News From Our Blog

If you’ve been enjoying our series this week highlighting American inventions, make sure to check out our friends over at the National Archives.

They’ve shared some really cool historic, curious and whimsical patents, including the designs from the Wright brothers’ flying machine and drawings for a “life-preserving coffin.”

Do you have what it takes to invent the next “big thing”? Learn how to apply for a patent.

Celebrating American Inventions: Beyond Morse Code

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The 4th of July celebrates the birthday of our country, and allows us to take time to reflect on life, liberty and all the other great freedoms we have living here.  As part of that celebration, this week we’re highlighting some prominent inventions that have impacted all of our lives since the founding of our country.

We’ll highlight one invention from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We can’t cover every invention, so feel free to share other great inventions in the comments, and check back throughout the week to share how you’ve been impacted by the inventions we’ve selected.

The Telephone

“Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.”

These famed words, the first communicated clearly over telephone, are historic in the world of American inventions. Spoken by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant on March 10, 1876, they marked the beginning of a new era - the era of the telephone.

It’s hard to imagine a world without telephones now, but prior to 1876, the world communicated without them, often with a telegraph and Morse code. While Alexander Graham Bell was attempting to improve the telegraph, he came up with the idea of a telephone and the ability to “talk with electricity.”

The first sound transmitted over a telephone, the twanging of a clock spring, occurred June 2, 1875, and provided more motivation for Bell to continue improving his invention. He filed for a patent on February 14, 1876 and received United States Patent No. 174,465 on March 7 of the same year.

The patent filing came with some controversy surrounding it, as Elisha Gray, another inventor, filed for a caveat hours later on the day! A famous legal battle later ensued between Western Union (Gray’s telephone company) and Bell Telephone, which Bell won.

To see a full collection of Bell’s letters and drawings - including his experimental notebook - you can visit the “Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers”  from the Library of Congress.

Whether you’re watching fireworks or barbecuing with friends, make sure your own 4th of July celebration is safe and fun with these tips. And check the #july4 and #madeintheusa hashtags on Twitter to read about more American inventions this week.

Read this post in Spanish.

Celebrating American Inventions: The Deep Dive

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The 4th of July celebrates the birthday of our country, and allows us to take time to reflect on life, liberty and all the other great freedoms we have living here.  As part of that celebration, this week we’re highlighting some prominent inventions that have impacted all of our lives since the founding of our country.

We’ll highlight one invention from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We can’t cover every invention, so feel free to share other great inventions in the comments, and check back throughout the week to share how you’ve been impacted by the inventions we’ve selected.

The Submarine

Today, scientists use high-tech submarines to dive deep into the ocean and research underwater life. Tourists can take a submarine dive and visit underwater coral reefs. The military uses submarines to stealthily target the enemy with little to no detection.

But did you know all of this began with a wooden submarine named “Turtle,” first used in military action during the Revolutionary War?

David Bushnell, along with his brother Ezra, created the world’s first military submarine in Connecticut and launched it for the first time in 1776. The submarine they created featured ideas still used today, including the use of water as ballast for the craft, and the screw propeller.

Describing the Turtle, George Washington wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1785, “I then thought, and still think, that it was an effort of genius,” according to the Navy Department Library.

According to the Navy, during the actual Revolutionary War battle, Turtle didn’t fare as well as Bushnell hoped. Despite successful test runs (one of which Benjamin Franklin attended, according to reports!), Turtle’s attack did not succeed. Despite this hurdle, Turtle provided an invaluable ‘first draft’ of what would later develop into today’s submarine.

To hear from veterans of more recent wars about their experiences on a submarine, check out the Library of Congress’ video project, “The Silent Service.” Meet some of the Navy’s current submarine force, in this video from Inside Today’s Military.

Whether you’re watching fireworks or barbecuing with friends, make sure your own 4th of July celebration is safe and fun with these tips. And check the #july4 and #madeintheusa hashtags on Twitter to read about more American inventions this week.

Read this post in Spanish.

Asked by Anonymous

Where can I register my product design to be protected

There are three different tools available to protect intellectual property: patents, trademarks, and copyrights. 

Patents

A patent protects an invention or discovery. There are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Learn more about patents and the patent process.

Trademarks

A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services, such as words, phrases, symbols, or designs. Learn more about trademarks and how to apply for one.

Copyright

A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, or architecture. You do not have to register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office in order for it to be protected. Copyright exists the moment a work is created. Note that ideas and discoveries are not protected by copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. Find out how copyright is different than a trademark or patent.

As an example, if you invent a new kind of vacuum cleaner, you would apply for a patent to protect the invention itself. You would apply to register a trademark to protect the brand name of the vacuum cleaner. And you might register a copyright for the TV commercial that you use to market the product.