IP Information & News

The way you make me file — famous musician patent holders

Nicole Cordy

By Nicole Cordy

Patent Attorney

There is a misconception that all inventors are eccentric old men who spend their lives tinkering with gadgets in a shed. This is not true (at least, not most of the time). However, most inventors are very creative and good at problem solving. As musicians are some of the most creative people around, it should not come as too much of a surprise that several famous musicians have patented inventions. This is a look at five interesting examples…

Michael Jackson’s Anti-Gravity Shoes

Patent No.: US 5255452

Issue Date: 26 October 1993

Michael Jackson’s amazing 45-degree tilt during performances of Smooth Criminal had scientists and dancers baffled, as he seemingly defied gravity. In fact, MJ had invented a special pair of shoes which have a slot in the heel that hooks on to a peg inserted through the floor. Not magic, but still impressive innovation!


Prince’s Keytar

Patent No.: US D349127

Issue Date: 26 July 1994

Prince obtained a US design patent for this new, slightly eccentric, keyboard-guitar hybrid which he dubbed the ‘PurpleaxxeTM’. The instrument was used in many of Prince’s recording and shows.


Neil Young’s Trains

Patent No.: US 5441223

Issue date: 15 August 1995

Neil Young — world famous rock legend — is also a huge fan of trains. An auction of some of Neil’s model trains in 2017 raised nearly £300,000. He has been named as an inventor on several US patent applications related to model train inventions. He even invented a model train controller which is easier for people with disabilities to use, as his own sons struggled to use existing controllers.


Van Halen’s Guitar Support System

Patent No.: US 4656917

Issue date: 14 April 1987

Eddie Van Halen is known for his wild guitar performances on stage. He even invented a support system for a guitar (or other stringed instrument) which mounts the instrument perpendicular to the user’s body, freeing their hands for some epic guitar solos (as shown in the patent drawing below)!


Harry Connick Jr.’s Digital Sheet Music for Ochestras

Patent No.: US 6348648

Issue Date: 19 February 2002

Harry Connick Jr. is known as an accomplished actor, composer and singer, but he has yet another string to his bow. He patented a digital sheet music system that allows a conductor to modify a musical score and transmit the modifications to multiple users— for example, all or part of the orchestra. Is there no end to Mr Connick’s talents?!


These examples show that you simply can’t stereotype an ‘inventor’. Today, all sorts of people hold patents and other forms of IP — for example, more women are involved in patent filing around the world than ever before. Hopefully this trend towards diversity will continue.

See our recent article for World IP Day to learn about famous female inventors and find out why our attorneys love their jobs so much. And, find out more about patents and our services.

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