Intellectual Property of the Fourth of July

Published on Jun 30, 2016

What's the engineering story behind products like the SuperSoaker, Weber Genesis grills, the Zup wakeboard and DisneyLand's amazing fireworks?

Everything we use, eat, drink, and play with on the Fourth of July was invented by someone. We're celebrating these creative thinkers and tinkerers and their inventions by connecting the intellectual property (patents and trademarks) with products that make Independence Day so special with friends and family.

From Lonnie Johnson and Paul Brown, to pyrotechnic pioneers and three brothers dismayed with barbecue hygiene, the IP of the Fourth of July will help you appreciate the holiday a little more.


Intellectual Property of the Fourth of July

Patents & trademarks that help us celebrate Independence Day
Photo by sureshkumarv

Presented by:

What would the Fourth of July be like without grills, squirt guns, hot dogs, popsicles and apple pie?
Pretty boring.

We’d like to celebrate some of the toys, tools, equipment and food that are such an important part of what we do, eat and enjoy on the Fourth of July.

Photo by nanaze

Fun Patents

High-Pressure Fun for All Ages

  • Introduced in 1990
  • Sales close to $1 billion
  • #91 on TIME 100 All-Time Great Toys list
Photo by misterbisson

Squirt Gun
Patent Number: US 4591071
Granted: May 27, 1986

Invented by a real rocket scientist, the SuperSoaker is more than “a toy squirt gun which shoots a continuous high velocity stream of water.”

“There are maybe three inventions I have that I rank as my top inventions that I'm most proud of. The robot I built in high school, the memory-protected circuitry for the Galileo and the Super Soaker.”
- Lonnie Johnson

Designed for: "individuals who could not ordinarily partake in the activity of towed water boarding”

Water recreation device
Patent Number: US US8292681B2
Oct. 23, 2012

The inventors were right!

“We had 10 people go with us, and all 10 stood up, and it was cool to see the look of triumph and fun all wrapped up in one instant.”
- Customer review on

The Zup™ Wakeboard

  • Introduced in 2013
  • Sold by Overton's, world's largest watersports retailer
  • Became best-selling product in Overton's history same year
Photo by humbletree

Stringer-less surfboards promise:

  • Greater customization options
  • Lower wear rates
  • Longer service life
  • A greater chance your board won't end up like these

Surfing Device
Patent Number: US 7261050B2
Granted: Aug. 28, 2007

The foundation of

Bufo and Hydroflex surfing brands

Video: Bufo Brauers explains Hydroflex Technology

Link to Video:

So summers can be

a little more endless

In 1952,

Jack O'Neill opened one of California's first surf shops.

A surfing pioneer:

  • Sold early versions of wetsuits
  • Considered the inventor of the wetsuit
  • His company, O'Neill, is the best-selling wetsuit brand in the world
  • It has never stopped innovating

Neck entry wetsuit
Patent Number: US 5898934
Granted: May 4, 1999

Marketed as the

Z.E.N. ZIP Entry System

“The Psycho's best trick, though, is the Z.E.N. back zip closure, which uses an internal layer that pulls over the head to channel away any water that manages to get inside the super-short zipper and Double Super Seal neck. Drain holes along the bottom of the Barrier 2 let the water drain out of the suit, so it never actually gets to your skin, where it can suck away heat.”

Equipment Patents

The Weber-Stephen Products Co.

  • Introduced charcoal kettle in 1952
  • Assignee of >270 patents

Grease drip pan and gas tank blocker for a barbecue grill

Patent Number: US 8347874 B2   Granted: Jan. 8, 2013

“...the inventions disclosed herein relate to frame assemblies for gas barbecue grills which incorporate structures for preventing a consumer from storing replacement fuel tanks on the grill, in order to minimize fire and tipping hazards.”

US patent 8347874 advances product safety

of Weber’s Genesis grill line

Barbecues and grills, even Weber's, get filthy fast

Ever met anyone

who actually enjoyed cleaning one? (Other than this couple)

BBQ grill scraper
Patent Number: US 8741068 B2
Granted: June 3, 2014

The Great Scrape®

  • Modestly billed as "The Ultimate BBQ Cleaning Tool."
  • The Woody Paddle, largest of three models, sells for $34.95.
  • Available on

Will party guests need to recharge their iPads and smartphones while eating?

Solar powered umbrella table
Patent Number: US 20110265694
Granted: Nov. 11, 2011

Renewable Barbecue Energy

  • Outdoor table converts solar energy into DC voltage
  • Includes electrical outlets installed directly on table
  • Moisture detector detects unsafe levels and turns off electricity

Patents & Food

In the early 1990s, inventor Paul Brown struggled to figure out how to transform liquid silicon into flexible, one-piece precision valves.

He succeeded

Photo by dinnercraft

Dispensing valve with trampoline-like construction
Patent Number: US 4991745 A
Granted: Feb. 12, 1992

Brown licensed his invention to Heinz, which replaced this with that - the upside-down ketchup bottle

What's more American than apple pie?

An apple pie

made with apples patented by the Univ. of Minnesota
Photo by Perfectance

Apple tree: Honeycrisp
Patent Number: US PP7197 P
Granted: March 20, 1990

Money Does Grow on Trees

  • Patent protects “one of the five all-time highest-earning inventions at the university”
  • Before 2008 expiration, school received $1.30 for every Honeycrisp tree sold by approved growers.
  • University continues to own Honeycrisp trademark

Untitled Slide

In 1905, Frank Epperson left a syrupy drink containing a stir stick outside on a cold night in Alameda, CA

In 1923, he partnered with Loew Movie Company employees on his idea

Frozen confectionery
Patent Number: US 1505592 A
Granted: Aug. 19, 1924

became part of summer

The Popsicle

In case you were wondering:

"POPSICLE® is a registered trademark of Unilever and is NOT a name for just any frozen pop on a stick."

It is part of Unilever's SICLE™ Trademark Family

Patents for Celebrating

Yes, you can patent fireworks.
Disney did it!

Fireworks projectile having combustible shell
Patent Number: US 5526750 A
Granted: June 18, 1996


  • Zambelli, the First Family of Fireworks
  • Pyrotecnico Vitale Family Fireworks - 1889
  • Both companies are from New Castle, PA, which is officially

the “Fireworks Capital of America”
due to a 2006 trademark grant

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