The Fourth of July is right around the corner.  As you prepare for your annual Fourth of July festivities, you might be surprised that intellectual property is deeply intertwined with the holiday, from firework displays to popular summer snack options.

Sparklers

When the sun starts to set it’s the perfect time to break out the sparklers. While many credit Greek architect Callinicos of Heliopolis with the invention he called “cheirosiphon”, the sparkler as we know it is believed to have been designed in Germany in the 1850s and was called the wunderkerzen. This archaic firework was a piece of wire that was dipped in a concoction of gunpowder and iron.

One of the first patents on record for a sparkler was granted to F.J. Welter of Hamburg, Germany on January 26, 1909, as U. S. Patent No. 910,755. This sparkler was designed for the sparks to discharge “laterally from the candle and while falling freely burn or glow with a light agreeably differentiated from the luminous effects of the candle itself.”

Fireworks Display

One of the joys of the Fourth is getting to sit back and watch others put on a great show. There are many different ways people put together fireworks displays. One method is a complex system with fuses connected to a computer system, while another method, a not as safe method, a lot of people ignite them at the same time. Attilio Piccolin designed “Firework Launching Platform Apparatus” U.S. Patent No. 8,118,157 as a support device to safely and strategically place and set off fireworks. This technology includes a panel with multiple spaces and openings where fireworks are securely placed based on their size and shape. Each of the spaces is linked to a fuse channel that can be lit by the user’s preference. This allows the user and viewers to enjoy the fireworks display with minimal risk of injury by fireworks tipping over, etc.

Firework Safety

Fireworks are fun and beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 18,500 fires are caused by fireworks annually. In 2017, U.S. hospitals treated an estimated 12,900 individuals for fireworks-related injuries. Of that number, 36% of the injured were children under the age of 15.

One solution designed to protect those lighting fireworks is “Firecracker Holder” U.S. Patent No. 2,234,864. Albert Jackson’s invention is designed to hold firecrackers. It is “adapted to protect a person from injury while the firecracker is being ignited and exploded.” Another patent for safe handling of fireworks is “Shielded Fireworks Holder” U.S. Patent No. 2,268,213. This invention has a handle, different size holders for the firework, and a shield to cover the hand so the sparks cannot get to the skin. This is ideal for sparklers and roman candles.

Popsicles

Not all inventions are from adults! In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson mixed powdered soda and water together. He left the container outside on a cold night and the mixture froze. Luckily, the stir stick was still inside. Epperson named the cool treat the “Epsicle” and began to make them for his friends. 18 years later, he started selling them as “The Frozen Drink on a Stick”. He applied for, and was granted, a patent on his frozen treat, “Frozen Confectionery” U.S. Patent No. 1,505,592.

Epperson made the frozen treat for his children who referred to them as “pop’s ‘sicle” leading to the permanent name change, Popsicles®. In 1925, Epperson sold the rights to his creation to the Joe Lowe Company in New York and they distributed the popsicles all over the country.

During World War II, Popsicles became so popular that the Eighth Air Force Unit chose Popsicles as the symbol of American life. In 1989, Unilever bought the rights to Popsicle and they actively police their trademark. Today, two billion popsicles are sold annually.

S’mores

S’mores are a classic American campfire dessert. The first known recipe for a toasted marshmallow, chocolate bar, and graham cracker appeared in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts in 1927 with the name “some mores”. Another version of this dessert comes from Mallomars® which is a graham cracker cookie topped with a marshmallow and coated with chocolate. It was first manufactured by Nabisco® and debuted in New Jersey in 1913. Moon Pie®, another similar version, is a pair of graham cracker cookies with a marshmallow filling dipped in chocolate, it was first sold in Tennessee in 1917.

There are a number of different patents on s’mores, from pre-packaged kits and s’more holders to a method of making s’mores. One example, U.S. Patent No. 8,156,859, involves a “Machine and Method for Making Smores.”  This invention toasts the marshmallow with an internal heat source and uses a rotator that heats the marshmallow and chocolate providing a safe alternative to an open flame.

With many different ways to enjoy the day, remember, many of the most cherished 4th of July happenings would not be possible without innovation. Suiter Swantz IP wishes you and your families a safe and happy holiday.

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patenttrademark, or copyright matters would like to speak with one of our patent attorneys please contact us.