Inventions to Survive a Hurricane

Neccessity is the mother of invention

The 2023 hurricane forecast was recently released. As we get closer the opening of another hurricane season we know when hurricanes come they bring along destruction on a wide scale. The large area effect becomes one of the biggest issues – too many problems in too large an area.

Inventions are often born of necessity, and natural disasters usually spur new inventive ideas. Perhaps you had an idea or created something to help you get through or cope with the recent storms. If so, feel free to call our intellectual property law office (Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston) for patent advice.

There are some practical, and not so practical, inventions to help survive a hurricane. The first step is surviving the hurricane itself and many of the inventions are not terribly practical for the average person. However, after the hurricane, there are some extremely practical inventions that the average person can do to survive until help arrives.

Surviving the hurricane

Whereas there is no guaranteed way to survive a storm, there are some inventions made to help you do just that.

The Hurricane Bed

The patent application (patent issued 1985) describes a bed that is wind resistant and bolted to the floor. The patent does not describe anything about water proofing and with recent flooding in Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, one cannot help but to imagine a watery grave in a sardine box bolted to the ground.

The Survival Capsule

This capsule is round (for strength) and made to float and be self-righting. The capsules come in various sizes which can hold varying numbers of occupants and all are made to have over one hour of air supply. The capsules can also be fitted with additional air tanks, fresh water to drink, and are insulated for temperature control. The sphere can be tethered if desired and can also be equipped with a GPS system.

For those who live near the shoreline, this capsule is also great for tsunamis. This is a very viable system to survive a natural disaster, but from a practicality standpoint it is hard for every home to be equipped with one at this time.

hurricane survival capsule

A Gear Bag

The best way to prepare for a natural disaster is to have a bag packed and ready. Call it a bug out bag, or a “go” bag – it’s a great start to having something you can easily and quickly grab that is full of everything you might need for the near future.

Your go bag should be water proof. Yeti creates a bag called the Panga that is one excellent choice. Ziplocs or pouches like the “Magpul” can be used to store important documents, medicine, papers, and your cell phone.

hurricane bag

Clean Water

After a hurricane, one of the biggest problems is access to clean drinking water. The water from a hurricane is not clean rain water. It has mixed with sewage and other contaminants and is now a toxic brew. It can potentially take days or weeks before the normal water supply is available. Though many rescuers bring in water bottles, it may take them time to reach you.

The LifeSaver Bottle is one of several products that can filter water for you. The company also makes larger jerry cans and other products, but a simple small bottle can let you filter up to 4,000 liters of water before needing a filter change. You can use the standing water around you to stay hydrated while being protected from viruses and bacteria. There are also products like the LifeStraw and the Lifestraw Go Water Bottle.

Another invention is the WaterBob. It fits inside a normal bathtub and can be filled with clean water prior to the disaster. It can hold 100 gallons of fresh drinking water.

hurricane water bottle


LuminAid creates a solar inflatable light. When power is out for days and the batteries are all wet or dead, having something simple like a light at night can be a huge morale booster.

luminade solar light

Personal Sanitation

Sanitation is one of the largest problems after a disaster as sickness can easily effect a whole evacuation center. Rahim Bhimani created a disaster relief toilet that uses a bagging system to catch and dispose of waste. The unit can be folded down flat, easily assembled and transported.

An often overlooked, little talked about subject is female personal hygiene products. These can be impossible to find after a natural disaster. One option that can easily be packed into your go bag is a new type of “period proof” activewear. Thinx holds several patents on their organic, cotton products.

hurricane hygiene


There are many items here to list, everything from freeze dried food options to portable solar stoves. The important thing is to grab enough food for a few days that is lightweight and easy to prepare.

It is true that one could survive for days without having something as simple as a go bag packed and ready. But there is a huge difference between barely making it out alive and living a little rough for a few days. A prepared kit can make the difference.

Thanks to modern inventors for thinking of such products and how they can help during natural disasters.

If you have an idea for an invention that you would like to discuss – Call our office today!

Do I need to copyright my website?

Everyone Has a Website

Whether you build a website for personal or business reasons, chances are good that you pour your heart and soul into it. After all, that website is a reflection of you, and it also may be the first contact that your customers have with your business.

