Sunday, December 12, 2010

If You Invent It - Claim It.

Mr. Italo Marchiony had a problem.  He was selling a wonderful confection – an Italian lemon ice – from a push cart (also called a hokey-pokey) on Wall Street in Manhattan, and it was among the most popular treats of its day.  The problem was the container – a small liquor glass which was to be returned to the push cart after the customer was finished so that it could be cleaned and reused.  But Mr. Marchiony's customers were usually in a hurry and did not bring their glasses back - or the glasses got broken, increasing his overhead considerably.

So he went to work and invented a wonderful new, leak proof, edible ice cream cone and a mold for making it; for which he was awarded U.S. Patent No. 746,971 on December 13, 1903.  The mold was in four sections, all hinged together so that the small cups could be taken out without breaking them.  By pouring in a waffle batter and heating the mold in a very hot oven, Mr. Marchiony could make a large supply of the edible cups very quickly.  They even had a small handle.  Customers loved them. 

Unfortunately, Mr. Marchiony only claimed the mold in his patent  - not the cones.  So when Mr. Ernest A. Hamwi began selling waffle type cones filled with ice cream at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, Mr. Marchiony was powerless to stop him.

Fortunately, the story ends well.  Mr. Marchiony’s treats were so popular that by the time of his retirement in 1938, he had a fleet of 45 push carts in New York, operated by men he had hired.  He made an excellent living from his invention right through the great depression – and gave people jobs in the process.

But the moral of our story is this:  if you invent the ice cream cone and a mold for making it, and you wish to protect your invention, be sure to claim the mold and the cone.

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