With intellectual property rights enshrined in the United States Constitution, the patent system is nearly as old as the nation itself. The U.S. government has granted millions of patents since Samuel Hopkins received the first patent in U.S. history on July 31, 1790. In recent years, the growth in patent applications has been exponential. Throughout the nation’s history, inventors, lawmakers, and government employees have worked to expand and advance the patent system.
From the lightbulb to the slinky, utility patents protect how a product or process works.
Design patents protect the visual appearance of a product, they have been used to protect iconic designs ranging from the Statue of Liberty to the original Coca Cola bottle.
Certain types of plant varieties have been eligible for patent protection in the United States. The first two plant patents, granted in 1931, were for unique rose cultivars.
For more patent milestones, visit USPTO