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(Message started by: BTP on Feb 23rd, 2006, 5:23pm)

Title: Patent 7,000,000 assigned out of sequence!
Post by BTP on Feb 23rd, 2006, 5:23pm
On Valentines Day, we noted the issuance of the seven millionth in the current series of United States utility patents. DuPont was issued United States Patent 7,000,000 for an employee's innovation in the manufacture of polysaccharaide fibers. Speaking as a chemist by academic training, I have no issue with the ingenuity of the named inventor or the utility of the invention.

But should DuPont have received this particular catchy patent number, tailor made for a press release? A glimpse at the online Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office suggests not.

The USPTO issues utility patents every Tuesday. Numbers are sequentially assigned. Each invention falls in one of three broad fields: general and mechanical, chemical, and electrical. Within each broad field, inventions are separated into classes and subclasses, each of which carries a numeric designation. Once all the inventions ready for issuance are ordered by numeric class and subclass, patent numbers are assigned sequentially, first to the wee's general and mechanical inventions, next to the chemical inventions, and finally to the electrical inventions.

A typical assignment is shown in this week's (2/21) edition of the Gazette. General and Mechanical inventions are ordered by class and subclass and assigned numbers 7,000,251 through 7,001,434. Chemical inventions are similarly ordered and assigned numbers 7,001,435 through 7,002,464. Finally, Electrical inventions are similarly ordered and assigned numbers 7,002,465 through 7,003,800.

Boring, right? Usually something only a patent lawyer or agent would notice. But check out the list of Electrical patents from February 14, the relevant portion of which is shown in full below:

http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week07/OG/ElecUtility.htm

Class Subclass Patent
709 215 6,999,999
217 7,000,001

Something missing? Well, yeah, a rather big milestone number. Where does one find it? At the tail end of the list of Chemical patents:

http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week07/OG/ChemUtility.htm

Class Subclass Patent
800 314 6,998,519
  6,998,520
6,998,521
536 123.12 7,000,000

Simply put, the catchy milestone number was assigned out of sequence. One is left to wonder why. (I have my theory, but I don't want to start the inevitable political fight.)

Title: Re: Patent 7,000,000 assigned out of sequence!
Post by Jonathan on Feb 23rd, 2006, 6:56pm

It obviously has something to do with that Middle East country taking over management of several eastern ports.

Title: Re: Patent 7,000,000 assigned out of sequence!
Post by Isaac on Feb 24th, 2006, 7:31am
I have to admit to enjoying conspiracy theories.   Unfortunately, I can think of some reasonably non-political reasons why the PTO might want to cherry pick the patent to which 7000000 would be assigned, and until I can rule those out, I'm going to stick with worrying about black helicopters and grassy knolls.

Title: Re: Patent 7,000,000 assigned out of sequence!
Post by sagimore on Mar 1st, 2006, 12:03pm

This invention pertains to novel fibers made of α (1→;3) polysaccharides, and a process for their production. The fibers of the invention have "cotton-like" properties but can be produced as continuous filaments on a year-round basis. The fibers are useful in textile applications.



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