Quiz on patents

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on May 22, 2021

Come Josephine: The Wright Brothers earned a patent for their ‘Flying-Machine’ in 1906   -  ISTOCK.COM

On this day in 1906, the Wright Brothers were granted US patent number 821,393 for their ‘Flying-Machine’. This week’s quiz is about patents and inventions

Life savers

1 Which actress — the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh — received US Patent 4,753,647 for a disposable baby diaper with small pockets that contained clean-up wipes?

2 Daisuke Inoue was a Japanese drummer in a band that played in a bar where customers often joined in during a performance. What did he invent in 1971 to make his life easier but neglected to patent?

3 Which performer jointly holds a patent ‘for allowing a shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his centre of gravity by virtue of wearing a specially designed pair of shoes which will engage with a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface’?

4 Born in Odisha’s Titlagarh town and given the first name Satyan, this inventor is regarded as one of the pioneers of hand-held computing and has many patents — including one for an electronic diary in the ’70s. Name this Indian, who returned to his motherland in the ’80s to help start India’s IT revolution.

5 In 1827, John Walker invented something by coating wooden splints with sulphur and an application of sulphide of antimony, potash and gum and sold his product for a shilling each. Though encouraged by Michael Faraday and other leading scientists of the time, he never patented his invention and didn’t make much money out of his product. What did Walker invent?

6 In 1935, during the depression, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued US Patent No 2,026,082 for which product created by an unemployed salesman named Charles Darrow?

7 In 1849, desperate to pay a US$15 debt he owed a friend and to buy some food for his family, American mechanic Walter Hunt invented something in just three hours. He sold it to WR Grace & Company for US$ 400. Name his invention, which made millions of dollars for the company before the patent expired.

8 What did Swiss inventor George de Mestral invent after a walk in the woods while he was trying to remove cockleburs from his clothes and his dog?

9 Spencer Silver invented this in 1968 and it got its distinctive colour from the colour of the scraps they used from the lab next door. It was originally called ‘Press n Peel’. Which invention is this, almost universally used?

10 Which US president actually held a patent, US Patent 6469, for a method for buoying vessels over shoals, to be mainly used for salvaging underwater objects?


1 Jaime Lee Curtis.

2 The Karaoke Machine. His Juke 8 had an 8-track tape player, a mic and a coin slot. Soon karaoke machines were a rage in Japan and then around the world.

3 Michael Jackson. These were the shoes used for his legendary ‘Moonwalk’.

4 Sam Pitroda.

5 Friction matches. He sold the first match boxes, though modern safety matches were invented much later.

6 Monopoly. He chose to patent it himself after his game was rejected by Parker Brothers.

7 The safety pin. He designed the clasp to shield the sharp edge so that the product could be used around children.

8 Velcro — after he looked at the plants under a microscope and saw the tiny hooks on its surface.

9 Post-it Notes or sticky notes.

10 Abraham Lincoln. He was a lawyer at the time and often worked with transportation cases.

Joy Bhattacharjya   -  Business Line


Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster;

Twitter: @joybhattacharj

Published on May 22, 2021

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