After putting so much time and effort into building your website, it makes sense to protect it. This doesn’t occur to many website owners, with the result that they are unable to recover damages when someone else steals their content.

Copyright Content

All of the content that you add to your website is either originally created by you or was created by someone else, like a contractor or employee, who was working for you. This means that you now own that content, whether it’s pages that describe who you are and what you do, blog posts or something else entirely.

Whatever that content is, you own it, and this means that you have the right to prevent others from using it without your permission. When you do see that someone has used your website content without asking you first, a registered copyright gives you the ability to pursue legal remedies.

Automatic Copyright Laws

You may have heard that copyright protection in the U.S. is automatic. This is true. In fact, anything that you fix in tangible form, like a drawing or a recording, enjoys automatic copyright protection in America.

However, this automatic copyright doesn’t necessarily go far enough when it comes to protecting your website’s content. Plagiarism on the Internet is rampant. Plenty of bad actors are out there who will simply copy your content or photographs and paste them onto their own website.

What can you do if this happens?

In this situation, it is best to have a federally registered copyright for your website and all of its content, which includes text, photos and other images. A formal registration demonstrates the date of creation of the content, enabling you to prove beyond a doubt that you are the originator and/or owner of the content.

What Federal Copyright Registration Provides

When you register your copyright, you are formally demonstrating your authorship of the content. If you hired someone to create some or all of your website content for you, then it makes sense to enter into formal agreements with these individuals in which they legally assign their rights in the created material to you. This usually helps to prevent later disputes should they ever arise.

Additionally, when you have registered your copyright, you have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against an infringer. When a website is under a federal copyright, then the website’s owner may have the ability to claim statutory damages in addition to attorney’s fees if a lawsuit becomes necessary.

Copyright Notice

Whether you pursue a federal copyright registration or not, it is always sensible to include a copyright notice on each page of your website. Usually, such notices appear at the bottom of the page, and they may be as simple as “Copyright 2020.” Other possible copyright notices include ” © 2020″ or “All rights reserved.”

Still other appropriate copyright notices for websites include the name of the company or the individual who owns the website. As an example, the notice may read: “Copyright 2020, the ABC Company.”

While adding copyright notices to your website is not a requirement even if you federally register your copyrights, it is wise to do so to inform any visitors with bad intentions that you are aware of your rights and will defend them.

Ask an Intellectual Property Attorney for Assistance

Are you creating your first website or are you already the owner of several websites and just recently became aware that someone has stolen some of your content? In either situation, it’s wise to contact the Williams IP Law Office in Texas.

Jeffrey Williams helps clients with determining whether or not to federally register a copyright for various content on their websites. Moreover, Jeff can provide assistance with drawing up the various formal agreements that may be needed to ensure that the rights to website content are properly assigned from the author to the website’s owner.

Copyrighting website content in the U.S. is neither particularly difficult nor expensive, but it can be instrumental when it comes to protecting your work from infringement. If you’re serious about ensuring that others cannot take advantage of your hard work, then contact Williams IP Law.

How Do Patents Encourage Innovation

The Innovation Argument

Imagine a world where ideas weren’t protected. You’d find a host of problems that came from it such as people never getting to profit from their ideas. The problem with that? No one would feel the drive to innovate if there were no reward from doing it. Patents were invented as a way of protecting intellectual property. If you spent decades working on a project, you’d want some rightful compensation for it.

Protecting Ideas

The concept of protecting ideas goes back to July 31, 1790, when Samuel Hopkins was granted a patent for a unique method of producing potash, but some people believe that the idea of protecting ideas could actually hinder innovation—whether that’s true or not depends on opinion. While it makes sense in theory that patents protect innovation and innovation is good for society, the inventor often gets rights over a broad subject matter, which can stifle innovation. The person who has the patent rights will normally have control over it for a 20-year period where they basically have a monopoly on the idea. For example, let’s say that someone was given the rights for a steam-powered train. Only the individual who had the rights to the steam-powered train could innovate with it, or they could face lawsuits in the court. At the end of the patent period, anyone can innovate with the idea.

