Today, there are numerous brands and variations of permanent markers. But perhaps the most recognizable, and certainly one of the earliest versions of permanent markers is the Magic Marker. This was invented by Sidney N. Rosenthal in 1952 and later manufactured and marketed by Speedry Chemical Products Inc.
A permanent marker refers to any type of marker pen that applies a permanent ink to nearly any surface, including paper, stone and metal. Because the ink is water resistant, it is very difficult to remove the marking once it is made. However, a paint thinning solvent can be used to remove the marking.
The Invention of the Magic Marker
On April 22, 1953, Sidney N. Rosenthal filed for U.S. Patent No. 2713176, an invention that was described as a “marking device” consisting of a glass reservoir for ink attached to a “nib assembly” that would allow the pen to be “instantly useful at any time despite long periods of non-use.” The patent was issued on July 19, 1955. This was the patent that the original Magic Marker was based on. However, Rosenthal had filed for an “ink supply means for felt nibbed pens” as early as April 3, 1951 indicating that the predecessor of the Magic Marker was invented earlier. This was U.S. Patent Number 2629359.
On February 19, 1957, “Magic Marker” became the registered trademark of Speedry Products Inc., according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records. This was a “felt nib marking pen” which included “small containers” for ink and were “equipped with caps.”
Another widely recognized manufacturer of permanent markers is Sharpie, a trademark of a company called Sanford. Walter J. De Groft filed for a patent of a “marking pen” with a “handle portion forming a liquid reservoir and a nib of an absorbent, yielding material for application of liquid to the surface to be marked” on March 29, 1944. This became U.S. Patent Number 2392840, issued on January 15, 1946. This was several years earlier than the invention of the Magic Marker. However, the first Sharpie marker was not introduced until 1964, according to the company’s website. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records show that the term “Sharpie” was first used on May 5, 1964 by Sanford Ink Company.
According to a July 1962 judicial opinion filed in U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit, a company called Carter’s Ink Company, one of the largest ink manufacturers in the world, released a permanent marker called “Marks-A-Lot” in April 1958. Rosenthal and Speedry sued Carter’s Ink, accusing them of “unfair competition” and “disclosure of trade secrets.” The court ruled in favor of Carter’s Ink Company. Today, Marks-A-Lot, a trademark that was filed on April 23, 1958 by Carter’s Ink, is now owned by Avery Dennison Corporation and can be found in stores today.