Authors: Ralph H. Cathcart, | Practices: | Tags: ,


Ladas & Parry LLP considers diversity and inclusion as core values and principles that provide access to opportunity, consolidation of expertise and range of perspectives and ensures excellence, particularly in the IP field. We salute those who have helped shape the world and would like to shine a light on these pioneers who sometimes receive little or no credit.

“I am honored once again to pay tribute to the remarkable IP pioneers before me, who overcame significant obstacles to excel, even when the playing field was not even. Celebrating these individuals enriches our history and sheds light on the truth and the magnitude of the contributions made by these great men and women.”  Ralph H. Cathcart – Partner, Ladas & Parry LLP

Radia Perlman

Radia Perlman, also known as “The Mother of the Internet”, has been a major player and innovator in the development and advancement of the Internet and making routing for the internet dependable as well as adaptable. She is most famous for Spanning-Tree Protocol (STP), which is said to have revolutionized the Ethernet (a way in which computers are linked together in a local area network (LAN)).

Ms. Perlman began her career in math and science in the 1960’s and 70’s where she received degrees, including her Ph.D. from MIT where she was one of only a handful of female students.
Ms. Perlman is also an author of popular texts on cryptography (a way to secure information and communication methods that are made by the use of algorithms) as well as network bridging and routing.

She is the holder of 100+ patents and has been inducted to the Internet Hall of Fame as well as to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2016.

Marshall Jones

Marshall Jones, a mechanical engineer, is an innovator and authority in the use of lasers. He has developed new methods of using lasers for welding various types metals together as well as cutting metals and plastics. Though Jones is a very talented engineer, his early life was a challenge.

Born in 1941, Marshall had trouble in grammar school and had to repeat the 4th grade. In college, he faced discrimination (he was denied entry to his first college residence because of his race) and was the only African American engineering school student at the University of Michigan, where he received his bachelor of science degree in 1965. He also graduated from the University of Massachusetts, where he received his Master’s in Science degree and his Ph.D. In spite of seemingly insurmountable hardships in life, he was determined to never give up on his goal of becoming an engineer.

Jones has become an inspiration and mentor to students interested in becoming engineers and scientists and is involved in programs such as Camp Invention and Stick to It. In 2017, Marshall Jones was Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and has over 100 patents – both U.S. and foreign.

Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones was born in the Cincinnati, Ohio /Covington, Kentucky area in 1893. His early life was one of great difficulty. His parents split when he was very young and he was raised by his father. At age 7 he was sent to live with a priest. Jones went off on his own at the age of 11 and over the years held a variety of jobs, including as a janitor in a garage. There he found himself learning about the mechanics of automobiles. He proved to be so proficient that he became the foreman of the garage. Eventually he moved on to work on a farm in Hallock, Minnesota, repairing farm equipment. In his free time, he educated himself further about mechanics and received his engineering license at the age of 20. After serving in World War I, he went back to Hallock and focused on the subject of electronics. He put this knowledge to work to build a transmitter for the town’s new radio station as well as a machine to incorporate sound with moving images. Eventually, a producer of sound equipment, entrepreneur Joseph Numero, hired Jones to improve upon his sound equipment. Numero and Jones became partners and they founded the Thermo King / U. S. Thermo Control Company. Jones’ patented invention of a portable air-cooling unit for trucks was used by the military in World War 2 to carry medications and food. By 1949 his company was worth millions.

Jones was a prolific inventor and obtained 60+ patents in his lifetime and became the first African American elected to the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers. Though he died in 1961, in 1991, he and Joseph Numero were posthumously awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George Bush. He was also inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007.

Norbert Rillieux

The son of a slave, Mr. Rillieux patented the multiple- effect vacuum pan evaporator. His invention was used on sugar cane juice to enhance sugar refining capability. By heating the sugar cane juice in a vacuum, its boiling point was greatly reduced, thus reducing fuel consumption in the refinery. Ultimately, the invention greatly reduced the price of sugar and made sugar into a household commodity readily available to consumers. At least one author claims that some have argued that Mr. Rillieux’s invention was the greatest invention in the history of American chemical engineering up until such time.

Dr. Patricia Bath

New York Ophthalmologist Dr. Patricia Bath, became the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention. The patent, No. 4,744,360, issued to protect a method for removing cataracts from patient’s eyes. Her invention literally transformed eye surgery and utilized a laser device (Cataract Laserphaco Probe). Dr. Bath’s invention used cutting edge laser technology to quickly and painlessly vaporize cataracts from patient’s eyes and restore vision, even for people who had no vision for years! Dr. Bath’s contribution may never be fully appreciated, except by those individuals who received the gift of sight again!

Judy W. Reed

Easing the burden of housework was behind many of the inventions made by women, including the hand operated dough kneader and roller (U.S. Patent No. 305,474 on September 23, 1884) invented by Judy Reed. Ms. Reed is believed by many to be the first African American woman to receive a patent. Though Reed’s name appears on her patent, many black female inventors at the time were afraid to have their name associated with their inventions because of the likelihood that white people would refuse to buy a product they knew was invented by a black woman.

Mr. Cathcart would like to thank Martha E. Erickson for her assistance in putting together this tribute to diversity in the IP field.

Share b