8 Patents That Have Killed Their Inventors

Some inventions are fated to never get off the ground. The inventors have a great idea, but they discover that there isn’t a market for the technology or that it’s simply too cumbersome to implement.

Other inventors, and the inventions they create, become famous. Their names may be known all over the world, and some of them appear in history books. Some inventions even make their creators wealthy.

Despite this success, inventors aren’t always protected from disaster. In fact, many inventors throughout the centuries have actually been killed by the things they created.

Here is a look at a few of them.

Horace Lawson Hunley

Working for the Confederate States of America during the U.S. Civil War, Hunley was a marine engineer whose invention was a hand-powered submarine. Hunley’s main objective was to subvert the Union blockade of southern ports, and his early efforts looked like they would be successful. Hunley was in command of the H.L. Hunley during a routine exercise in 1863 during which the vessel sank, killing all eight men on board. Not to be deterred, the Confederate States of America raised the vessel in 1864 and used it to sink the enemy vessel, USS Housatonic.

Karel Soucek

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1947, Soucek was a professional stuntman who called Canada home. In 1984, he successfully went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. His daredevil stunt made him famous and earned him a great deal of money. In fact, Soucek determined that he would build a museum in Ontario at Niagara Falls in which his stunt-related equipment would be displayed. To raise money for the venture, Soucek convinced a large company to pay for him to perform a barrel drop from the Houston Astrodome into a water tank. The fall would total 180 feet. Unfortunately, the barrel drop was ill-fated. A premature release sent the tank spinning to such a degree that it missed the water tank, hitting the rim instead. Soucek died shortly after being cut out of the barrel.

Marie Curie

Perhaps best known as Madame Curie, the famous physicist discovered Polonium and Radium. She was twice awarded the Nobel Prize, but her experiments had a high price. After being exposed for years to radioactive materials without proper safety precautions, Madame Curie died in 1934 at the age of 66. Her cause of death is thought to have been bone marrow failure. Nonetheless, the medical research centers that she founded in Warsaw and Paris are still in existence today and continue to make scientific breakthroughs.

Francis Edgar Stanley

Francis, or F.E., Stanley and his twin brother Freeland Oscar, or F.O., Stanley were American businessmen who founded the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. Their greatest invention was the Stanley Steamer, a steam-operated automobile. The company was in business from 1902 until 1924 when it was sold and dissolved. Tragically, F.E. Stanley was killed when he accidentally crashed his car into a roadside woodpile while trying to avoid colliding with farm wagons that were traveling abreast of each other.

Max Valier

An Austrian pioneer in the field of rocketry, Valier was among the founders of the German Spaceflight Society that was one of the earliest organizations to bring together many of the innovators who would one day make space flight possible. In the 1920s, the society was working on building liquid-fuelled rockets, and by 1930, Valier was able to test drive a rocket car that was powered with liquid propulsion. Unfortunately, he was killed shortly afterward in an explosion of an alcohol-fuelled rocket in Berlin.

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier

An 18th century Frenchman who was a noted instructor of physics and chemistry, de Rozier also was an aviation pioneer. Along with a colleague, he was part of the inaugural manned free balloon flight. The flight was completed in a Montgolfier balloon in 1783. It’s impossible to say what else de Rozier might have invented had he lived. He was killed in a subsequent balloon flight, in which he attempted to fly across the English Channel, in 1785 at the age of 31.

Henry Smolinski

Smolinkski was the victim of an untimely death in 1973 as he piloted an aircraft he made himself by attaching the wings of a Cessna 337 to a Ford Pinto. His craft was called the AVE Mizar, and it crashed on its first test flight with Smolinski at the controls. Theoretically, the Pinto with wings was capable of flying at speeds of 130 MPH and at about 12,000 feet above the ground’s surface. Smolinski had modified the dashboard with instruments like an altimeter and radio navigational equipment, all to no avail.

