This Month in IP: March 2024

Strong, consistent IP protections throughout U.S. history enabled the creation of the innovative and useful technologies that we use regularly today. From clothing to transportation, every aspect of our lives has benefited greatly from IP, as shown by these historical examples from the month of March:

  • 1917: On March 20, Gideon Sundback received a patent for a “separable fastener” — known since 1923 as the zipper — which is ubiquitous in today’s clothing and bags. The high demand for this device means that miles’ worth of zippers are manufactured each day. In 2022, the global market for zippers was estimated at roughly $14 billion and is expected to exceed $27 billion by 2032.
  • 1897: On March 30, brothers August and Louis Lumiere received a patent for the Cinematographe, a revolutionary motion picture camera that was the first of its kind to be able to project images. It formed the basis for the modern cinema industry, which is valued at roughly $95 billion In the United States, the industry spans nearly 40,000 screens and employs 155,000 people in movie theaters across the country. In 2023, U.S. box office sales alone topped $9 billion.
  • 1844: On March 9, Charles Goodyear received a patent for a process for producing vulcanized rubber. This innovative material is best known today as the key ingredient in automobile tires, of which more than 2 billion are produced annually. However, it is also used in many other products; in total, the global market for rubber is worth over $40 billion and produces nearly 30 million metric tons of the material annually.
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