Abraham Lincoln: Patent Attorney

Happy President’s Day, everyone! Washington and Lincoln were both born in February, so I guess that’s reason enough for a holiday. But did you know that Abraham Lincoln, The Great Emancipator, county wrestling champion, and lover of theater, was an inventor and patent attorney?

Lincoln c. 1857.
He’s got the hair for it.

Lincoln was an occasional patent litigator. That is, he fought patent infringement cases in court, apparently with some success. AND he filed for one himself! That was a patent for “buoying vessels over shoals”: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6469A

USP 6,469, FIG. 2

It’s a little tough to see what’s going on, but those blocky shapes at the side of the boat are inflatable structures. When you run your boat aground, you can inflate the chambers. That makes the boat more buoyant, causing it to raise up in the water, so that you can get it free.

This is the oldest patent I’ve had occasion to look at in any detail. Whereas this one is number 6,469, new patents are now issued with numbers over 11,000,000. Also worth noting is that the patent was issued about two months after it was filed. Now, the average time it takes is about two years, with some outliers taking over a decade to go from filing to issuance!

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