William Bullock

Bullock is considered a pioneer in the printing industry thanks to the improvements he made to the rotary printing press that was an invention of Richard March Hoe. Boasting far greater efficiency and speed, Bullock’s improvements helped publications like Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly become famous across the country. Bullock’s web rotary press made it possible to use continuous rolls of paper that were automatically fed through the press’s rollers, making hand feeding obsolete. Sadly, Bullock was working on one of his own presses in 1867 when his leg was crushed by the machine. After developing gangrene, doctors operated to amputate the limb, but Bullock died on the operating table.

Where Will Your Inventions Take You?

Most inventors are fortunate enough not to be killed by their own innovations. In fact, some of them even manage to obtain patent protection and actually earn a profit based on their work. If you have a great idea that you want to protect, then contact Williams IP Law today.

The Invention Process for Entrepreneurs

Do you have an invention?

When you have an idea for a new invention, the excitement you feel can be hard to contain. In the space of a few moments, you see yourself bringing a desirable new product to market and earning millions of dollars in the process.

Unfortunately, the invention process is complicated. Getting your new product from an idea to an actual item on store shelves requires a great deal of time and effort. It’s also essential that you protect your innovation with a patent application so that you can prevent others from taking advantage of your creativity.

Although the invention process looks a little different each time, there are still certain steps that you can expect to take.

Develop and Document Your Idea

You need much more than a vague concept to get started. Accordingly, you may have to spend some time developing your idea.

Keep in mind that most inventions are created in order to solve a problem. As you work to develop your idea, maintain your focus on the problem that you are trying to solve. You may want to keep notes relating to your research, experiments and development efforts.

Prior to 2013, the United States had a “first to invent” patenting system. In the event that two inventors submitted highly similar patent applications, the United States Patent and Trademark Office would award any resulting patent to the applicant who could prove that they had the idea and developed it first, regardless of whether or not they were the first to file a patent application.

In March 2013, U.S. patent law changed, and the system became a “first to file” patent system. This means that keeping dated, witnessed documentation of your development process has become less critical. Nonetheless, you may want to keep plenty of notes to document your process in case another party ever disputes your claim to the invention.

Complete a Patent Search

It is possible for any inventor to conduct a patent search in the online records of the USPTO. The online system enables inventors to look for any existing patents that may be similar to their new invention. For an invention to be patentable, it must be unique and non-obvious. If you discover prior art in your patent search that is duplicative of your invention, then you may need to re-focus your efforts.

Do Some Market Research

Did you know that as many as 95 percent of all patents don’t end up being profitable for the inventor? Usually, this is because the invented item just isn’t something that people need or want. Consequently, it may be sensible to do some market research. Is your invention one that people will actually buy?

Obtaining a patent, developing a product and marketing it are all time-consuming and expensive processes. It makes sense to ensure that there is a good possibility that you can make money from your idea down the road before investing too much time and money.

Take a look at other similar products that are already on the market. How much are they selling for? Will it be possible to manufacture and distribute your product at an affordable cost that makes your retail price reasonable?

Market research can be indispensable to determining whether or not you continue with the next steps of the invention process.

Build a Prototype

This is the step in which your idea becomes tangible. You may build the prototype yourself or hire a manufacturing company to do it for you.

Usually, a prototype begins with drawings. Once again, this is something you can do yourself or hire out. Next, you may create a mockup out of any material that can make a passable 3-D model of your idea. It’s then possible to create a working model.

The prototype is a critical step because it may reveal flaws or missing components in your idea. In fact, you may find yourself going back to the drawing board. That’s perfectly all right. Most inventions are the product of a lot of trial and error.

File a Patent Application

When you, at last, have a working prototype of your invention, you probably have most of the kinks figured out. This means that it’s a good time to think about protecting your idea. Typically, this means filing a patent application.

You may file an application for a utility patent, which covers machines or processes, or a design patent, which covers ornamental designs.

Some inventors elect to write and file the patent application by themselves. However, this rarely is advisable. The application will be reviewed by a lawyer at the USPTO who is likely to issue arguments against the patentability of the invention. Having a qualified intellectual property attorney draft and file your patent application usually makes the process go a little more smoothly. The Examiner at the USPTO still may initially deny a patent, but your attorney will be prepared to file legal arguments that could change the Examiner’s mind.