Difficult to Prove

Almost any CEO working in a business will tell people that his patents are crucial to protecting his business. Economists, on the other hand, have questioned this idea for years. Another problem comes from how the lack of a patent can take the steam out of someone’s engine. For example, a patent gives an individual a reason to develop his ideas further. However, if the patent application gets rejected for whatever reason, the chance of the invention going to the market decrease by as much as 13 percent. The individual could have a great idea, but they give up if they fail to get the idea through the patent process, they sometimes give up earlier than what they should have.

Does This Question Matter?

Asking whether patents are harmful is a kind of idle question because almost every country in the world uses the patent system. In addition, no one has any plans of dismantling the system because it has been highly useful and protected the rights of business owners. However, it is a useful question to wonder what the world might be like without patents. Would it encourage innovation or hinder it?

The Concern in Technology

One of the chief concerns of it coming from the technology sector is the fact that it could block off entire areas for development and research. Let’s say that you have a breast cancer gene patent. It could stop further research from other people developing it. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. People negotiating to be allowed to further develop the idea could hinder the innovation in the field under the wrong circumstances.

Some of the strategies that you will find that people have used as a workaround in the field of biomedicine include:

  • Ignore a broad patent too broad to challenge.
  • Combine the technologies.
  • Redirecting the efforts towards research.
  • Get engaged with licensing.

The one thing that we have to understand is how these ideas aren’t without their share of difficulties.

Adjusting the System

We shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater because the patent system does a great job at protecting people and rewarding those who come up with innovative ideas. However, in the future, we should look at figuring out ways that could help with enhancing innovation through patents.

The patent has become an effective tool for sharing knowledge. In fact, many places like the US, Europe and Japan depend on patent information because it allows them to understand how far technology has come. The idea is that hopefully, it will assist with sparking more valuable ideas. Thomas Edison gives us one historic example of a figure who would visit the patent office as a way of giving him ideas for his own inventions. This could, fact, be a good thing because otherwise, inventors would rightfully guard their inventions secretively, and this could harm innovation.

Jeff Williams is an experienced mechanical engineer and lawyer that consults closely with clients in a strait forward and clear manner. He brings a particular set of strengths and unique perspectives to the firm.

New Tool For Intellectual Property Owners

Are you a creator or an entrepreneur? Perhaps you’ve just started a new business. It’s an exciting time, but it isn’t always easy to identify the most critical tasks that you need to accomplish.

Choosing the proper entity and getting registered with the state certainly are crucial. However, your new venture may benefit just as much from identifying your intellectual property assets and how to protect them.

Your intellectual property, otherwise known as IP, may consist of things like your company’s name and logo as well as the new product that you’re launching. Maybe you have written some brand-new and revolutionary computer code or composed a piece of music.

Regardless of what you have created, chances are good that it could be considered IP, and that means that you’ll want to think about whether or not it makes sense to formally protect that IP with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

If you are new to the world of IP, then it definitely is wise to find an experienced guide. An intellectual property attorney can provide you with the support and advice you need. However, if you’re wondering if what you’ve created could even be considered intellectual property, then you may need a more basic place to start.

A New Online Tool for Innovators

Most countries have a government department that’s in charge of handling patent and trademark applications within its borders. In America, this department is known as the US Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO.

The USPTO provides a variety of online tools and resources through which it is possible to search and file patent and trademark applications, communicate with examining attorneys and more. While some of these tools and resources are fairly user-friendly, many of them are intended for use by intellectual property attorneys and other legal professionals who have a significant level of experience in this area.

Recently, the USPTO announced the launch of a new online resource called the Intellectual Property (IP) Identifier. What sets this tool apart from many of the others on the USPTO website is that it is purpose built for people who don’t have extensive experience with IP.

In fact, it isn’t necessary to know the difference between a patent and a trademark because the Intellectual Property Identifier takes you step-by-step through the process of deciding what kind of IP you have and how to protect it.

Additionally, this innovative virtual resource provides approachable information regarding the various forms of intellectual property protection and how each might be advantageous for a business or an individual to pursue.

The IP Identifier in Detail

Currently, the IP Identifier consists of two main modules. These are the Basic IP Identifier and the Advanced IP Identifier. Users move through the Basic module by answering just a half dozen questions. This helps the user to identify their IP and how to protect it.

The Advanced module takes things a few steps further by providing information to users about their IP. Links to additional resources are provided. These resources include instructions for how to file an application to protect IP.

