After four years of working on my Number Linx® puzzle, I am excited to announce that I have been issued the US patent for Polygon Puzzle and Related Methods (Patent No. 9403084). It appears to be the first utility patent issued for a puzzle in 20 years!
Why isn’t the name of my puzzle in my patent? The answer lies in the fact that there are multiple kinds of patent. In the past, I have received a design patent (Patent No. D737905) on Number Linx and our number characters, 0-9. According to the US Patent Office, a design patent is for a specific product. Design patents are “Issued for a new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design.” On August 2nd, however, I received my first utility patent; it protects my concept, no matter its configuration. A utility patent is “Issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing” (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/patdesc.htm).
Patents are public information for anyone to see; they can be found online or at the US Patent Office in Washington, DC. They are long though, this one is 13 pages of legal language with lots of drawings to illustrate exactly what is being protected.
To obtain my patent, I had to prove to the US Patent Office that there had never been a puzzle like it, with a polygon for each number made up of a varying number of polygons with the same number of sides. I began that long process almost exactly two and a half years ago.
In 2012, Graham Campbell cut the first prototype of Number Linx and we presented it together at the Chicago Toy Fair. When I finally began the patent application process in 2014 I had to demonstrate each part of Number Linx and explain how the puzzle is innovative. Listening in to many calls with patent examiner Steven Wong, I guided my lawyer in how to best present my puzzle and its unique features. All that work came to fruition when my patent was issued on August 2nd, 2016. That means my idea is protected, and no one else can make or sell a puzzle or something similar to Number Linx/Puzzling Polygons or the cards.
What good news after so much hard work – NumbersAlive! celebrated with some yummy cake!