Work on Fundraising, Manufacturing and Marketing

Now that your invention is “patent pending,” you are ready to move on to disclosing your invention to people and entities that might be able to help you with financing, manufacturing and marketing. This may involve writing up a business plan and setting up your own company. Alternatively, some inventors choose to license their patent rights to a company that will handle things like manufacturing, distribution and marketing.

If you do plan to enter into any legal agreements or licenses with another party, then it’s wise to consult with a patent attorney to ensure that any documents that you consider signing fully protect your interests.

Talk to Williams IP Law

Do you have a great idea that you would like to turn into a marketable product? If so, then give Williams IP Law a call. We are experienced at providing guidance to inventors regardless of where they are in the invention process. Whether you need help with drafting and filing a patent application or deciding if a proposed licensing agreement really is a good deal, Williams IP Law has the knowledge needed to advise you.

Invention Help from a Single Company…or Not?

Be wary if you go into any kind of meeting with a firm that purports to help inventors do it all, and remember the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The unfortunate reality is that many invention help companies are really only in it for themselves. How can you know which ones are legitimate and which ones are just interested in taking you for a ride?

Marketing and Promotions

One giveaway is that the company claims to both pursue patent protection and handle marketing promotions. These are entirely separate processes, with each one requiring a very specific set of skills and expertise.

Pursuing patent protection is best left in the hands of an experienced attorney who focuses on this area of the law. This is because a patent application will be examined by an attorney who works for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Accordingly, it is necessary for the application to comply with numerous legal requirements. It typically is necessary for the applicant to make legal arguments to the Examiner at the patent office regarding the patentability of the invention. A patent lawyer is qualified to make amendments and arguments that are more likely to result in an issued patent.

As far as promotion is concerned, a patent attorney isn’t truly qualified to help. This means that it is necessary for some kind of marketing and advertising professional to take over.

This means that a legitimate invention help company will need to have at least two distinct departments: One that pursues patents and one that handles promotions.

Unless the company can introduce you to dedicated professionals in these two distinct areas, you’re probably wasting your money.

Invention Rejection Rates

If you are interviewing an invention help company, ask them about their product rejection rates. Ideally, you want to hear them name a high rejection rate. This demonstrates a commitment to only working with inventors who seem to have a superior invention. They pour all of their efforts into a product that they believe in, and the rest go into the rejection pile.

On the other hand, if the invention help company says that they accept most inventions, take your time and money elsewhere. This is a sign of a company that isn’t primarily interested in bringing the best products to market. Instead, their goal is to get as much money out of inventors as they can.

Up Front Payments

Similarly, you may want to think twice about invention companies that demand up-front payments. Without a doubt, it is expensive to get a new product from the idea stage to being on store shelves, but be wary of any company that promises to get the job done for a really low price.

Chances are good that this company is not genuinely interested in bringing your product to the market. The company forces initial buy-ins to get their hands on your wallet. Suddenly, extra costs start to emerge. At the same time, company representatives seem reluctant to provide you with even a ballpark estimate of how much the whole process is likely to cost.

This is a major red flag, as is an offer of financing. Be especially wary if financing is available, but only if you act right now. The company is demonstrating their commitment to getting your money and their lack of interest in anything else. Don’t let high-pressure sales tactics reel you in. Take your time, and make a carefully considered decision.

The reality is that taking a new product from a great idea to a tangible item that people can use is a lot of hard work. The dedication of various professionals may be required to make your dream come true.

Other Warning Signs

Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has taken steps to warn inventors against blindly trusting companies that say they exist to help inventors get their new products to market. One of the primary warning signs of a scam, according to the USPTO, is the fact that the company advertises their services on the Internet, television or radio. These ads often say that anyone who responds will get a free inventor’s kit or a complimentary review of their invention. Most of these ads are only designed to lure you in.

