Background: According to the Guinness Book of Records, the earliest of all known English patents for an invention was granted by King Henry VI in 1449 to Flemishborn John Utynam for making stained glass. The second patent was approved by King Edward VI and granted to Henry Smyth in 1552 for making Normandy glass.
Objective: To show that most of the first published patents were related to the manufacture of glass or to instruments that used such knowledge.
Method: We analyzed some historical documents and applied a brief statistical analysis on the number of glass patents publications.
Results: In Italy, patent laws started as early as 1474 to protect incipient glass manufactures. The first French patent was granted in 1561 for a special lens dispositive (l’holmetre). The first American patent was issued in 1790 for an improvement “in the making of Potash and Pearl ash” - both are basically potassium carbonate, essential for the making glass and soap. The first German trademark registration, PERKEO, was granted in 1894 to a Berlin lamp producer. Approximately 827,643 patents with the term “glass” in the title or abstract have been filed worldwide, according to the European Patent Office (starting in 1859 and up to 2015). This number continues to grow as do total glass sales worldwide. Looking for the word “glass” in the title only, we found 250,589 patents filed in this period.
Conclusion: We conclude that the spirit of innovation has in its origins a strong connection with the rise of glass technology.
Keywords: Glass, history, patent, technology.