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 moonwalk through the patent network with an invention credited to The King of Pop himself.
Start: US 5,255,452 A, Michael Jackson’s system for creating the cool effect where the person can lean past their center of gravity
First Degree: US 5,498,161 A, an anti-G simulation suit for simulating maneuvers carried out by fighter pilots in jet aircraft
Second Degree: US 3,983,640 A, a seat for flight simulators
Third Degree: US 5,403,238 A, a dynamic ride vehicle for an amusement park ride owned by Disney
Fourth Degree: US 7,857,704 B2, a combination gambling facility and water amusement ride (yes, you read that correctly)
Fifth Degree: US 6,747,562 B2, a tag for tracking the location of an individual
Sixth Degree: US 7,554,442 B2, a system for monitoring containers of hazardous material
So there you have it, in 6 steps you can connect Michael Jackson’s special shoes for bending the laws of physics and a system for monitoring train cars full of toxic sludge. While this journey represents one connection path for the Jackson 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!