Profile America: Patently Precocious

Saturday, June 4 — Most little boys at the age of 5 are content to play with toy trucks without thinking about how they could be improved. This was not the case for Robert Patch. He designed a truck that could be assembled and disassembled easily — and changed into different types of vehicle each time, such as a dump truck or a closed van. Patch submitted his application and drawings in 1962, and on this date in 1963, at age 6, he was granted a patent. In 2015, nearly 326,000 patents were granted out of almost 630,000 applications. Fifty-two percent of the patents were awarded to foreign recipients. Toys, games and hobby goods are a small ticket-but-big total part of the economy, as nearly 133,000 retail outlets sell them to the tune of about $33 billion per year.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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