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Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart PLLC
Newsletter – Volume 23, Issue 4

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Which U.S. President Received a Patent?

By Doug P. LaLone

On February 20th we celebrate Presidents’ Day. In honor of the holiday, we wanted to celebrate the only U.S. President to receive a patent. 

Born a Kentuckian, he later moved to Indiana before settling in Illinois. He captained a group of militia volunteers in 1832 that were created to subdue the Black Hawk Indian tribe during the Black Hawk War. He and a business partner later purchased a general store in New Salem, Illinois, which failed due to decreasing population and competition from two other general stores. In May 1833, he secured a three-year appointment from President Andrew Jackson as the postmaster of New Salem earning $55.70 in 1833. To supplement this income, he took appointment as the assistant county surveyor. He had no experience at surveying, but he relied on borrowed copies of two books, teaching himself the practical techniques and its trigonometric basis. His political career was launched and in 1834 he was elected to the Illinois state legislature and was reelected in 1836, 1838, and 1840.

His skill in self-teaching using borrowed books continued in 1835 to a new discipline in his study of law using texts a law firm loaned to him. He did not attend law school and was noted as stating: “I studied with nobody.” In February 1836, he stopped working as a surveyor, and in March 1836, he took an oral exam before a panel of attorneys and received his law license in September 1836. In April 1837, he was enrolled to practice before the Supreme Court of Illinois, and moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he went into partnership with the law firm that lent him the books to study law. He was a self-taught, curious man that came from humble beginnings.

As a young man, he took a boatload of merchandise down the Mississippi River from New Salem to New Orleans. In later years, while traveling on the Great Lakes, his ship ran afoul of a sandbar. It was then the invention protected by U.S. Patent No. 6469 was conceived for “A Device for Buoying Vessels Over Shoals.” The patent application was filed and issued in 1849. 

                                Drawings From U.S. Patent No. 6469

The invention consists of a set of bellows attached to the hull of a ship just below the water line. On reaching a shallow place, the bellows are filled with air and the vessel, thus buoyed, is expected to float clear of shallow waters.  

If you haven’t guessed yet, we’ll give you one more chance. The prize? One penny.
Our mystery president is Abraham Lincoln. In 1861, President Lincoln became the United States’ 16th President, and he led the country through the Civil War from April 12, 1861, to April 9, 1865. He was assassinated just one month before the war was over.

President Lincoln himself whittled a model of his invention for his patent application. It is on display today at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. In 1858, Lincoln called the introduction of patent laws one of the three most important developments “in the world’s history.” His words, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius,” are inscribed over the U.S. Commerce Department’s North entrance.  

On this day, we celebrate Abraham Lincoln as the only U.S. president to receive a U.S. Patent. 

Doug LaLone is an engineer, patent attorney, and partner at Fishman Stewart. He also serves as chair of the firm’s Strategic IP Practice Group which counsels portfolio companies, PE, VC and IB firms on intellectual property strategies, due diligence and portfolio management.

Fishman Stewart spotlights its client Q5 Experience
for obtaining trademark registrations for its Q5 and Q5
Experience brands.

The Q5 team are Business Succession Advisors focused on helping business owners prepare themselves and their businesses for sale by assisting them in building transferable value through a proprietary, detailed, 5-Step process.

The Q5 Experience team of collaborators has created a process, that when followed, helps business owners and their leadership teams better understand the tools and concepts needed to build additional transferable value in their company. As a result, when it comes time to sell, owners experience their desired outcomes and leave the business on their own terms. The Q5 team can be reached at

Q5’s marketing director Matt Dery recently interviewed Fishman Stewart’s partner Doug LaLone on the Q5 Succession Success podcast show. They discussed the importance of IP for business owners, the various Intellectual Property tools available and how deploying those tools effectively enhances enterprise value.


If your cryptocurrency portfolio is not doing so hot, maybe our beloved Finny can help. Finny is available as free swag from the Fishman Stewart website here. But indications from the resale market are that Finny owners can net upwards of $11.99 on the secondary megamarket website, eBay.

No, this post is not a good source of investment wisdom, and we are not suggesting investors cast their nets for deep sea Finnies. But Finny has now traveled into the stream of commerce, in addition to his recent foray into the digital blockchain universe.

Subscribe to our newsletter or follow @followfinny on Instagram to see where else you can travel in Sir Finnegan’s wake!

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