This Month in IP: October 2023

Innovation requires IP. Without a strong patent system in place, innovation does not happen at scale. Virtually every invention of impact is patented, as exemplified by these historical examples from the month of October:

  • 1950: On October 3, William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain received a patent for the first transistor, an essential electronic component considered by some to be among history’s most impactful inventions. In 2018, an estimated 13 sextillion transistors had already been shipped, with the rate of production increasing exponentially each year. In 2022, the global market for semiconductor devices — consisting mostly of transistors — was valued at over $590 billion.
  • 1877: On October 23, Nicolaus Otto, Francis Crossley, and William Crossley received a patent for a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. With greater power and efficiency than the steam engine, the internal combustion engine quickly became a staple in many machines, including automobiles. Today, the market for internal combustion engines is estimated at more than $226 billion, and in 2021 there was estimated to be demand for nearly 170 million such engines.
  • 1888: On October 30, John Loud received a patent for the first-ever ballpoint pen. In 2020, an average of more than 125 ballpoint pens were sold each second, amounting to over 3.9 billion per year. The global market for ballpoint pens is estimated to reach $8.6 billion by 2026.
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