At this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas, the USPTO will announce the issuance of the 10 millionth patent. To commemorate the event, USPTO will be unveiling a new design for the cover of granted patents.

In 1790, when the first patent was granted, an issued patent consisted of a document written on a piece of parchment signed by the President, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General. Now patents are signed by the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and come bound with an attractive soft cover that includes the USPTO’s seal. The USPTO seal contains a federal eagle astride a shield clutching an olive branch and arrow, it is imprinted in a gold medallion. There are two red ribbons that drop down from the medallion.

This will mark the second time in over 100 years that the USPTO has changed the cover of a granted patent. Since the first patent was issued there have only been 12 cover design changes. The current cover’s design has been in use for over 30 years. According to the USPTO’s website they will “unveil the new cover design at this special South by Southwest (SXSW) event and discuss the significance and history of the document.”

It will be interesting to see what the USPTO has chosen for the new design. To keep people on their toes, they have teased the release of the new image in the below clip.

It has been over 225 years since the first patent was issued. Samuel Hopkins was granted the first patent in the United States on July 31, 1790, for “The Making of Potash and Pearl Ashes” U.S. Patent No. X1. The patent was signed by President Washington, Attorney General Randolph and Secretary of State Jefferson. The original document is in the collections of the Chicago Historical Society.

The 1 millionth patent (U.S. Patent No. 1,000,000) was granted on August 8, 1911, to Francis H. Holton of Akron, Ohio for a “Vehicle Tire”.  This tire was designed to be more resilient to “injury by puncture and very much more durable in service as well as being considerably less expensive in original cost.”

The USPTO stated they are currently unsure of when the 10 millionth patent will issue and what it will protect. They did, however, state on SXSW’s website that “[g]iving inventors exclusive rights to their ideas was defined in the U.S. Constitution, and the 10 millionth represents a significant milestone documenting the United States’ global achievements in innovation and the economic powerhouse that can be built with over 200 years of intellectual property protection.” 

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak to one of our attorneys please contact us.