Inventions and Patents of Glow Sticks – When They Were Invented and How They’re Used Now

The glow sticks as we know them today are used as playthings, decorations, and for some emergency or safety items that require illumination.  But these sticks that are used as toys and at parties were not originally invented for that purpose.

The light that emanates from glow sticks is called chemiluminescence and it’s a chemical reaction that occurs from the blending of the various chemicals and dyes that are safely encased in the see-through plastic tubing.  The list of inventions and patents that relate to glow sticks goes back to 1962. 

The list of patents for the various glow sticks available today are varied and show several inventors’ names.  But back in about 1962, Edwin A. Chandross, who worked at Bell Laboratories, was one of the first to work on cyalume, a chemical reaction that produces chemiluminescence.  The actual cyalume, however, was later more fully invented by F. Arthen and L. Bollyky of American Cyanamid.  At the same time that they were working out these inventions, others were working on it also, namely military researchers at our naval weapons center in the U.S.  Little did Dr. Chandross realize that his invention would go on to create millions of people happy to this very day with “glow sticks.” 

It turns out that a few patents and trademarks for sticks that “glow” were claimed by a variety of inventors. The majority of the patents were given to the U.S. Navy, though the first patents were given to Bernard Dubrow and Eugene Daniel Guth in 1965. Theirs was termed a Packaged Chemiluminescent Material.  Not the catchiest of names, but the materials worked as they should.  Then in 1973, a new device was patented and called a Chemical Lighting Device. At least the names of the devices were getting easier to pronounce!

As the years went on in the 1970s, more and more inventors were tweaking these glowing items until, in 1976, the Chemiluminescent Signal Device was patented. Here was a prototype for our glow stick as we know it now, where it is bent and broken so the chemicals can mix together and make the stick glow.  These were used as roadside flares. Eventually, the glow sticks were discovered to be excellent when used in a variety of other ways and they came to be very popular toy items.

The patenting process in the United States can be very complex if you’re not familiar with how it works. In fact, the popular series of “Dummy” books even has a “Patents for Dummies” paperback you can buy to help you if you think you have an invention worth the effort of patenting.  The cost of patents can depend upon the fees of the attorney you hire to help you (and an attorney is a very important aspect of the process). It can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 to apply for a patent depending upon its complexity.

The glow sticks and illuminated items we sell at are all patented and ready for you to have fun with today.  Give us a call at 866-661-0145 and order your supply.


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