Another telltale sign of a scam is a company representative telling you that a market evaluation must be completed, and this necessary step may cost several hundreds of dollars. Frequently, the companies simply take your money and don’t actually perform an evaluation. Nonetheless, you will receive a glowingly positive report that convinces you to invest even more money.

Guaranteed Patent?

Further, beware of any company that guarantees that you will receive a patent or your money will be returned to you. Even for the most experienced patent attorney, it is impossible to guarantee that a patent will be obtained. Too many factors are involved. A reputable lawyer can predict the odds of patentability, but will never make guarantees as this is plainly unethical.

The Other Issues

So what is the problem? We receive multiple calls a month from disgruntled and upset customers to these types of companies. The issues we predominantly hear about are as follows:

  1. Lack of communication except when more money is needed.
  2. Ever increasing fees to do the original quoted package.
  3. Failed performance on engineering work.
  4. Failed marketing – refusal to give any status or who has been spoken to about the invention.
  5. Stuck in making payments for nothing.
  6. No accountability for promises made.

In general, it boils down to too much money in all the wrong places. Over the years, we have become very familiar with how these companies operate. The statistics are heavily weighted against you. So what can be done?

Typically the best thing to do is to seek a patent attorney’s help if you want a patent or to check a potential invention. They can guide you through the process and meet with you directly. They can help with negotiations, licensing, and trademarks too. For engineering, contact an engineer. Some patent attorneys know engineers willing to help (with a fee naturally) and can give you the guidance you need. With respect to marketing, there is no easy way around it. Your efforts are necessary unless you have large amounts of cash to put into marketing agencies. The process is doable for those that put forth the effort. We have seen it happen with our clients.

Williams IP Law has made it a point to network and compile a team of different companies, incubators, or individuals that can help assist you during the invention process. Contact us for a free consultation.

15 Things invented in Texas

Did you know that many of the world’s most famous and useful inventions were created right here in Texas? It’s true!

Read on to learn more about these home-grown innovations.

15. Calculators that Fit in Your Hand

In the 1960s, an electronic desktop calculator was among the most sophisticated machines for doing arithmetic. Texas Instrument revolutionized the landscape with the invention of the first handheld calculator in 1967. Called the Cal Tech, the device was put on the market in 1970.

14. Mary Kay Inc.

Founded in 1963 by Mary Kay Ash, this Addison, Texas company was declared in 2018 to be the world’s sixth-largest network marketing company. Its distributors, who are called beauty consultants, may be rewarded with a distinctive pink Cadillac if they are among the company’s top sellers.

13. The Frozen Margarita

Mariano Martinez was onto something in 1971 when he modified a soft-serve ice cream machine to mix margarita ingredients. Martinez got the idea after visiting a 7-Eleven with a slushy machine. He decided to invent a margarita that could be pre-mixed, frozen and then served whenever it was wanted. Although vendors of frozen drinks were skeptical, Martinez proved them wrong.

12. Shiner Beer

Brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, it’s difficult to name a more iconic Texas brand name. The brewery was founded in 1909 by Kosmos Spoetzl, a Bavarian immigrant. Spoetzl spread the word about Shiner Beer by leaving free bottles of beer on fence posts to be enjoyed by hardworking farmers. Shiner was eventually distributed to Austin and beyond.

11. The Ruby Red Grapefruit

Like many great inventions, the creation of the first ruby red grapefruit was an accident. Grapefruit trees had been cultivated in southern Texas as early as the late 19th century. Growers were constantly experimenting with new varieties, which led to innovations like the pink grapefruit. One day in 1929, a farmer noticed mutated red grapefruit that was growing on a pink grapefruit tree. The flesh of the fruit not only was red but also far sweeter than existing grapefruit varieties.

10. Selective Laser Sintering, or 3-D Printing

Most people probably think that 3-D printing is an ultra-modern invention. Actually, it has its roots in an invention known at selective laser sintering, which was developed by a University of Texas graduate named Carl Deckard. Deckard was still a student when he began working on his invention.

