Celebrating the Fourth of July with Fireworks Patents
|Written by Steve Brachmann
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Posted: July 4, 2013 @ 8:00 am
To celebrate the 4th of July IPWatchdog wants to take a look back at some of this year’s most intriguing patent applications and issued patents related to fireworks. Brilliant, vibrant displays of reds, whites and blues streaking across the sky are a typical mark of this patriotic celebration of America’s declaration of independence from Great Britain. Although safety is an important issue to consider, people in many states are able to purchase their own fireworks and present displays of all shapes and sizes.
Today, we commemorate some advancements within the firework industry. Two patent applications we feature below have some interesting implications to the future of fireworks. One application would protect a kit that allows inexperienced consumers to easily set a fireworks display which is choreographed to music. Another application would provide more information to potential customers who want to view a firework in action before buying one.
A number of patents issued recently by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office serve to improve safety and manufacturing efficiency for fireworks. One patent provides a new combustion chamber design for the use of propellant materials that create less smoke, while another patent provides launcher reinforcements to protect spectators if a firework is installed improperly. A final patent we feature here protects a system of manufacturing firework cylinders to prevent inconsistencies in design that occur often with current manufacture processes.
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Plug-N-Light Musical Firework Apparatus
U.S. Patent Application No. 20120210897
Musically choreographed fireworks displays are very popular among sightseers and firework enthusiasts. These presentations use fireworks that are timed precisely to correspond to certain moments in a music recording, often either popular contemporary music or well-known classical compositions. However, the complexity of programming a multi-shot fireworks device to correspond to a piece of a music is such that these types of displays are only done professionally, even though any consumer could purchase the necessary equipment.
This patent application, assigned to solo inventer Donald Martin Johnson Jr. of Blountville, TN, would protect a firework apparatus that allows users with little expertise to set a fireworks display that is timed to music. A multi-shot firework device, also known as a multi-shot cake, which is connected to an audio playback device. The ignition timer is set so that firework fuses are lit in response to audio playback. Users can also adjust the timing of fireworks to correspond more closely to the music being played.
Claim 1 of this patent application would give the inventor the right to protect:
“An apparatus for conducting a musically choreographed fireworks display, the apparatus comprising: a multi-shot fireworks cake having a primary fuse; at least one ignition sensor configured to detect ignition of the primary fuse; and an audio device circuit, electrically coupled to the at least one ignition sensor, the audio device circuit configured to output an audio signal upon detection of the ignition of the primary fuse.”
Combustion Chamber for Launching Fireworks Projectiles
U.S. Patent No. 8402893
A firework unit is composed of a projectile that sits inside of a low-pressure combustion chamber. Within the combustion chamber, black powder is ignited to provide the force that propels the firework into the sky. This black powder, typically composed of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur, burns well in low-pressure applications, but about half of the material is converted into smoke when it is burned.
Two inventors from the Netherlands have recently been awarded a USPTO patent to protect a new combustion chamber design that reduces the smoke given off by a firework. The top wall of the combustion chamber is vented with 4 to 10 small holes aligned symmetrically, with a preferable diameter of two to four millimeters. This provides a better environment for the combustion of reduced-smoke propellants made from nitrocellulose, nitroglycerin and other materials.
As Claim 1 explains, this patent provides protections for:
“A combustion chamber for launching a fireworks projectile which comprises: a container having top, bottom and side walls, the top wall comprising venting holes; and a perforatable disk positioned adjacent to the top wall closing the holes to gas flow from the container, wherein the perforatable disk is adapted to burst when a preset pressure is exceeded in the container to open the holes to vent gas out of the container and wherein the preset pressure corresponds to a pressure for an ignition stage for a propellant comprising a reduced smoke propellant material.”
Fireworks Information Systems and Methods
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130146654
Consumers can purchase a variety of fireworks from retailers, but the expense of purchasing fireworks often causes consumers to be wary of making a purchase. If they buy a firework that doesn’t work as they intended, the firework has been used and cannot be returned. Firework retailers spend a lot of time and money on training staff to be able to communicate how a firework appears, but this still allows some error.
