(Smithsonian mag) The Smithsonian’s Innovation Festival Demystifies the Invention Process

Innovation Festival

Innovation Festival. Photo: Menachem Wecker

My article “The Smithsonian’s Innovation Festival Demystifies the Invention Process” appears in Smithsonian magazine.

Here’s the lede:

When Matt Carroll answered the phone earlier this year and learned a patent had come through for his invention, WiperFill, he didn’t believe the caller. “I thought it was a friend messing around with me,” he said. “I thought it was just someone playing a joke.”

Carroll’s product, which collects rainwater from windshields to replenish cars’ wiper fluid reservoirs without relying on power, sensors or pumps, was one of more than a dozen showcased at the Smithsonian’s Innovation Festival, organized with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at the National Museum of American History this past weekend.

The patent that Carroll received in April was the 9 millionth that the USPTO issued. “They called me and said, ‘Hey. You’re patent number 9 million.’ I said, ‘9 million and what?’ They said, ‘No, 9 million,’” Carroll said, admitting he didn’t initially appreciate the significance of the elite club of milestone million patent holders which he was now a member.

“Joining the ranks of an auto tire and ethanol and all these different really awesome patents, it’s really special,” he said.

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