9. Breast Implants

In the early 1960s, two surgeons in Houston noted that a plastic blood bag felt remarkably like the female breast. From this moment, a revolution in the plastic surgery realm was begun.

8. Nachos at the Stadium

The humble yet tasty stadium nacho has its roots in a 1976 Texas Rangers baseball game. Inventor Frank Liberto was doing some experimentation when he discovered that cheese could be dispensed from a pump after being diluted with jalapeno juice and water. The rest is history.

7. Dell Computers

Most people don’t know that Michael Dell, a student at the University of Texas, started his company when he began selling personal computers from his dorm room. Dell never looked back, and now the company boasts more than 100,000 employees.

6. The Integrated Circuit

Texas Instruments inventor Jack Kilby was hard at work in 1958 when he developed the world’s first integrated circuit. The invention was the precursor to the microchip, which was the innovation that made it possible to shrink computers from room-sized to pocket-sized.

5. Dr. Pepper

One of America’s most popular soda brands had its genesis in 1885 when it was served in a Waco, Texas drugstore. Developed by pharmacist Charles Alderton, the product was taken nationwide in 1904.

4. Topsy Tail

Little girls growing up in the 1990s were wild to wear the inverted ponytail style that was made famous in the animated classic Beauty and the Beast. The Topsy Tail made it possible to do so with ease.

3. Fritos

These curly corn chips were invented by Charles Doolin in 1932. Originating in San Antonio, the little chips were a huge hit in Texas before being brought onto the world stage.

2. Liquid Paper

Bette Graham was working as a typist in Texas during the 1950s when she came up with one of the best inventions ever. Her Liquid Paper could erase mistakes with ease, and it quickly became a lucrative product.

1. Whole Foods Market

Now adored across the country, Whole Foods Market was created in Texas back in 1980. Initially called SaferWay, the small vegetarian food store eventually grew to have hundreds of locations.

Contact Williams IP Law

Are you developing the next great idea to come out of Texas? If so, then you need the guidance of an experienced intellectual property attorney. Contact Williams IP law to learn more about how to protect your creation.

Oil & Gas Patenting Trends and Innovation

The oil and gas industry has always been an innovative one. Over the decades, drilling for natural resources has required ever-more-sophisticated technology to tap into reserves that were unknown or impossible to exploit for earlier generations.

Consequently, the oil and gas industry has always pursued a multitude of patents. While that remains true, the protected technology has certainly evolved. Keeping up with these trends makes it possible for entrepreneurs and organizations to stay on top of the industry and remain competitive.

Patent Filing Trends

Today, most oil and gas industry patents are focused in areas such as:

  • Earth drilling;
  • Geophysics;
  • Metalworking technologies; and
  • Climate change–mitigation technologies

Earth drilling is by far the most frequently used technology in the field. It comes as no surprise then that most industry patents cover some aspect of this technology.

In an interesting trend, as the world emerged from the Great Recession that began in 2008, patent filings increased overall. However, patent applications in the oil and gas industry did not experience quite the same robust growth rate. Moreover, the focus of these patent applications had definitely switched to the areas listed above, with hydraulic fracturing receiving an even greater emphasis.

Patent Innovation for Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, which commonly is referred to as fracking, involves cutting-edge technology in this field. A fracking fluid is pumped into an oil well under extreme pressures. The introduction of the fluid causes underground rock formations to fracture. These fractures stimulate the production of oil and gas.

Fracking techniques may be combined with horitzontal wells to reach previously unobtainable reserves.

Since 2006, oil and gas companies have filed approximately 1,000 patent applications related to fracking technology. The number of filings in this area has steadily increased each year, with the covered technology relating to both the tools and methods that are needed to exploit oil reserves.

Many players in the industry are seeking coverage for other technologies that are related to fracking. These may include systems and tools for monitoring fractures and proppants, finding the best positioning for horizontal drilling operations, controlling the heat resistance of fracking fluids and treating the waste products that are left over from the use of fracking fluid.

