The Real 8,000,000th

Patent DrawingEarlier this week the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted  patent number 8,000,000 to Second Sight Medical Products Inc. for a device that helps people with degenerative vision problems to see better.  It’s certainly a far cry from patent number one granted after the Patent Act of 1837 for enhancements to locomotives wheels.

Now I don’t want to crash anyone’s party, namely the USPTO’s party at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Sept. 8, 2011 recognizing granting patent number 8,000,000, but patent number 8,000,000 is not actually the 8,000,000th patent granted. It is worth noting that patent number one is not the first US patent issued.  Rather there were around 9,900 patents issued prior to patent number one. These patents were originally unnumbered; however, the USPTO has since gone back and numbered the surviving early patents, prefacing the number with an “X”. Today these patents are commonly known as the X-Patents. That being said I am unaware of these patents having any special mutant abilities, save an immunity to fire. Unfortunately less than 2,000 of the early patents survived the patent office fire of 1836.

So the US actually issued its 8,000,000th patent about 9,900 patents ago and with an eye to being  more precise and giving credit where credit is due, I propose here that we instead recognize Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.’s patent for a Battery control device for hybrid forklift truck —US PAT 7,990,100– as the closest thing we will ever come to a 8,000,000th US patent.

So please join in the USPTO celebration on September 8th but also have a drink in the name of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd 8,000,000th US patent and X-Patents.

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