A father and son team of inventors, Richard Emmett Feiner II of Jackson, MO, and Richard Emmett Feiner III of Atlanta, GA, have devised a system of providing videos to users to see how specific fireworks act when ignited. In this system, machine-readable bar codes are included on firework packaging. When scanned, this would inform a computer processor to retrieve a video file of the firework and play that video on a display screen.
Claim 1 of this patent application would give the Feiners legal protections over:
“A computer system comprising at least one processor, wherein the computer system is configured for: reading one or more machine-readable indicia associated with one or more fireworks; at least partially in response to reading the one or more machine-readable indicia, retrieving, from computer memory, information associated with the one or more fireworks, the information comprising one or more video images of the one or more fireworks detonating; and displaying the information to a user.”
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Reusable Fireworks Launcher with Reinforcing Sleeve
U.S. Patent No. 8365667
Fireworks are aesthetically beautiful, but also highly dangerous. When the fuse is lit, a lift charge in the combustion chamber of a firework lifts it high into the sky so that, when the effect charge goes off, viewers can enjoy the display without being put in physical danger. Many consumers have the ability to purchase reusable launchers that can be used for many fireworks. However, a user may set the firework upside-down, which can result in the effect charge detonating far too close to spectators.
This patent, issued to Jake’s Fireworks Inc. of Pittsburg, KS, protects a new design of reusable firework launcher with added protection against destructive forces in case of improper usage. A reinforcing sleeve is secured around the base of the launcher to protect against the force of an effect charge that explodes in the launcher. Both the launch tube and reinforcing sleeve would be constructed of a high-density polyethylene.
As Claim 1 of this patent explains, Jake’s Fireworks has the right to protect:
“A fireworks launcher operable to launch a fireworks artillery shell having a lift charge and an effect charge, said launcher comprising: a base; an elongated, upright launch tube secured to said base and configured to receive said shell, said launch tube having a tubular wall presenting an uppermost open end remote from said base, an inner surface and an outer surface, and a tubular wall thickness between said inner and outer surfaces; and a reinforcing section extending upwardly from said base and having an inner surface in engagement with a portion of said outer surface of the tubular wall of the launch tube above said base, said launch tube being operable to permit ignition and launching of said shell when properly placed within said launch tube with said lift charge beneath said effect charge, the combined thickness of said tubular wall and said reinforcing section being sufficient to withstand potentially destructive forces generated within said launch tube in order to maintain the structural integrity of the launcher, in the event that said fireworks artillery shell is improperly placed within said launch tube and ignited in an inverted condition with said lift charge disposed above said effect charge.”
U.S. Patent No. 8322285
One problem facing the fireworks industry is the highly inefficient nature of manufacturing fireworks. Especially with combined fireworks, which use multiple cylinders to provide increased effects, the molding processes that are used to create the firework can take up to a week, and distortions in the cylinders are common. Fuses must also be manually connected, which can cause more problems in product consistency. Any of these aspects can greatly affect the actual performance of the firework.
This USPTO patent, issued to a solo inventor from China, provides for a standard specification of an outer cylinder that can be reliably manufactured. The outer cylinder is designed with all of the required tubular holes for fuse connections between other cylinders. This design also provides a redundancy for a backup fuse if the initial fuse doesn’t light.
Claim 1 of this patent protects:
“A combined firework comprising: a body in which a plurality of tubular holes whose central longitudinal axes are parallel to each other are uniformly distributed, the tubular holes having openings upward and bottom ends closed, the closed end of the bottom of each tubular hole being provided with two small through holes penetrating through the bottom of the body; an inward fuse and an outward fuse provided for each of the two small through holes, the inward fuse of each tubular hole respectively being connected with the outward fuse of another adjacent tubular hole in sequence to form a series connection, except the inward fuse of the tubular hole at the head of the series connection and the outward fuse of the tubular hole at the end of the series connection, the inward fuse of the tubular hole at the head of the series connection extending out of the bottom of the body as an ignition fuse; the body, the tubular holes and the small through holes thereof being an integrally molded structure; and propellant powder being provided on the bottom in each tubular hole and connecting the outward fuse with the inward fuse, an inner cylinder or effect powder being provided on the propellant powder.”
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