis and consuming bulk data. Had I known that the patent was for the thumb screw I may have had success navigating the patent office’s classification system and none of what followed would have happened.

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