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THE WORLD OF PECULIAR PATENTS: PART 1

Inventors and IP lawyers should always be on track with registered patents.

Which ideas have already been patented, are they similar to my invention? Is my invention unique enough? Which patent registration was denied and why – are just few questions inventors or IP attorneys face in the process of registration and protection of patent. While inventions are mostly interesting and fascinating, there is a ton of patents that are strange, crazy and even down right creepy. Some of them maybe shouldn’t be patented at all.  Why wouldn’t we have some fun,  it is after all December (month of gifts and miracles 😉).  So in December we are going to have a series of fun, crazy and strange patents which were successfully.

THE GREENHOUSE HELMET

What would you say if you would see this commercial?

Stuck in a lockdown? In a busy city with no trees and no nature? You miss a breath of fresh air? And the last cactus in your living room died? No problem! Try the Greenhouse Helmet!

The Greenhouse Helmet (Patent number: US 4605000 A) was granted patent in 1986. A principle object of the invention is to provide a greenhouse helmet designed to contain plants secured within and the helmet worn completely over the head of a person so that the person can breathe in the oxygen given off by the plants. You read it right! It’s a helmet with tiny shelves on which you can put plants. The greenhouse helmet that has air filters so that ambient air containing carbon dioxide will be filtered therethrough and mixed with the carbon dioxide breathed out by the person to be used by the plants. Basically, you breath in fresh oxygen from plants and give carbon dioxide to plants so you kind of work like a greenhouse. The helmet does not fog and even has a two-way intercom system, so you can communicate with friends (or your cat for that matter 😉). In times like this I would reconsider buying this.

APPARATUS FOR FACILLITATING THE BIRTH OF A CHILD BY CENTRIFUGAL FORCE

Patent Number: US3216423A

On November 9 1965, the Blonsky and his wife were granted US Patent 3,216,423, for an Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force, a peculiar device designed to  “assist the under-equipped woman by creating a gentle, evenly distributed, properly directed, precision-controlled force, that acts in unison with and supplements her own efforts”. Patent application consists of eight pages which explains how apparatus works, how is it used and which components are included, to put it short: apparatus consist of a turntable over which the pregnant and ready to delivery woman is laid, with her legs pointed outwards, and is strapped down. The table is then rotated at high speed. When a sufficient speed is reached, the baby slides out of the birth canal propelled by centrifugal force caused by the rotating table. In words of Bronskys: ” It is known, that due to natural anatomical conditions, the fetus needs the application of considerable propelling force to enable it to push aside the constricting vaginal walls, to overcome the friction of the uteral and vaginal surfaces and to counteract the atmospheric pressure opposing the emergence of the child. In the case of a woman who has a fully developed muscular system and has had ample physical exertion all through the pregnancy, as is common with all more primitive peoples, nature provides all the necessary equipment and power to have a normal and quick delivery. This is not the case, however, with more civilized women who often do not have the opportunity to develop the muscles needed in confinement.” Where did Bronskys come up with such an idea you might wonder. Well from pregnant elephant in the Bronx Zoo of course.  George Bronsky noticed that pregnant elephant was slowly twirling herself in circles, evidently in preparation for delivering a 250lb baby. The idea was born like it is usually born – in strange times and strange places. 

George and Charlotte Blonsky won the 1999 Ig Nobel Prize in the field of Managed Health Care for their contribution on the field of child labour. Ig Nobel Prize is a satiric prize awarded annually since 1991 to celebrate ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research, it aims to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”[1]

THE SUPER SOAKER – Squirt gun

Patent Number: US 4591071

The Super Soaker is not strange by its nature, however only few could imagine the success brought by a plastic toy which shoots a continuous high velocity stream of water and it remains extremely popular toy for kids to play during summer all around the globe. Nowdays we would probably see nothing special in this invention, however back in the 90s that was an awesome invention.

Lonnie Johnson made few of interesting inventions in his lifetime, however Super Soaker is probably the most successful of them all (Interview with Lonnie Johnson).

Without the means to produce and distribute it, Johnson pursued licensing. Between 1985 and 1987, Johnson worked unsuccessfully with Daisy to develop a product line.  His first licensing deal did not work; however, he soon improved the design-for-manufacture of his prototypes by incorporating blow-molding. He signed an agreement with Larami Corporation in March 1989 to manufacture and distribute his invention. In its first two years on the market, the Super Soaker generated over $200 million in retail sales, and became the number one selling toy in America. In 1995, Hasbro Corp., the second largest toy manufacturer in the world, acquired Larami Corporation. TIME later ranked the Super Soaker 91 out of 100 on its list of all-time great toys. Overall Super Soaker sales have totaled close to one billion dollars. Lonnie Johnson earned over $100M royalties.

                                                                                                [2]

As a child I dreamed about running away on dolphine’s back. I was fascinated by them and their way of communicating. I have only recently came across Marine mammal communication device (Patent number: 5397735) which was registred in 1995 (If only my mother knew about that!).

Marine mammal communication device is an innovative communication device and learning tool that enables marine mammals, such as dolphins, to communicate with humans and with each other. It enables marine mammals to learn symbolic communication skills, particularly those which label social interactions, and to provide a means for facilitating the use of such symbols for communications among marine mammals and between marine mammals and humans. The communication device includes a keyboard having a plurality of hollow keys. Each key includes a switch which can be activated by the dolphin, and a two- or three-dimensional object which can be distinguished by dolphins from other objects in other keys both visually and through echolocation. Device also consisty of microprocessor which enables association of audible feedback (words, phrases) with each key and generate word or phrase when the proper key is selected. Thus, a dolphin can select a word or phrase by locating the associated key and by activating the switch for that key to communicate with humans or with another dolphin. Likewise, a human can activate the switch to generate a spoken word or phrase to communicate with a dolphin. A photosensor switch can be advantageously used as a non-contact switch to enable the dolphin to use its rostrum or other body parts to select a key by breaking an optical beam generated across the opening of the key. Device can also be used to record a session. Device was actually made on the basis of scientific research starting in 1985. The research has now been evolving for nearly three decades  (Dolphine researcher Denis Herzing).[3]

Do you know a story behing a registered aroma of freshly cut grass? Story of patented tennis ball? If you’d like to know something about that or you have an inner tendency to electify crawling insects than you will enjoy our next blog 😉 


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ig_Nobel_Prize

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/magazine/who-made-that-super-soaker.html

[3] https://patents.google.com/patent/US5392735A/en