No one would argue that the process of getting an idea or design patented is easy, but few would argue with the fact that it's far easier to draw something than it is to make it.
We just came across this interesting historical tidbit: Before there were patent drawings, there were patent objects.
"Up until 1880, if you had a brilliant idea, something that you thought would change the world, and you wanted to get patent protection for it, you had to submit a working scale model to the government," said Stephen Nowlin, vice president of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Nowlin is hosting an exhibit at Art Center's Williamson Gallery called "The Curious World of Patent Models," a traveling show organized by the Rothschild Patent Model Museum, which will reveal more than 50 artifacts submitted for patents way back in the day.
Those are designs for improved versions of a paper-cutting machine, an electromagnetic motor, a fruit basket, a roller skate, a lifeboat, and what's either part of C-3PO or an artificial leg.
All of them were designed in the 1800s. I cannot imagine what it was like to source parts back then, before the internet and McMaster-Carr. So if ever you get a brilliant design idea and decide to enter the paperwork hell that is patent protection, thank your lucky stars that you got to CAD your design up at your desk rather than bang it out in the barn.
"The Curious World of Patent Models" runs at the Williamson through August 15th, and will be traveling throughout America thereafter. Click here for a detailed schedule.
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