Patent News: Hall of Fame Inventors Earn Their Place in Patent Prosecution
Innovation is something to celebrate, and the same goes for those individuals who bring innovation to life. Each year, the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame® (NIHF) recognizes a handful of inventors whose patented inventions had a significant impact on the world. Since being founded in 1973, only 603 inventors who lived in the past three centuries have been inducted. Just over 100 inductees are alive today, making NIHF inventors a rare breed and induction into the Hall of Fame quite an honor.
This year’s NIHF inductees were announced at the Consumer Technology Association® CES in Las Vegas in early January, and the honored group’s efforts were again acknowledged by the USPTO in its monthly review bulletin. Among the inductees were the minds behind inventions such as laser dermatology, a compound for extending the life of fruits and vegetables, the sports bra, an automatic surgical tourniquet, synthetic lubricants, and bend-insensitive optical fibers. However, in terms of hard-fought patent prosecution efforts, one set of inductees stands out among the rest.
|2020 National Inventor’s Hall of Fame Inductees|
|U.S. Patent Title(s)||U.S. Patent No(s).||Inductee Names|
|Permanent hair removal using optical pulses||5,595,568||R. Rox Anderson|
|Method of counteracting an ethylene response in plants||5,518,988||
Microstructured optical fibers and methods;
Low bend loss single mode optical fiber;
Low bend loss optical fiber
|Pneumatic tourniquet||4,469,099||James McEwen|
High viscosity index synthetic lubricant compositions;
Process for manufacturing olefinic oligomers having lubricating properties
|System and method for maneuvering a mobile drive unit||8,649,899||
On February 11, 2014, U.S. Patent No. 8,649,899 was granted for a “System and method for maneuvering a mobile drive unit,” which has had a profound impact on the way online orders are fulfilled in warehouse settings. The story of the underlying invention actually began much earlier. In the early 2000s, the inducted inventors—Raffaello D’Andrea, Mick Mountz and Peter Wurman—created the Kiva system, which uses thousands of autonomous robots to move racks of inventory within the warehouse setting. In 2006, a U.S. patent application was filed to protect the system, but the application remained in prosecution for nearly eight years before being granted.
So, why did this patent application remain pending for so long? Despite being assigned to a patent examiner who has historically granted 80.7% of the patent applications he’s examined, the inventors, assignees and legal team faced seven examiner office actions before filing a Request for Continued Examination (RCE), which was followed by an eighth office action before finally being granted. Through determination, perseverance and the recognized value of the underlying system, both novelty and nonobviousness rejections were finally overcome. In the end, their efforts paid off, as Amazon, a company that was able to cut down its “click-to-ship” time by nearly 75%, bought Kiva, which now exists as Amazon Robotics.
Patent prosecution data and statistics have been provided by the LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® patent prosecution platform. In a world where innovation is celebrated, PatentAdvisor™ users have access to innovative patent prosecution tools and metrics that enable smarter, more efficient patent prosecution strategies.