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 might as well jump into the patent network with rock mainstay Eddie Van Halen.
Six Degrees of Eddie Van Halen
Start: US 4,656,917 A, Eddie Van Halen’s musical instrument support which leaves “both hands free to explore the musical instrument as never before”
First Degree: US 4,213,369 A, a lapboard for an Appalachian dulcimer with spring loaded flap members to prevent movement on the user’s leg
Second Degree: US 6,015,121 A, a collapsible stand for supporting a musical instrument
Third Degree: US 2,74,3499 A, an enameling stand for holding a work piece during a firing operation in a kiln
Fourth Degree: US 4,397,895 A, a Christmas tree display stand
Fifth Degree: US 1,823,608 A, a holder for hams that facilitates slicing
Sixth Degree: US 2,673,058 A, an electric can opener
So there you have it, in 6 steps you can connect a revolutionary way to play guitar with a revolutionary way to open cans. While this journey represents one connection path for the Van Halen 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!