A PITTSBURGH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY HALL OF FAME: PATENTS
Included: processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter – things that may be patented, per Section 101 of the United States Patent Act.
Not included: “things that appeared first” in Pittsburgh, such as the motion picture theater, the gas station, and broadcast radio station, or “things that were allegedly invented in Pittsburgh,” but were not patented by Pittsburghers, such as the Ferris wheel. The first steel “Ferris wheel” was built in Chicago by a Pittsburgh resident, George Ferris, but it was not patented by him. A New Jerseyan, William Somers, obtained a patent in January 1893 for a vertically-mounted “roundabout.”
Dr. Eric Beckman and Dr. Jason Smith invented a biodegradable adhesive now marketed as TissuGlu. They received U.S. Patent No. 8,182,647 in 2012.
George Blaisdell and George Gimera received U.S. Patent No. 2,032,695 for a “pocket lighter” in 1936 and assigned it to the Zippo Manufacturing Co. in Bradford, PA.
Dr. Jonas Salk invented the modern polio vaccine in Pittsburgh in 1955, working at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Asked whether he would seek a patent on his invention, Dr. Salk replied, “Could you patent the sun?” A prior art search had already revealed that Dr. Salk’s invention was unpatentable.
George Westinghouse‘s automatic air brake revolutionized the railroad industry. U.S. Patent No. 88,929 disclosed the first compressed air brake. His first automatic air brake patent was U.S. Patent No. 124,405 (1872). U.S. Patent No. 360,070 (1887) disclosed the transformative “triple valve” system.