WESTFIELD - You could say he is a jack-of-all-trades.
Westfield resident Al Newman is an artist, inventor and author, having recently been granted his fourth patent.
Newman was born in Hawaii and grew up watching his father invent different gadgets.
The Self-Leveling Wheelbarrow with Positioning Lock invented by Al Newman of Westfield.
At the age of nine, his family moved back to Westfield. Newman received his higher education at Alfred University and the University of Hawaii, where he earned a bachelor of arts.
He met and married his wife, Penny, while at college and moved to her home in Los Angeles, where he worked for 40 years as an advertising copywriter and creative director.
This talented man is not only an endearing author of children's books called "Fun E. Friends," an award-winning painter and sculptor, but also an inventor of many unique things.
A child's toy sparked the genius behind his latest invention idea.
"I realized the same no-spill double bowl should be on a wheelbarrow," Newman said. "I played around with the idea and saw it needed to be locked in place."
The positioning lock allows the wheelbarrow to be locked in various positions to ensure nothing is spilled.
Having not been a stranger to how patents work, Newman decided to write his own patent this time.
"I met with my attorney in Jamestown to see how much it would cost if he wrote it," he said. "I wrote my own patent and applied for it. They rejected it at first, which they always do. I had to find out what to do to overcome the rejection. I spoke with a Washington, D.C., examiner, and they told me to clean up the language a bit and use the right lingo. I spoke to an attorney in Florida, where I spend my winters, and he cleaned up the language for me. I got the patent in July."
The patent, U.S. 8,789,801 B2, was issued on July 29, and covers a wide array of applications, including self-leveling handcarts, shipping containers, anti-seasickness chairs, wheelchairs, trailers, baby carriages, and even products not yet invented. The receptacle may be stationary, or attached to a wheeled vehicle, water craft, aircraft or other means of transportation.
"It is a very attractive thing to approach a company telling them you have a utility patent. Utility patents are good for 20 years and prevent anyone else from copying your invention," Newman said. "I hope to find a manufacturer who likes it and wants to make wheelbarrows."
Newman explained that his invention works like a double-gimbaled cupholder on a boat, wherein a container is suspended from a pivoting framework so it remains level while the boat rocks and sways. The difference with his invention is a unique locking system which allows the container to be locked in various positions to make it safer and easier to use.
"This patent can be used for anything with a lock, so this is an amazing thing granted to me," he said. "I can create anything on water, air, land or stationary with a lock, so this patent is very broad for me."
Newman has designed a unique two-wheeled wheelbarrow with an independent bucket that rides level over sloping ground and can be locked in a level position when parked on a hillside. The lock is operated by a lever on the handle, so the bucket can be locked or released while in use. The user can also unlock the bucket and tip the handles far forward to let the bucket pivot out in front of the wheels and sit on the ground, where it is released. Conversely, the bucket can be raised by hooking onto it and leveraging back on the handles to raise it, (as you would with a refrigerator dolly) so you don't have to lift with your back muscles.
A new anti-seasickness chair designed by Newman allows you to enter and exit the chair safely when it is locked, then release the lock after you are seated so you can ride level while the boat rocks and sways.
"I can have 100 different licenses on this patent," he said. "I can license this locking system to many different manufacturers, wheelbarrow, baby carriage, wheelchairs, boats...I just have to find people who want to do it."
Since he has been at this for a very long time, Newman is anxious to see his inventions come to fruition.
"Anyone interested in learning more about the specifics can contact me and I will show them my designs," he said.
Newman is now seeking manufacturers interested in licensing his newest patent. For more information, contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .