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Kentucky Innovation and Invention: Impact in the Commonwealth

As stated in the Proclamation of National Inventors' Day in 1983, "Inventors are the keystone of the technological progress that is so vital to the economic, environmental, and social well-being of this country." Since soon after the enactment of a patent statute, Kentuckians, through birth or residency, have been contributing to the patent system. Learn more about several of them below.

Charlotte W. Allen

C. Allen's Patented Iron Holder
C. Allen's Patented Iron Holder

Charlotte W. Allen was an early Kentucky inventor from Newport, KY. Allen sought to provide greater safety and convenience for others. That is what her invention provided. A problem faced using cast iron tools is the weight of such tools; their nature leads to potential property harm or bodily harm.

In the 1800s, terminology referred to the weight of cast iron as ‘sad;’ however, in the written description, the invention is called a “smoothing iron-stand.” U.S. Patent No. 62,800. Allen is accredited as the first female inventor in Kentucky. She was a trailblazer for all women in the United States since “only 72 U.S. patents were credited to women inventors between 1790 and 1859.

Her invention predates the USPTO publishing patents, though it is now published. While it may seem obvious by 2024 standards, the invention was patented in 1867. Allen secured the 62,800th patent to issue in the United States in the current patent system; as of February 1, 2024, over 20,200,000 patents have been issued in the United States, and that number is only growing larger.

The timeline for applying for a patent and receiving an issued patent can take 1-3 years. The 11 millionth patent did not issue until after 2021; at the rate at which technology advances, it is pertinent for all to be aware of potential hindsight bias and overcome this difficult hurdle. It also offers innovators many challenges in securing inventive works and proper intellectual property protection. When Allen secured her patent, the U.S. followed the first to invent method, which led to many disputes over inventorship called interference proceedings. However, the U.S. currently follows a first-to-file system. Due to the change, filing with the USPTO as soon as possible is generally recommended to prevent losing property rights to another.

Nathan B. Stubblefield

Garrett A. Morgan

Margaret Ingels

George Samuel Hurst

Unbridled Spirit of Innovation

The global momentum for innovation is at an all-time high; Kentucky is on track to produce more innovation than we have seen. While patents are not the only sign of successful innovation, the data suggests a positive trend of innovation and investment in Kentucky, implied from 259 granted patents originating in Kentucky in 1992 to 776 in 2020. The Commonwealth is invested in the innovative ecosystem that has bloomed in the Bluegrass. Kentucky is positioned ideally for entrepreneurs wishing to profit off interstate commerce, bordering seven other states and “Kentucky is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population.” The outlook for inventions originating in Kentucky is only expected to rise. If you are not already a member of the Kentucky Intellectual Property Alliance (KYIPA), membership is free, and you will be knowledgeable on upcoming networking and educational events throughout the Bluegrass to bring innovators, entrepreneurs, and other professionals together.

U.S. Granted Patents: Utility Patents Originating in Kentucky
U.S. Granted Patents: Utility Patents Originating in Kentucky


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