The USPTO plans to launch a third module in the future about managing IP assets.

Why Use the Identifier and Protect Your IP?

Many inventors and entrepreneurs who are new to the world of IP feel a little overwhelmed when it’s suggested that they should seek patent protection. In fact, some innovators put off filing applications with the USPTO until it’s too late. Frequently, this means that someone else has already filed a patent application for similar technology, which can make it difficult or even impossible for anyone else to obtain meaningful protection.

According to the USPTO, protecting intellectual property “is a smart and necessary business strategy” that is of tangible benefit to organizations. A first patent may be used as collateral, which is known to increase capital funding by as much as 76-percent in a three-year period. Obtaining a first patent additionally has been known to increase initial public offering funding by as much as 128-percent.

Most entrepreneurs also don’t realize that having protected IP can be a powerful tool for recruiting. Statistics suggest that the approval of an initial patent application may lead to 36-percent employee growth over a five-year period. Market share similarly can increase. Studies concluded that startups that have a patent tend to increase sales 80-percent more than companies that have no protected IP.

Ready to Start Your IP Journey?

At Williams IP Law, we help entrepreneurs of every size and description obtain the IP protection that they need. While we provide support to large companies, we also are dedicated to helping startups and individual inventors learn more about intellectual property and how they can protect their most valuable assets.

Schedule a free consultation today with a legal professional at Williams IP Law.

Common Copyright Violations You Probably Commit

Have you ever heard of people illegally downloading music or movies? Activity such as this is an example of a copyright violation.

However, copyrights do not only protect music and films. They can be used to protect photographs, books, software code, blog posts and many other original works.

Copyrights are extremely important to creators who want to protect their work. People who wish to use these works may be just as interested in copyrights. That’s because it is recommended that those who want to use the creations of others obtain permission to do so. In fact, it’s not only recommended but also required by law.

How can you protect your original works? How can you be certain that you aren’t violating someone else’s copyright? Read on to learn more.

The Basics of Copyrights

Copyrights are one form of intellectual property, or IP. Other forms of IP include patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

This form of IP is used to protect “works of authorship.” Any work that is created and fixed in tangible form is automatically copyrighted in the U.S. This is true whether or not the work is actually registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Copyright protection provides exclusive rights to the owner of the work. Accordingly, the owner is protected against other people adapting, distributing or reproducing their work. If the owner wants to be able to protect their rights in the court system, then they must register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

When someone exercises rights that actually belong to the copyright’s owner, infringement has occurred. Infringement may be any form of distribution, including a performance or sales. It does not matter whether the infringing party seeks monetary gain from the use or not.

What does copyright infringement look like?

It could be any of these:

  • Distributing or selling t-shirts that feature an image that is copyrighted;
  • Using someone else’s photographs on your website;
  • Using your smart phone to record a film in the theater;
  • Illegally downloading some songs;
  • Downloading software that is under a license from an unauthorized website;
  • Re-broadcasting a television show; or
  • Publishing a video that features a copyrighted song.

When Is It Acceptable to Use Copyrighted Material?

Sometimes, it is legal and acceptable to use material that someone else owns. One example of this is via direct licensing.

Direct licensing typically involves contacting the copyright’s owner and asking them for permission to use their material. The owner can grant a license while still retaining ownership of the copyright. Moreover, the owner can set stipulations and restrictions, which may include payment for use of their protected material.

A legal doctrine known as fair use also can make it acceptable to use someone else’s copyrighted material. Fair use states that under certain conditions it may be possible to use copyrighted works without infringing someone else’s rights. Generally, the material must be used for educational, non-profit purposes. Perhaps the use only involves a small portion of the work or doesn’t harm the value of the copyright.

Fair use frequently shows up in academic settings, but it also may make an appearance in parodies or works of criticism or commentary. It is possible that the copyright’s owner will take exception to the use of their material, and the courts will use the guidelines of fair use to determine if actual infringement occurred.

Alternatively, a copyright owner may establish a Creative Commons license in association with the work. This means that it is possible for members of the public to make use of the copyrighted material, as long as they do so in cooperation with the Creative Commons license.

Sometimes, “works of authorship” become a part of the public domain. This means that the copyright has expired, the owner’s work was somehow not eligible for copyright protection or the owner has deliberately made the work available in the public domain. Thus, this material is publicly owned and can be used for virtually any purpose.

