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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Number 555

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Corkscrews: 1000 Patented Ways to Open a Bottle

2009 Update - Fred O'Leary


Corkscrews: 1000 Patented Ways to Open a Bottle (Schiffer) was published in 1996, following four years of intense patent research . Thanks to inquiring minds, incredible advances in technology, good fortune and, well, some luck, more patents have turned up in the intervening years, more inventors discovered and more real live examples found of known patents. "1,000" had a nice ring to it, but the time has come to move on. It was inevitable this would happen, just as a future update will likely be necessary to update this update. It will forever be a work in progress.

Thus the operative byline now becomes…

Corkscrews: 1,057 Patented Ways to Open a Bottle


In this first update we present - digitally - the additional patents involving a corkscrew discovered since the original publication. Yes, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has gone digital. To view the first 1,000, I refer you to the book - still relevant after all these years. Technology now permits home viewing of the entire patent system with a simple click of a mouse. Imagine that. It is a far cry from methodically pouring through page after page of printed Abstracts, contained in volumes that line shelf upon shelf, occupying an entire room; incomprehensible archaic classification system; unwieldy Microfilm cassettes wound tight/loose on snag-prone spools, viewed by clunky optical machines that if not broken down were otherwise occupied by other searchers; and printed smudgy out-of-focus patents, spit out from pay-per-page copy machines that were also known to malfunction or run out of paper or refuse to honor the pre-paid copy card, etc., etc. - all the media of an earlier time (to even have such resources a only short drive away, however, was fortunate). Much like a key-word search on Ebay or SCReWbase, you can now bring up (and cleanly print) any patent any time containing whatever word/phrase/patent number/date or combination thereof you wish to research. It must come as a welcome relief to would-be inventors and Examiners alike. It is nothing short of a miracle for corkscrew historians.

There are two ways to do "modern" patent research. The first is at the source itself - the Patent Office website:

You will find the site to be H-U-G-E, but manageable if you pinpoint your search. Click on "Patents", "Search Patents", and then proceed with the options available according to the facts you have in hand. I find "Quick Search" to be the most direct approach. For first-time users, you will have to download some software initially, which is free and only has to be done once. After that the entire system is at your disposal, as if you were a tenured Examiner.

The other approach, perhaps a little simpler, is:

At "Google" you can bring up patents any which way your imagination can conceive, from "list" form to "thumbnails", and in whatever sort-order you designate. The only catch is the database comes from a multi-million record literal scan of pre-digital documents, which sometimes skews letters to create words that can look like they are in Russian. For example:


This idiosyncrasy aside, I find "Google" quite helpful navigating larger criteria, or even trolling for patents with no specific target in mind. It can be daunting navigating the two sites at first, but after some practice you will be up to speed and emailing me new discoveries that I missed on my own personal journey. Happy Hunting!


This Update would not have occurred without a jumpstart from collectors who are serious about their corkscrews and their pedigree. Thanks to their curiosity they have found new patents, they have found corkscrews with patents, and they have facilitated in one way or another getting the information to me. You know who you are. For those who don't, here are my heroes, listed alphabetically (I hope I haven't missed anyone):

W. Thad Adams, III
Don Bull
Ed Bystran
Bob Gilbride
Bert Giulian
Ian Hunter
Robert Leopardi
Paul Luchsinger
Ron MacLean
Wayne Meadows
John Morris
Bob Roger
Barry Taylor
Mark Woodard

I wish to specifically single out Don Bull for his incessant alerts to patents that he has tracked down on his own relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to share it. Also for his incredible skills at communication on his website, Weekly Screw and e-mail alerts. If you want to get the information out to the widest range and most eager corkscrew-centric viewers, Bullworks is the vehicle.

2009 Update

The first section presents pictures and captions of corkscrews found by collectors of original and newly discovered patents since initial publication. At the end are marked corkscrews where a patent cannot be confirmed; they are classified as "Misc. and Patent Wannabes". You can access these as a PDF or as a Word Document.

Click here for PDF

Click here for Word Document

Patent Tables

Click here for patent tables

Table I lists the 57 new corkscrew patent discoveries, in chronological order starting with the oldest. Lines in bold depict corkscrews pictured. You can click on the patent number to view the actual patent.

Table II lists additional "Related" patent discoveries with the patent number linked to the patent.

Table III lists a further sampling of "Universal Corkscrews", again with a link to the patent itself.

Please refer to the book for context in understanding each of these designations.


Now that the corkscrew collecting world has also gone digital, it will be a simple matter to continue updating and posting new patent discoveries, as well as real live corkscrews that keep turning up in collections. While research may be closing in on the historical patents - theoretically a finite number - as long as the inventive spirit remains alive, the modern patents will just keep on coming.

For further information about the book and how to order it, please contact me.

Fred O'Leary

May, 2009

© 2009 Fred O'Leary & Don Bull

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©2009 Don Bull, Editor


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