Since 1790 the United States has been officially registering the thousands of innovations and inventions created by Americans. By a person registering their unique idea or product, this protected the individual from someone copying their exact idea and making a profit from it. The federal organization handling the registration is the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Added to subscription fee-based Ancestry.com, is the database which contains invention patents and product trademarks granted between 1790 and 1909 by the USPTO. Family researchers can possibly uncover some previously unknown innovations developed by an ancestor for which they applied and received a U. S. Patent.
The searchable database provides the name or names of the patent holder, the patent date, and location, patent number and its present status. In the search boxes, place an ancestor’s name. If it an unusual surname, just place that name. If it is more common, place the given name and surname. A location such as a town and state name can be added.
Keep in mind the traditional ancestral hometown may not have been the location placed on the patent application, so be flexible on location names. Also an ancestor may have used just their initials for the application. There may have been a co-inventor's name on the patent application also, one possibly unknown to the family researcher.
If a patent application is located in the database on an ancestor, there will be a scanned original written document describing the invention. The best part is if there were any scanned drawings of the invention, which were included with the application, those will be visible also. Each application also has a full signature by the applicant seeking the patent.
So an interesting search for any of those creativity family members who lived between 1790 and 1909. It is definitively worth the time to investigate what trademarks on products or patents were developed by one's ancestors.