Claims for Copyright Infringement

Creators who are serious about protecting their work are encouraged to pursue copyright registrations. This gives them the ability to easily prove their ownership of the material and file legal claims to protect their rights.

In a claim of copyright infringement, the copyright owner needs to demonstrate the actions taken by the alleged infringer that violated the owner’s rights. Additionally, it is essential that the copyright owner be able to show that the alleged infringer’s actions went beyond the fair use doctrine. No proof that the owner suffered monetary damages is required.

Most copyright infringement cases are decided based on long-standing precedents and case law. They are heard in civil courts, and if the plaintiff prevails, they can stop the infringing actions and receive monetary compensation.

Have You Infringed Any Copyrights?

Some copyright infringements seem quite small and inconsequential, like using a photo that someone else took on your website. However, chances are good that this infringing use is a really big deal to the copyright owner.

Before illegally downloading a new song, take a moment to consider the rights of songwriter and the artist. If you are a creator and are concerned about how your work might be used without your permission, then it’s time to consider registering your works with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Contact Williams IP Law today to schedule an initial consultation.

4 most famous copyright cases

Like patents and trademarks, copyrights are a form of intellectual property protection. In fact, copyrights are used to protect works of authorship that are original and are fixed in a tangible form. This means that copyrights can be used to protect drawings, photographs, compositions, audio recordings, books, films, plays, computer programs, blog posts and additional creations.

In order to obtain and enforce a copyright, it is essential to have the copyright recorded with the U.S. Copyright Office. The author of the created work typically is the owner of the copyright, though it is possible to assign ownership to an individual or entity, such as if the work was created in the course of the creator’s employment.

Moreover, it is possible for a copyright owner to grant permission to others to use all or a portion of their original work. Such agreements may involve the payment of fees to the copyright owner to compensate them for their work.

Unfortunately, many people and organizations don’t understand the finer points of U.S. copyright law. This may lead them to inadvertently use something that does not belong to them. Examples of this may include quoting from someone else’s book without citing the source or using a portion of another’s song in a sound recording. When a person features a photograph on their website that was taken by someone else, this also may be copyright infringement if permission was not obtained.

While some cases of copyright infringement are accidental or unintentional, others are not so innocent. Occasionally, someone will deliberately use all or a portion of someone else’s work and pass it off as their own.

Whether the infringement is accidental or intentional, the responsibility for enforcing their rights falls to the copyright owner.

Some copyright disputes become so heated that they turn into litigation. Other cases manage to avoid a trial, but they still undergo an intense and very public battle to determine who unfairly borrowed from someone else’s work.

Here is a look at some of the most famous copyright cases.

David Bowie and Queen vs. Vanilla Ice

The music industry is rife with copyright disputes. Songs may be protected in two ways with copyrights. These protections include coverage for the composition and for the sound recording of the composition. If someone wants to legally use any part of a song that is protected by copyright, then it may be necessary to obtain two licenses from the copyright owner. A sync license may be granted for the composition while a master-use license is needed for the sound recording. Accordingly, it may be necessary to obtain the permission of the songwriter, the performer, the record label and the producer.

When Vanilla Ice released his song “Ice Ice Baby” in 1990, listeners couldn’t help but hear that the bass line was incredibly similar to that used in the 1981 collaboration between David Bowie and Queen entitled “Under Pressure.”

Lawyers working for Bowie and Queen threatened to sue Vanilla Ice for copyright infringement. Vanilla Ice responded by saying that the bass lines were different as his melody included an additional note.

However, the difference was considered inconsequential, and he was sued. The case was settled out of court. While the amount of the settlement was not made publicly available, experts speculate that paying Bowie and Queen for a license would have been far less expensive than paying the out of court settlement proved to be.

Similar examples are found throughout the industry. One of the earliest of these occurred in the 1960s when Chuck Berry’s representatives accused the Beach Boys of plagiarizing one of Berry’s songs. The allegations centered on the Beach Boys’ song “Surfin’ USA,” which Berry accused of being a copy of his 1958 release “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

This one didn’t come down to a lawsuit, but it certainly established a precedent for the need for artists to protect their work.

