- For the rugby union footballer of the 1890s for England, and Runcorn RLFC, see Samuel "Sam" Houghton
Samuel Thomas Houghton is a British inventor. In April 2008, at the age of 5, he received a patent for his "Sweeping Device With Two Heads" invention. He is thought to be the youngest person to have been granted a patent for their invention.
In 2006, at the age of 3, Sam Houghton saw his father sweeping their back yard using two different brooms: one to clear up the larger leaves and twigs and another to pick up finer debris. Believing that there must be an easier way to do the job, Houghton strapped two different brooms together with a large rubber band.
Houghton's father, Dr Rev Mark Houghton (a patent attorney) was impressed by the invention. On 14 October 2006 he filed a patent application at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) naming Sam as the sole inventor. A patent was granted on 2 April 2008 when Sam was 5 years old. Sam's family in West Lancashire are very proud.
Patent applications do not always record ages but a spokesperson for the UKIPO said that they have "never come across anyone as young as Sam who has been successful in their application and believe he is the youngest yet".
The patent application thanks Archie The Inventor from children’s TV series Balamory as Sam Houghton's inspiration to invent, although not for the invention itself, which Mark Houghton insists was all Sam's work. A press release by the UKIPO suggests that Wallace and Gromit also served as Sam's inspiration. Wallace and Gromit, the main characters in a series of animated films by Nick Park, front the UKIPO's "Cracking Ideas" campaign intended to get young people inventing.
Granted patents can last for up to 20 years such that Sam Houghton will have the opportunity to develop and market his product when he is older, if he wishes. However, Mark Houghton had said that obtaining the patent was more about letting Sam have some fun and teaching him about innovation than about marketing the product. Nevertheless, Mark was keen that Sam's achievement be used to highlight the "Cracking Ideas" campaign.
- GB application 2438091
- GB 2438091B
- Five-year-old sweeps up patent with his first Cracking Idea
- "'Youngest inventor' patents broom". BBC News. 16 April 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- "Little boy's big idea could make a tidy sum". The Daily Telegraph. London. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys - CIPA - What's New?
- Boy, 5, becomes UK's youngest inventor | Metro.co.uk