Journeys of Innovation

Each month, the USPTO seeks to inspire and encourage innovation by sharing relatable stories that chronicle the journeys of inventors and entrepreneurs. We shed light on where they got their start, the challenges they faced, and what it took to bring their ideas to fruition and their brands to life. The stories also emphasize the importance of creating and protecting intellectual property, and the critical role it plays in innovation.

Browse all stories below, or search for a name or story title.

Debbie Sterling and two girls play with GoldieBlox on the floor.
Featured this month
Debbie Sterling
How Debbie Sterling challenged the status quo in the toy industry and made STEM more accessible for girls.
Full story
Johnny Pacheco sits on cushions and faces the camera. He wears an embroidered linen shirt.
Johnny Pacheco
Johnny Pacheco founded Fania Records in 1964 and created the Latin music and dance sensation that came to be known, simply, as “salsa.” Full Story >
Audrey Sherman poses in her stairwell with the plaques she received from 3M for her patents.
Audrey Sherman
Audrey Sherman, a leading inventor of adhesives at 3M, shows what’s possible through persistence and collaboration. Full Story >
Kavita Shukla holding sheets of FreshPaper in a carton that says “fresh for all” at a farmers market in front of a table advertising FreshPaper
Kavita Shukla
Kavita Shukla has made it her mission to eliminate food waste. Full Story >
Maude Adams wearing a tunic, skirt, sash, and beads stands at three-quarters profile, framed by trees in the background, and looks off to the right.
Maude Adams
Maude Adams, the most successful American actress of the early 20th century, invented a light bulb that helped actors everywhere shine as they never had before. Full Story >
The Kinnos team poses in scrubs around the USAID logo.
How the co-founders of Kinnos learned from healthcare workers and developed a life-saving additive for disinfectants. Full Story >
Jim and Jane Henson pose with several puppets.
Jim Henson
An artist, puppeteer, and innovator, Jim Henson created the Muppets and forever changed the entertainment business. Full Story >
United States postage stamp showing the trefoil badge and Juliette Gordon Low in a Girl Scout uniform.
Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts of the USA, created a lasting organization for women’s empowerment. Full Story >
Arlyne Simon stands in front of two body scan images.
Arlyne Simon
Words of wisdom from a woman in STEM on how to encourage young innovators. Full Story >
Lex and Santiago pose on either side of a vintage letter press with framed cards in the background.
Lex Monson
Lex Monson, creator of Punkpost, delivers a new way for people to connect through handwritten greeting cards. Full Story >
Marissa Streng holds her hands out toward her dog Mojo.
Marissa Streng
Marissa Streng, inventor of the Puff-N-Fluff dog dryer, shares her experiences as a young innovator and entrepreneur. Full Story >
garrett brown sitting in middle of evolution of six chairs in white studio
Garrett Brown
How Garrett Brown’s “habit of invention” revolutionized cinematography and could launch another revolution for the mobility impaired. Full Story >
Headshot of Marian Croak
Marian Croak
Marian Croak is a pioneer in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and the inventor of text-to-donate technology. Full Story >
Sangeeta Bhatia is pictured in front of a shelf filled with bottles and other lab equipment.
Sangeeta Bhatia
Inventor and entrepreneur Sangeeta Bhatia combines engineering, medicine, and biology to study, diagnose, and treat disease. Full Story >
Portrait of Hinda Miller, Polly Smith, and Lisa Lindahl.
Hinda Miller, Polly Smith, and Lisa Lindahl
Designed to decrease discomfort for female runners, the sports bra has become an athletic necessity as well as a modern fashion staple. Full Story >
A man in a white coat works with equipment in a laboratory.
Percy Julian
A scientist makes inroads in chemistry and civil rights. Full Story >
Martine Rothblatt(excitedly jumping)  and the team from Tier one engineering proudly celebrating in front red Electric helicopter that, with the word lung written on it, huge smile, that just set  Guinesss World Record  being awarded plaque
Martine Rothblatt
