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Kiss Me, My Innovation’s Irish
On St. Patrick’s Day, millions of people gather together to observe the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. While 1 million people flock to Dublin each year for Ireland’s official festival, St. Patrick’s Day is a truly global affair: Across the United States, cities and towns host altogether more than 100 parades, and massive celebrations take place everywhere from Canada and Australia to Japan, Singapore, and Russia. Each celebration is unique.
For us, St. Patrick’s Day means celebrating the creators and inventors who rely on much more than Irish luck to deliver life-changing products and services. Creators and inventors rely on strong IP protections as a safeguard for a fair return on their investments in research and development. In other words, if an innovator is willing to trek to the end of the rainbow, they can claim right to the pot of gold they may find.
We’ve selected some of our favorite St. Patty’s-themed innovations to share with you ahead of Saturday.
On St. Patrick’s Day, you might start your morning with a traditional Irish breakfast – or you might start your morning with a bowl of Lucky Charms. Lucky Charms’ cheery leprechaun mascot, Lucky, and the catchy “they’re magically delicious” slogan are both registered trademarks. Less known in Lucky Charms’ IP portfolio? A variety of patents.
Food scientists worked hard to create those melt-in-your-mouth multicolored marshmallows, known technically as marbits. Three different patents – U.S. patent number 6,207,216, U.S. patent number 6,309,686, and U.S. patent number 6,436,455 – explain and protect the chemistry and engineering behind the marbits. Talk about complex cereal box reading.
Whether you’re walking in a parade or just walking to the pub, you’ll want comfortable shoes this St. Patrick’s Day. Irishman Humphrey O’Sullivan craved a comfortable shoe, suffering from sore feet at the end of each work day. After seeking relief by standing on rubber mats, O’Sullivan set about designing a rubber-soled shoe. O’Sullivan patented his idea in 1899.
Guinness beer is one of Ireland’s largest exports. One study shows about 13 million pints of Guinness are expected to be drunk on St. Patrick’s Day. The famous Guinness harp – used on the first label on the first bottle of Guinness in 1862 – was registered as a trademark in 1876.
Just as consumers can spot the iconic Guinness harp, bartenders can spot a true Irish bartender: There’s a certain genius behind a Guinness pour. For those bartenders who haven’t quite mastered the pour or who don’t have Guinness on tap, Guinness patented a widget – a hollow, spherical piece of plastic with a tiny hole in it. The widget is added to a Guinness can during the canning process, and forces a burst of tiny bubbles of nitrogen gas to the top of the beer, giving it the head you’d get fresh from the tap. We’ll cheers to that!
Before Irishman Samuel O’Reilly patented his tattoo machine, tattooing was done completely by hand. It was a long, painful process. O’Reilly sought to create a more efficient method – rather than the artist moving his or her hand up and down, a hand-held machine would move the needles automatically. O’Reilly filed a patent for his idea in 1891, and the modern tattoo machine was born.
These innovations are just a few four-leaf clovers in an endless patch. We’re thankful for the millions of hardworking creators and innovators who work hard to bring ideas to life and make our world a better place. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Courtney Paul is the manager of communications for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center.