Inventive Designers with U.S. Patents

According to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office in 2012 alone, there were 542,815 applications for patents with 276,788 patents granted. Since 1790, there have been 7 million patents issued total, when Samuel Hopkins was awarded the first patent for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer. That patent was signed by President George Washington. While it has been somewhat widely known that 1930s Hollywood siren Hedy Lamarr held the patent on a “Secret Communication System” that eventually led to our present day WiFi, did you know that youngest Marx Brother Zeppo held Patent #3,473,526 for a Cardiac pulse rate monitor?

It should come as no surprise then that there are many graphic designers with U.S. patents, since the field by its very nature is cross disciplinary. What is surprising is the number that do, and in some cases, the volume of patents they hold. Certainly one would expect Raymond Loewy, at once both a graphic and industrial designer, to hold myriad, but consider that Milton Glaser holds over a half dozen, likewise Massimo and Lelia Vignelli. And who knew that one could patent a typeface? Apparently Lucian Bernhard and Paula Scher did.

Also of interest are patents held by familiar names in closely related fields, such as Bauhaus founder and architect Walter Gropius and former Pentagram partner architect James Biber among them.

Unfortunately, if one is looking for aesthetically pleasing drawings by these designers, you might be disappointed, as the renderings are clearly in service of the dictates of the form, although not without a certain charm. Still, it is both edifying and fun to newly discover creations from those we admire. Here is a sampling in alphabetical order:

  1. Saul Bass
    a. BOTTLE (Patent # 212,211, Patented Sept. 17, 1968)
    USD212211
    b. SERVICE STATION (Patent  # 300,662, Date of Patent: Apr. 11, 1989)USD300662_Page_1 USD300662_Page_2
  2. Lester Beall
    ROCKING CHAIR (Patent # 250,620, Dec. 26, 1978)
    USD250620_Page_1
  3. Lucian Bernhard
    FONT OF NUMERALS (Patent Number: # 144,536, , Filed April 26, 1945)USD144536_Page_1
  4. James Biber
     SQUARE BOWL (Patent # 424,879,  Date of Patent: May 16, 2000)
    USD424879_Page_1
  5. Alexi Brodovitch
    a. PERFUME BOTTLE (Patent # 124,598, Filed Nov. 5, 1940)
    USD124598_Page_1
    b. CHAIR (Patent # 133, 847, Filed June 24, 1942)
    USD133847_Page_1
  6. Ivan Chermayeff
    PRESSURIZED CAN (Patent # 195,701, Patented July 16, 1963)
    USD195701
  7. William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand
    METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR COMPUTER SCREEN LAYOUT BASED ON RECOMBINANT GEOMETRIC MODULAR STRUCTURE (Patent # US 7,124,360, , Date of Patent: Oct. 17, 2006)
    US7124360_Page_10
  8. Milton Glaser
    BOTTLE (Patent # 275,455, Date of Patent: Sep. 11, 1984)
    USD275455_Page_1
  9. Walter Gropius
    TEA POT (Patent # 219,165, Patented Nov. 10, 1970)
    USD219165
  10. Raymond Loewy
    AUTOMOBILE (Patent # 185,375, Patented June 2, 1959)
    USD185375_Page_1 USD185375_Page_2
  11. Stefan Sagmeister and Hjalti Karlsson
    SMOKING ARTICLE CONTAINER (Patent # 499,019 , Date of Patent: Nov. 30, 2004)
    USD499019_Page_1
  12. Paula Scher and Ronald Henry Tse
    TYPE FONT (Patent # 667,061,  Date of Patent: Sep. 11, 2012)
    USD667061_Page_1
  13. Massimo and Lelia Vignelli
    a. PACKAGE 0F BOTTLES (Patent # 215,648, Patented Oct. 21, 1969)
    USD215648_Page_1
    b. CHAIR (Patent # 300,484, Date of Patent: Apr. 4, 1989)
    USD300484_Page_1 USD300484_Page_3
  14. Craig Yoe, et al
    a. USER RECONFIGURABLE NOVELTY GLASSES (Patent # 4,798,455, Date of Patent: Jan. 17, 1989)
    US4798455_Page_1 US4798455_Page_2
    b. ROTATING BALL COLLECTING GAME, (Patent # 4,961,580, Date of Patent: Oct. 9, 1990)
    US4961580_Page_1 US4961580_Page_2

 

Want to get started in web design but have no idea where to start? Check out the Getting Started in Web Design Ultimate Collection from My Design Shop. Who knows, maybe your next design will be worthy of a patent, too.

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