As I’m sure you were carefully anticipating, on Tuesday, April 7th, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued patent 9,000,000. As you of course are already aware, over the past few decades, the USPTO has been rapidly ramping up the number of patents it approves. That’s why, even though patents only have a lifetime of 20 years from the date of application, 1/3 of all issued patents are still in force today. Think about that.
So, if you’re wondering if patent 9,000,000 is a bad, trollish patent, you’ll be happy to note that it’s not a software or business method patent, but rather a kind of windshield washer system. Not only that, but there’s a real company behind it that appears to be making a real product. Well, phew. The USPTO must be happy about that… Or, actually, the USPTO probably went through all the damn patents scheduled to issue on Tuesday to find one that wasn’t controversial and magically named it number 9,000,000, though in any other week it would have been in a different batch. As patent blog 1201 Tuesday notes:
Because patents issue at discrete, weekly intervals, the PTO has time generally to group patents of the same “class” together in contiguous blocks of numbers. That’s why you usually don’t see a floor wax patent immediately next to a dessert topping patent. (Unless, of course, it’s for both.)
Patent 9,000,000 today is in class 210, “Liquid purification or separation”. Yet, it interrupts a block of patents from class 514, “Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions”:
One of these patents is not like all those others… and it just so happens to be patent 9,000,000. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there were a bunch of other patents from class 210 “Liquid purification or separation” issued on Tuesday as well — it’s just that they’re patents 8,999,153 to 8,999,176, all in a row. So it looks like the USPTO found that one nice, non-controversial patent and plucked it out of the 8,99,160ish range and plopped it directly in the middle of all of those “drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions” and declared it, magically, 9 million, knowing that it might get a bit of attention.