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America's 9-millionth patent is a windshield-wiper fluid reservoir

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Kazuhisa Otsubo / Flickr

This week, America celebrated its 9-millionth patent. The invention comes from Matthew Carroll of Jupiter, Florida, who developed a method for using rainwater to replenish windshield wiper fluid and, for the past three years, has been shepherding his invention through the US patent system. He first filed for the patent on March 12th, 2012, through his company WiperFill LLC. The patent was granted on April 7th, the 9,000,000th such application granted since 1836, when the Patent Office began its current numbering system.

The patent is already controversial in copyright circles, and some observers are already speculating that the patent office may have manipulated its numbering system to give Carroll's patent a memorable number. Patents are typically issued in blocks, and Carroll's patent is surrounded by a block of bio-affecting drug patents, which are more typical among USPTO patents but perhaps less useful for the patent office's image. Carroll's prototype is already in development, and currently soliciting partnerships.