Star Wars vs. Battlestar Galactica

If you were a fan of science fiction living in the late 1970s, it was a great time to be alive. With the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977, sci-fi films and television series took the world by storm.

Following Star Wars’ success in 1978, the first episode of Battlestar Galactica aired on television. From a ratings perspective, it performed fairly well. It only lasted for one season that consisted of 24 episodes. It seemed that the series was destined to be quickly forgotten.

However, the short-lived television series did make an impression on executives at Twentieth Century-Fox, the studio responsible for Star Wars. Fox sued Universal Pictures because of Battlestar Galactica, claiming that the series was clear copyright infringement on Star Wars.

In all, Fox listed more than 30 similarities that they alleged were infringing. The case lasted much longer than the television series, dragging on for half a decade only to be settled out of court. This left the allegations largely unresolved.

Why did the two sides settle without going to trial? It likely is because Fox would have had a difficult time proving that Battlestar Galactica was truly infringing rather than just being a copycat. Lawyers representing Star Wars would have had to prove that the elements at the heart of the case were original to Fox, that all of those elements qualified for copyright protection and that the TV series copied those elements.

Simply put, Fox had an uphill battle ahead of them. Settling out of court probably made a lot of sense for both parties.

James Dyson vs. Hoover

Not every copyright case is about an artistic endeavor like a song or a film. Sometimes, these cases are more technology driven.

This was the case in the 2001 legal matter between inventor James Dyson and vacuum cleaner maker Hoover.

Dyson had gained fame as an inventor for a bag-less vacuum that relied on two cyclones, one to pick up small objects and one to pick up larger items.

In the case, Dyson alleged that Hoover had infringed his design with their Triple Vortex model. Hoover argued that the technology behind Dyson’s Dual Cyclone was already well known in the industry, but the court didn’t buy it.

Instead, the court decided that Hoover had willfully copied the Dyson technology. At the same time, the court preserved Hoover’s right to use the “VORTEX” trademark on its vacuums.

Clearly, copyright cases can be extremely complicated, and they can spill over into trademark and patent territory as well.

Cariou vs. Prince

Here’s an interesting case that arose in 2011. Appropriation artist Richard Prince made changes to more than 40 images culled from a photography book by Patrick Cariou. Prince claimed that he had created something new with the photos, which meant that his work fell under the fair use doctrine. Cariou called the work copyright infringement.

The court ultimately decided for Cariou. According to the judge, the changes that Prince made to the photographs were not significant enough to change their meaning.

Prince appealed the ruling, and eventually won, with the court finding that the appropriated art had a different nature and target audience than the original works.

Should You Register a Copyright for Your Work?

Obtaining a registered copyright is a much less arduous process than obtaining a patent or registering a trademark. Nonetheless, a registered copyright gives the owner some incredibly useful and powerful tools should their rights ever be infringed.

Litigation is risky, and the outcome is never guaranteed. Accordingly, when infringement is suspected, it is always best to explore various avenues of resolution that don’t necessarily involve going to trial.

If you would like to register your work for a copyright or are concerned that someone has infringed your intellectual property rights, contact Williams IP Law for advice. We offer free initial consultations to new clients.

Who Invented the Car?

When it comes to American society and culture, few inventions have been as instrumental as the automobile. That leads many to assume that the car was invented in America, perhaps by Henry Ford.

However, this is not the case. Most historians agree that the first true automobile was invented by Karl Benz. His patented, three-wheeled Motor Car, which was popularly called the “Motorwagen,” was introduced in 1886. By most definitions, it can be considered the first of the modern automobiles.

Benz was a prolific inventor who also obtained official protection for a carburetor, a water radiator, gear shifters, spark plugs, a throttle system and a variety of other components that are considered basic to automobiles. You might even recognize the Daimler Group name, the car company that Benz founded.

Before Benz

While Karl Benz may have produced the first real-world, working automobile, he was not the first to imagine such a contraption.

No less a luminary than Leonardo da Vinci left numerous sketches of mechanized carts that did not require horses in the early 16th century. Inventors in China built wind-propelled sailing chariots quite early. Westerners were captivated with the idea, and by 1600, Holland had a sailing chariot that was capable of carrying nearly 30 people and could travel approximately 40 miles in a period of two hours.

