The Patented World Of Bicycles – Technological History

If you are from the 70s, 80s, 90s, or say 20s, you will know how important bicycles are in your life. Basically, bicycles have been a part of our life for centuries now. The world of bicycles and their relevance in our lives is a known fact, but do you know how this amazing product was made. You would be thinking, why should I know that reason and history when I can just use it. We also had the same mindset, but then lawyers are, of course, curious about everything, and thanks to this curiosity, we discovered amazing legal facts about these bicycles. We thought, why not share with our viewers, so yes, welcome to the patented world of bicycles.

One curious known question for all our viewers, why should you call a bicycle a bicycle when you can just call it a cycle? We are sure all of you all might know the answer to it but let us just put it here. A cycle refers to something which starts and ends in a circular or, let’s just say, in a consistent motion. Now, this product has two cycles- one in the front and one in the back, and that’s why we call it a bicycle. You might be wondering, what even, it was such a simple reason, but that’s what it is.

What if we add some facts to the definition to make it more interesting for you all to read. History is a very dry subject but when you get to know amazing facts, why not give it a try. 

Basics of Patentability:

Beginning with the basics, we shall first understand the patent theory behind the bicycles because we need to keep our fundamentals strong. Patents, as you all know, are exclusive rights given to the patent holder as a reward for their interesting and novel invention. The grant of patents depends upon three basic criteria- novelty, inventive step, and use in the industry.


Do bicycles qualify for the patent? Yes, they do. They were unique, they had their own method of invention, and their industrial application is very evident. Voila!! They can be a patentable subject matter.

But, which category of patent? There are three types of patent- product patent, process patent, and utility patents. Let us make it easy for you- bicycles come under the category of utility patents. Utility Patents are granted for new products and improvements in existing products. Bicycles were new in the market once upon a time, but now they are simply modified designs of an existing product. Not to forget, each design is completely different from the other, although the fundamentals are the same. Therefore, they fall under the category of utility patents.

There is always confusion between patents and designs when it comes to bicycles. We are not experts in solving this confusion, yet we can give you a small differentiation between the two. Patents focus on the process and steps to invent the product, whereas designs focus on the appearance of the product and how that appearance can be used in the product. Each IP has its own functionality, and you have to choose which one do you want to go for. For further clarifications, you can reach out to our expert team info@localhost

Technological History:

Coming to the essence of this article, we had conducted research on the patentability of the bicycles, and to our surprise, there were more than 15 patent grants for this product. (We might be wrong with the numbers, it could be more), and these patents were granted by the United States Patent Office. Let us have a sneak peek into the patents.

The history is as old as centuries now, so it might not be feasible to describe its detail. However, we shall try to give in as many details as possible.  

  • The bicycles find their origination through one of the German inventors- Karl daris, who had invented a two-wheeled walking assistant famously known as draisienne. This is considered to be the first patent in the history of bicycles.
  • The next major development was seen in the 1860s where is pedals were introduced to add a driving mechanism called pedal velocipede. The patent was filed in 1860 in the US office. (US Patent No. 59915). This patent was issued in November 1866.
  • Patent for Improved version to Velocipede- titled “Improvised Velocipede” was filed in the year 1869. Rubber tires were introduced in this stage. This design uses a clutch and pulley to create continuous motion.
  • In 1886, U.S. Patent No. 351001, titled Anti Friction Bearing for Velocipedes, was filed. This design protects a roller-bearing assembly for bicycles that are arranged to create much less wear through friction.
  • U.S. Patent No. 453550, which is titled Tire for Vehicle-Wheels, was issued to John Boyd Dunlop of Belfast, Ireland, in June 1891. It protected a method of manufacturing and applying inflated tires, which consisted of an air-proof tube and a non-expansive tubular covering.

Recent development:

The main structure and design of the bicycles have a seat, and two wheels remain unchanged. However, modifications have been witnessed through innovations in comfort and safety aspects.

  1. Inventing a bicycle with safety lights and improvised safety tires was one significant patented invention filed via U.S. Patent No. 8770808, titled “Bicycle Tail Light.” This particular model even came out with provisions to attach the luggage rack behind the seat.
  2. Next in line was a design that created more impact on lights and allowed ease of replacing batteries in them. This was, however, an extended version of the above bicycle, yet it found its way in the patent diary due to its innovation in the tire made of synthetic resin eco-friendly raw materials.
  3. The next patent was assigned to a Japanese company titled Bicycle Seat Position Indicator via U.S. Patent No. 8781690. This indicator sends a signal to the controller regarding the height of the seat relative to the height of the rider and can indicate to the rider that a height adjustment should be made.
  4. Finally, the bicycle with advanced technology intrigued by driver assistance electric motor was granted patent vide U.S. Patent No. 8781663, titled Bicycle Drive Apparatus. The bicycle is still powered by pedaling, but the microcomputer issues a shift command to the transmission for shifting gears automatically.

That’s all about the history of the bicycle, and now that we are wrapping up the article- did you all notice something peculiar about the facts stated above? All the patents were filed in the US office and not India. Not that Indians are way back in the technology sector, but the Indian patent Act, 1970 restricts patent filing for those products that are mere modifications of the existing ones.

The Bottom line:

No one could anticipate that one bicycle could have been patented in many ways. Yes, we all know that innovations are part of life and history reveals that the bicycle has more modifications than innovation. That might sound a bit rude to the readers, yet that’s what history says. However, with that in mind, if you feel your innovations make it up to the criteria and can be patented, then we recommend filing a provisional application at the earliest to make sure your invention stays protected. Also, remember you have 12 months to file complete specifications once the provisional is filed.

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