Surprising Stuff about Patents and Trademarks

By Sharyl O. RSS Tue, April 7, 2015

Did you know that Eddie Van Halen, Michael Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln were issued patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office? 

Eddie Van Halen (US4656917) patented a guitar support mechanism that would leave both his hands completely free for playing. Michael Jackson (US4656917) patented a shoe device that allowed him to appear to defy gravity by leaning beyond his center of gravity. Abraham Lincoln (US6469) patented a device to help ships navigate shallow waters without offloading their cargo. These three patents are some of the more than 8 million patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) since 1790.

In addition to patents, the USPTO issues trademarks for symbols such as the McDonald’s “golden arches” and the Nike “swoosh.” A registered trademark will display the ® symbol. Did you know that sounds such as NBC's three note chime and MGM's roaring lion sound can also be trademarked?

I learned this surprising stuff (and more) at a recent training seminar at the USPTO in Alexandria, VA in March. I attended because the Free Library of Philadelphia is one of three Patent and Trademark Resource Centers in the state of Pennsylvania, and one of 84 in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Patent and Trademark Resource Center is located in the Business, Science, and Industry Department of the Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street. We have a dedicated computer for patent and trademark searching, resource material on patents and trademarks, and training in patent and trademark searching. Come visit us!

To learn more, go to

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