A self-propelled steam-engine vehicle was built by France’s Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769. His invention was mainly used to move pieces of heavy artillery. It moved at a walking pace and operators had to stop at 20-minute intervals to give the machine the time it needed to build up additional steam.

Similarly, the meaning of “car” has morphed over the centuries. Drawing toward the close of the 19th century, many people were familiar with the word “streetcar,” which referred to a tram. Before this, people used “streetcar” to refer to omnibuses that ran on rails and were pulled by horses.

When the earliest cars were introduced, they frequently were referred to as “horseless carriages,” and the word “automobile” comes from the French.

What About Ford and Other Innovators?

Although Karl Benz is credited with manufacturing the first modern-day automobile, he certainly wasn’t alone in his efforts. Many other creative individuals were working on similar projects at the same time.

Henry Ford was just one of these. Historians agree that it was Ford who truly made cars accessible to the masses, changing driving from a hobby for the rich into a fundamental aspect of daily life for people in every social level.

Although Henry Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he is recognized as having been an innovator who combined the two and perfected the process of efficiently building cars.

Ford built his first automobile in 1896, with a second prototype following two years later. After establishing two car companies that failed, Ford finally started his namesake Ford Motor Company in 1903.

What made Ford’s most recent effort different from his earlier ventures? Instead of focusing on just manufacturing cars, he had turned his emphasis to producing cars in considerable volume. At the time, most companies that were building cars were operated by people who had been in the business of building coaches. These vehicles were built in time-consuming and laborious hands-on processes by master craftsmen. Accordingly, the cars produced by this company were expensive, and most people could not afford them.

Ford’s innovation was a desire to build “a motorcar for the great multitude.” The Model A and the Model N were already being produced and sold, but Ford now turned his attention to the Model T. When Ford introduced this car in 1908, it was probably the easiest car in existence in terms of drivability and repairs. This made the Model T extremely popular, but Ford was still determined to build more of them and lower the price.

That’s when Ford began manufacturing the Model T on an assembly line. The process was repeatedly tweaked and perfected until, in 1913, it was possible to built a Model T in a mere two and-a-half hours.

Internal Combustion Engines

Where would early cars be without the internal combustion engine? This type of engine relies upon the explosive combustion of fuel to push a piston that is housed within a cylinder. The movement of the piston turns the crankshaft, which is connected to the car’s wheels.

The earliest roots of the internal combustion engine go back to 1680 when Christiann Huygens designed an engine that was fueled by gunpowder. Unfortunately, Huygens was never able to build his design.

In 1826, an Englishman by the name of Samuel Brown retooled a steam engine so that it would burn gasoline. The engine was attached to a carriage, but his invention never really took off.

By 1873, American George Brayton had developed a two-stroke engine that ran on kerosene. In the same decade, a German inventor, Nikolaus August Otto patented a four-stroke engine.

French inventor Rudolf Diesel patented the diesel engine in 1895. His invention was highly efficient and featured a compression ignition.

The Road to Innovation Is Winding

As you can see, it is impossible to say that a major invention like the automobile can be attributed to just one person. Instead, there are incremental improvements, some of them occurring over centuries.

What will you create today that might inspire the inventors of tomorrow? It’s impossible to say, but it is essential that you protect your hard work by seeking patent protection.

Contact Williams IP Law today to schedule your free consultation.

9 Best Inventions of 2021

Every year, creative people continue to innovate and invent. They help to make life simpler, prolong life or make people more productive.

Across every industry, surprising and helpful inventions are introduced every year. Here is a look at some of the top inventions of 2021. How will they make your life better?


How many times have you come home with a take-out package of your favorite meal, only to find the next day that it’s become a soggy mess that hardly resembles its original state?

SAVRpak is designed to prevent this situation from ever happening again. Just put this peel-and-stick patch into any take-out container, paper bag or pizza box to keep your food fresh and as good as new. SAVRpak works by extracting moisture from the air that’s naturally found inside food containers before it can turn into condensation that settles on the food’s surface. This invention not only ensures that your take-out tastes better but also translates to less food waste.

OrCam Read

People across the world struggle with reading. Whether this struggle is caused by dyslexia, poor eyesight or difficulties with comprehension, many people find that their lifestyle is limited by their lack of ability to quickly and easily read text. OrCam Read aims to solve this problem by combining artificial intelligence with computer vision.

