It seems the patent office wanted number 11 million to be special, not soy

The US Patent Office issued utility patent number 11 million today, granting the milestone number to a patent entitled “repositioning wires and methods for repositioning prosthetic heart valve devices within a heart chamber and related systems, devices and methods.”

Even without understanding exactly what that means, it just screams progress, doesn’t it? Prosthetic heart valves? Surgery? This truly is the future that the patent system enables.

There have, however, been accusations that the patent office cherry-picked which invention would get the most notable number in years (patent 10 million was awarded back in 2018), aiming to give it to something exciting, rather than bland like, say, a soybean.

Could it really be true? To see if that was the case, I looked at the patents that were granted before and after it, to see if they really were as boring as Twitter alleged. And I found that they absolutely were. The prosthetic heart valve-related patent is, in fact, c-c-c-combo-breaking what would otherwise be a string of six soybean-related patents.

That’s not all, though. I looked back at patents 10,999,990 through 10,999,999, and before the soy starts, there’s a string of patents about corn, sorghum, and cucumbers. Yeah, it’s not a lot sexier. Going the other direction, patent 11,000,005 is for an edible (non-soy) bean called COWBOY, and 11,000,006 is about a tomato variant. Then things just start getting weird, with pet doors and farm equipment.

Whether the patent office purposefully stole soy’s thunder probably isn’t something we’ll ever know for sure, but to me the evidence is pretty compelling. The Patent Office sure made a big deal about 11 million on Twitter, tweeting about it more than a few times. Surely it must’ve known it wouldn’t have been as exciting if the celebrated patent had been one of six soybeans.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for any funny business around patent number 11,111,111 as this is, obviously, a very serious issue.