Trend in Patent Infringement Cases

As companies in the oil and gas industry have increased the number of patent applications they are filing, the opportunities for infringement have multiplied. Recall that the innovations that are disclosed in a patent application are afforded some level of protection as soon as the application is filed. The U.S. is now a first-to-file country, which means that the first party to file an application for a given technology is regarded as the first to have come up with the idea.

Accordingly, it is possible for patent applicants to begin informing others of their rights whenever they suspect that a competitor is somehow using their proprietary technology. The publication of the patent application, which frequently occurs approximately 18 months after filing, can serve as notice to competitors that they may be infringing.

Key Countries For Oil And Gas Innovation

Research suggests that most oil and gas industry related patents are being filed in the United States, China and Japan. Consequently, it is sensible for inventors or their employers to file patent applications at least in the U.S. to protect their ideas. It also may be worthwhile to consider filing national-phase applications in China, Japan and elsewhere that the technology may be used or infringed upon.

Contact Williams IP Law

The legal professionals at the Williams IP Law have considerable experience in the oil and gas industry. In the course of their practice, they have filed U.S. as well as PCT and national-phase patent applications. Partnerships with other intellectual property attorneys around the world make this a cost-effective and convenient process.

If you have an innovation that you would like to protect with a patent or are concerned that a competitor is infringing your rights in the oil and gas industry then it’s time to schedule a consultation with Jeffrey Williams.

Who Actually Invented the Light Bulb: Edison vs Swan vs Tesla

Ask any child, and he will probably tell you that Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb.

It’s a good story; one that relies on a popular myth of American individualistic invention. However, it’s definitely not the whole story.

In reality, the incandescent light bulb was the result of contributions from hundreds of inventors across the decades. Each one made certain improvements and refinements until, at last, there was an incandescent light bulb that made bringing electricity into the homes of billions of people possible.

Here is a brief look at some of the individuals who contributed to this effort.

Swan’s Light Bulb

Joseph Swan was just one inventor who made improvements in light bulb technology. He was working as a chemist in England in the middle of the nineteenth century when he began development of a more affordable light bulb. His invention replaced the previously used platinum filaments with carbonized paper filaments.

Unfortunately, for Swan, it turned out that while his carbonized paper filaments worked fairly well for demonstration purposes, they were not practical for everyday use. They simply burned out too quickly

The good news is that other inventors were waiting to make improvements to the light bulb.

Edison’s Light Bulb

We’ve already established that light bulbs were in existence even before Edison was born. One of his innovations was built directly on Joseph Swan’s incandescent light bulb.

Edison made the filaments thinner, giving them greater electrical resistance and ensuring that only a small amount of current was needed to create a glow. In 1879, Edison publicly demonstrated his refinements, which Swan quickly adopted. Swan then established an electrical lighting company in the U.K.

Edison sued, but the claims in Swan’s U.K. patent were strong. The two joined forces, forming Edison-Swan United and eventually becoming one of the largest light bulb manufacturers in the world.

In effect, Edison is credited with buying the patent for an incandescent light bulb. With these rights acquired, he was able to make improvements to the design that made it possible to provide electric light to the general public. Moreover, Edison was the consummate self-promoter, which enabled him to claim that he was solely responsible for the development of the light bulb.

Nonetheless, Edison was confronted with the massive problem of actually bringing electricity into American homes.

Tesla, the Light Bulb and Electric Current

Nikola Tesla was born in Europe in 1856. He emigrated to the U.S., where Edison sought him out in hopes of working together. Tesla helped bring new innovations to Edison’s inventions, but their working relationship didn’t last for long.

It appears that the two men disagreed on any number of topics. However, their most famous point of disagreement related to electric current. Edison was wholeheartedly behind the idea that direct current, or DC, was the way to bring electricity into homes.

Tesla believed that DC was insufficient and weak. Instead, he advocated for alternating current, or AC. With his invented induction motor, Tesla felt that it was possible sustain and regulate higher voltages using AC.

Edison and Tesla became embroiled in a nasty fight to prove the worthiness of their theories. In the end, it was Tesla who would triumph, and his AC system would be used to electrify America.