The technology is capable of reading any text out loud as a user aims the device’s laser frame at the text. After pressing a button, the device vocalizes it. The speaking voice sounds surprisingly natural, and it can read multiple languages. Capable of reading menus, books, computer screens, advertisements and more, the OrCam Read is bound to change lives for millions of people.

ENO SkyLite

Whether you are a serious backpacker or just want a more comfortable way to lounge in your yard, you’ll be fascinated by this high-end and innovative hammock. Backpackers love it because it’s incredibly lightweight. Instead of packing a tent and sleeping bag, they can just take this hammock and tarp along instead.

The ENO SkyLite has a pair of lightweight, removable aluminum bars on either side to support the hammock like a bed frame. The result is a stable, flat and supportive sleeping platform that is eminently portable. With a built-in bug net and canopy, the ENO SkyLite ensures pest-free sleeping no matter the conditions. A compression sack is attached, and it becomes a pocket when the hammock is in use. Use the pocket for holding a flashlight, phone, wallet and other necessities.

Sphero Indi

In today’s technology-driven world, learning to code is a basic skill from which more people could benefit. Sphero Indi is designed to help kids four and older learn to code in a manner that is surprisingly fun and creative.

This innovative teaching device essentially is a robotic toy car that children can instruct to run through a maze. As their skills progress, they also will solve numerous logic problems. This means that kids are learning essential programming skills through play, and this might help them to develop an interest that will stand the test of time.

Nuro R2

This self-driving electric delivery vehicle is designed to carry a variety of products to neighborhoods while prioritizing the safety of everyone in the vicinity.

The Nuro R2 is equipped with a multitude of tools that make it possible not only to improve its ride but also to protect anyone who might be outside of the vehicle. Equipped with 360-degree cameras, the R2 also is fitted with ultrasonic sensors and both long- and short-range radar. The Nuro R2 is intended to save people time and effort by delivering prescription drugs, groceries, pizzas and other necessities.

Starkey Livio AI – Advanced Hearing Aids

These intelligent hearing aids are designed to make life better by amplifying the sounds that the wearer wants to hear and diminishing background noises that they would prefer to ignore. These hearing aids are able to make as many as 55 million personalized adjustments 24 hours a day. This translates to genuine, realistic sound quality regardless of how loud the environment may be.

The Starkey Livio AI hearing aids are smart devices that connect to a smartphone to wirelessly monitor the wearer’s brain and physical activity to deliver live updates with impeccable quality of sound.


As the developer says in the literature, ProxyAddress is an address that follows you. Created in the U.K., ProxyAddress is intended to help tackle the problems associated with homelessness. A person who is homeless may lose their civic identity, making their existence even more unstable and causing them to lose basic services that they need and to which they are entitled.

ProxyAddress may not provide people with a home to live in, but it does give them an address that they can use while homeless so that they can receive services. Access to these services helps many people who are struggling get back on their feet.

Verilux CleanWave Sanitizing Wand

This convenient portable stick is capable of eliminating bacteria, germs and even odors so that people and their belongings can stay clean no matter where they go. Equipped with UV-C lights that are not harmful to skin, the CleanWave Sanitizing Wand is a disinfectant tool that can be used to clean tables, doors and a variety of other objects to help people stay healthy.

Solar Roadways

Recently approved by the FCC, Solar Roadways has the potential for life-changing transformations across the globe. The company developed hexagonally shaped solar road panels that have onboard microprocessors. These control the heating elements in the panel to prevent the accumulation of snow and ice. The panels further are equipped with LEDs for the illumination of road lines or to spell out information and warnings for drivers. Each panel is set up to be able to communicate with the others as well as with vehicles.

The plan is that these solar panels will be embedded into ordinary roads and highways everywhere. Thus, solar-powered cars will be able to charge up even while on the go.

Do you think we missed any amazing inventions on this list? Let us know in the comments.

Where Will Your Inventions Take You?

Contact Williams IP Law today to speak with a patent attorney about your life-changing ideas. Patent protection is an essential step that prevents others from taking advantage of your hard work and inspiration. Schedule a free consultation with a patent lawyer today.