Posted on Thursday 26 April 2018 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property

Today, World Intellectual Property Day, not only highlights the importance of intellectual property rights in the innovative landscape, but also focuses on and celebrates women who are driving change and are transforming the future.

To celebrate this year’s theme ‘Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity’,we are looking back at some of the revolutionary inventions created by women and how their innovative creativity and legacy brought with it significant changes to society.

Marie Van Brittan Brown

In millions of homes around the world, CCTV systems have been installed. This was the idea of Marie Van Brittan Brown who was living in Queens, New York City, at the time, an area which experienced high crime rates and slow police responses. Rather than feel scared in her own home, Marie decided to come up with her own system of security. Together with her husband, they devised the first home security system which monitored visitors at the door through a camera which then projected onto a television monitor. It also had a built-in mechanism to unlock or lock the door from a distance and had a panic button as well. Marie wasn’t willing to take any chances when it came to her intellectual property rights and was awarded her patent in 1969.

Maria Telkes

Hungarian Scientist Maria Telkes moved to America following her studies of physical chemistry in Budapest. While working in the US, she began to look more closely into solar energy and together with Eleanor Raymond, an American architect, they designed and constructed the world’s first home heated with solar energy in 1947. Following on from this, Maria built up quite the repertoire of inventions including solar stoves, solar heaters and a solar oven.

Mary Anderson

In 1903, while travelling in a trolley car through New York City, Mary Anderson struggled to see anything due to the snow and rain on the windshield. While the driver continuously wiped the snow away, Mary believed there was a better alternative and so the concept of the windshield wiper was born. Unfortunately for Mary, her invention was widely rejected as companies believed there was no need for it, leaving her patent to lapse without use. Fast forward to now and it is a feature cars and drivers simply couldn’t do without (especially in Ireland!). Not only is Mary’s story one that demonstrates great innovation, it is one that highlights how vital it is to protect your ideas; if you don’t think about your intellectual property rights, nobody else will.

Maria Beasley

We have Maria Beasley to thank for making our journeys on a ship safer with her invention, the life raft. Before this, standard life rafts consisted of a plank of wood with no real safety features, so in 1880 Maria designed a new style of life raft which included guard railings and metal floats. Her design also meant the raft could be easily folded and unfolded, making it more compact and better for storage. In fact, from 1878 to 1898, Maria obtained 15 patents for various other inventions including a foot warmer, steam generator and a wooden barrel making machine. She is one individual who clearly knows the ins and outs of intellectual property rights. Not only that, but she created something that probably saved quite a few lives as well.


These women are truly inspiring and their ideas deserve to be celebrated. They also deserved to be protected. For inventors and businesses, intellectual property rights are not something that can be taken for granted. If you want more information on how to protect your intellectual property rights, contact Cruickshank today.