Conclusion

So, who actually invented the light bulb? The reality is that today’s light bulb is the result of countless hours of testing, trial and error by hundreds of different inventors over the course of more than 100 years.

Whether your invention is as revolutionary and necessary as the light bulb or has limited application within a particular industry, your innovation is worth protecting. Speak with an attorney from Williams IP Law to learn about all of the options that are available to you.

Inventions to Survive a Hurricane


Neccessity is the mother of invention

We are in full swing on another hurricane season and 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.

Step 1 – 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.


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.

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.



Light

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.


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.



Food

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!

Free Consultation

Author: Jeff Williams

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.

Jeff received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2005. He was an engineer for a number of years at a number of large corporations before pursuing his law degree. He graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan University School of Law) with a J.D. in 2010. By combining his education and prior work experience into the field of intellectual property law, Jeff has developed key skills to fully assist clients.

7 Common Sense Inventions

Products that Should Have Been Invented a Long Time Ago

Remember when you were younger and your mom would lose her keys (or her purse, or her wallet, or her kids) and you wondered why there wasn’t an invention out there to make it easier to locate these often lost items? Well, lucky for you while most of us are living in 2019, we have some brilliant inventors living in 2019 supplying us with those common sense inventions that really should have been invented a long time ago.

Rotatable Bench

We have all experienced that earth-shattering, soul-crushing, frustration-igniting moment when you’ve just ran 5-miles (or at least it feels like you’ve chased your two-year-old for 5-miles) and you excitedly walk to a bench ready for a quick-breather only to see that it is soaking wet, or even worse, you only find out after you’ve been sitting on it for 6.7 seconds. No more standing when there is a wet bench right next to you. This rotatable bench allows you to cleverly roll the seat with a nifty lever, making it perfectly safe to sit on without getting your yoga pants wet.

Color-detecting Pen

Have you ever been doodling your next masterpiece on a scrap of paper and remember how much you love that dark maroon dress your mother wore at your 21st birthday party and just wished you had that same shade to finish your drawing? With this color-detecting pen you can have all the shades of the universe at your fingertips, or the tip of your pen. Next time you’re at your mother’s house, or you see a bright, green leaf calling your name, just scan the object with your Scribble pen and doodle away. Even greater, the color-detecting pen stores previously scanned colors so you can re-use that burnt orange color from your trip to the Grand Canyon.

Drop Rest: Smart Coffee Mug

You’ve just printed the final copy of your dissertation. You grab a cup of coffee to sip on while you take one last look through your thesis, and as you’re stirring your creamer into your coffee one, single drop of coffee starts dripping down the side of the mug, making its way to your pristine paper. Everything is going in slow motion as you watch your page get ruined in a second. If only you had this smart coffee mug to save you from such a tragic fate. The Drop Rest mug catches drips in a thin groove around the mug, ensuring they never make it to your paper or table. Never worry about coffee stains again!

Transparent Hole Punch & Laser Scissors

Do you ever have to quickly hole punch a stack of important documents, but struggle to ensure the holes are lined up every single time? Do your kids ever need help cutting pictures for their school project and you fret about looking like a horrible parent when it comes out all raggedy? With the Transparent Punch you can see exactly where you are punching a hole in the paper, saving you from making mistakes and looking like an amatuer hole-puncher. The Laser Scissors help you cut in a straight line every time. Just follow the red ring or the red line and all your projects will look professionally done.

Some inventions are so common sense, that we can’t believe they were only just invented. Gone are the days were we have to face coffee-stained memos and crookedly lined hole punches. We are in a new era where perfection is key, obscure colors are attainable, and bottoms stay dry. Here’s to experiencing 3019 in 2019!

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Author: Jeff Williams

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.

Jeff received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2005. He was an engineer for a number of years at a number of large corporations before pursuing his law degree. He graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan University School of Law) with a J.D. in 2010. By combining his education and prior work experience into the field of intellectual property law, Jeff has developed key skills to fully assist clients.