How inventor and entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt learned to push past the idea of the impossible. Full Story >
Three men stand in front of a biplane. The man in the middle wears a parachute.
Floyd Smith
How inventor and entrepreneur Floyd Smith made the skies safer for aviators. Full Story >
 Jackie Quinn examines a piece of equipment on the ground with four team members working in the background
Jackie Quinn
NASA environmental engineer Jackie Quinn and her team created an emulsion system that removes contaminants from our groundwater. Full Story >
Susann Keohane and co-worker at the IBM aging in place environment/lab with the friendly looking Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (IBM MERA), a first of a kind Watson-enabled application designed to aid the elderly and assist caregivers with real-time information about their health.
Susann Keohane
How an IBM Master Inventor found her special gift in the world. Full Story >
Shawn Springs holds two helmets and poses in front of a wall of helmets.
Shawn Springs
Former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs tackles a new venture: impact protection. Full Story >
A left hand rests on a tabulation machine, and a right hand picks up a card.
Herman Hollerith
How a statistician's competitive spirit laid the groundwork for the modern census. Full Story >
Jim West in a laboratory with three of his graduate students.
Jim West
Highly regarded as an acoustic scientist, inventor Jim West is also a devoted mentor and advocate of diversity in STEM. Full Story >
Bob Metcalfe holding an Ethernet cable
Bob Metcalfe
The one wire that connected us all. Full Story >
Rory Cooper  in leaned back in a racing chair on a red track, leaned down to become aerodynamic, pushing himself to win
Rory Cooper
An accident changed Rory Cooper’s life and set him on a path to improving the well-being of people with mobility impairments. Full Story >
Image: 1950s KitchenAid illustrated advertisement of a housewife and husband excitedly admiring their new dishwasher. I the top right, dishes magically float from a hospital and industrial dishwasher into their household dishwasher.
Josephine Cochran
How Josephine Cochran defied social norms and invented the modern dishwasher. Full Story >
Portrait of Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin
A trip to the farm changed Temple Grandin's life forever. Full Story >
Image: The Black and Decker cordless Lunar Drill operated by an astronaut on a simulated surface of moon
Carroll Gantz
How NASA's moon missions and a patented design led to a popular hand-held vacuum cleaner. Full Story >
Young founders of Agrospheres sitting casually on a couch
Payam Pourtaheri and Ameer Shakleel
For a young startup, the seeds of risk and reward were planted long ago. Full Story >
Image: Helmeted U.S. soldiers look out over the prow of a Higgens boat as it navigates crashing waves towards the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
Andrew Higgins
How a New Orleans inventor helped defeat the Nazis. Full Story >
Image: Port City® Brewing Company founders Bill and Karen Butcher in the brewery’s taproom hold six packs of some of their registered trademark beers, including, from left, Optimal® Wit, Metro Red®, Monumental® IPA, and Integral® IPA.
Bill and Karen Butcher
In a crowded marketplace, intellectual property helps customers discover new tastes. Full Story >
Image: Chemist Frances Arnold holds a beaker with yellow liquid up to the light.
Frances Arnold
Insights from the first American woman to win the Nobel prize in chemistry. Full Story >
Image: Johnson plays around with a Super Soaker® while wearing a shirt patterned with images of his famous creation.
Lonnie Johnson
How eight years of hard work led to the 'overnight success' of the Super Soaker®. Full Story >
Image: Irina Buhimschi and Cherry Murray speak on a panel at the US Capitol on empowering women
Irina Buhimschi and Cherry Murray
Two trailblazing innovators share insights on science, life in the lab, and beyond. Full Story >
Image: Crops being irrigated in the California Imperial Valley, circa 1919.
Harriet Strong
How one woman’s fortitude shaped agriculture and brought water to the American West. Full Story >
Image: Student studying at night using solar lights
Steve Katsaros
For the 1.2 billion people without electricity, one bright idea could change everything. Full Story >