We’ve talked about the development of the kill switch here before on the Bass Fishing Archives. It was invented by a gentleman by the name of Dr. Allen Tomlin in 1973 and he was awarded the patent to the idea in December, 1973.
So, I was a bit surprised when I was looking through the February/March 1974 issue of American Bass Fisherman and saw this ad by the Mars Safety Switch Company out of Greenville, SC. I know the information pipeline back in the early 70s wasn’t what it is today but I would have thought that a patent attorney back then would have been on the ball enough to know that there was a patent pending on an item like this?
It’s hard to imagine that Mars Safety Switch Company didn’t know of the work being done by Dr. Tomlin as Tomlin’s switch was published in the May/June 1973 issue of Bassmaster Magazine. Also, the Mars ad doesn’t reference Tomlin’s patent number or any patent for that matter.
Reading Tomlin’s article, though, he said that he sent the drawings and photos into Bassmaster so anyone could make the device on their own. It makes you wonder if he took Mars to court over the infringement and also how long Mars produced the switch.