As we all may have noticed at some point there is a list of references cited adorning the face of every US patent. Utilizing these lists of references cited, patents can be connected to other patents through the references cited on their own face, as well as the instances where the patent is cited on a subsequent patent’s face. By connecting patents in this manner a network begins to form and begs the question: How many steps would it take to connect any patent with any other patent?
So, starting with any patent where would we find ourselves after 6 steps through the references cited network? Today we re-heat the patent network with the revolutionary, time saving microwave oven.
Start: US 2,495,429 A, a Raytheon employee named Percy Spencer accidentally discovered a new “method of treating foodstuffs” while testing magnetrons in 1945
First Degree: US 7,493,362 B2, a programmable rapid cooking oven with broadband communication capability
Second Degree: US 6,502,411 B2, a remote device for inspecting the operating state of a refrigerator
Third Degree: US 6,882,280 B2, a refrigerator adapted for playing and recording voice messages
Fourth Degree: US 6,249,765 B1, a system and method for extracting key information from digitized audio messages
Fifth Degree: US 5,844,824 A, a body-worn, hands-free computer system
Sixth Degree: US 7,083,571 B2, a medical robot for performing minimally invasive cardiac procedures
So there you have it, in 6 steps you can connect an appliance that heats up artery clogging food and a robot that performs heart surgery. While this journey represents one connection path for the microwave oven patent, feel free to follow your own path of patent connection intrigue and share it in the comments section below. Have a suggestion for an inventor or invention you would like to see in the Six Degrees post? Share that in the comments too!