PATENTS Nutty or Novel? (Jul, 1929)

There is definitely a joke about mustache rides in here somewhere.

PATENTS Nutty or Novel?

These Extraordinary devices hare all been granted patents by the U. S. Government

One-wheeled Sulky Would Make a Horse Laugh

THIS invention of a one-wheeled racing sulky even made the horse laugh; he doesn’t seem to realize that the joke is on him. What with keeping his balance and trying to steer the horse and dodging out of the way of the revolving contraption above his head, the gentlemanly jockey preserves his poise in a manner to warm the heart of Emily Post. With the addition of a garland of hibiscus and jonquils to the rim of

the wheel and a neckpiece of pink and purple taffeta around the driver’s neck, the ensemble can be pressed into service in Easter Parades and Fashion Shows, thus affording the enterprising race track promoter an additional source of revenue. The inventor doesn’t say just how the jockey maintains his balance, but it would seem from the picture that if he ever faw down he would go pretty much boom.

Parachute Fire Escape

FAITH, hope, charity, and a strong jaw seem to be the qualifications for the chap who essays to use the extraordinary parachute shown below. The idea is that the device is clamped to the head when one goes to bed, so that in

case the building burns down during the night the wearer can step out of a tenth story window and drop softly to the earth like the gentle rain from heaven. A pair of slippers with thick rubber soles is worn to lessen the shock of landing. The gentleman in the picture, appears to be traveling earthward at a rapid rate, as may be determined by the manner in which the tails of his Prince Albert are flapping in the breeze, but such is his confidence in the dependability of his chute that he is already shaking hands with himself.

Mustache Harness

A SIMPLE twist of the wrist, an easy loop of a rubber band around the ears, and this mustache harness is slipped in place where it has the situation, or rather the mustache, well in hand. Its purpose is to do away with the objectionable straining qualities of the approved type of he-man walrus mustache, the guard holding the mustache in reserve while coffee, soup, oysters, and similar liquid comestibles are safely transferred from table to tummy. Persons subject to seasickness also report that the guard has helped them in times of emergency, though it is probable that this particular use was not contemplated by the inventor. The air of confidence on the face of the gentleman in the picture is itself a strong testimonial as to the efficiency of this invention in doing what it claims to do.

10 comments
  1. Rick Auricchio says: March 31, 20119:02 am

    Still my favorite: Patent 5163447.

  2. Charlene says: March 31, 20119:26 am

    @Rick: LOL

    My favourite work-friendly patent is the one for chicken eyeglasses. You can see the inventor here on What’s My Line?

  3. Richard says: March 31, 201111:23 am

    My favorite work-friendly patent is 6368227, a patent for a method of swinging on a playground swing.

    It is also a useful illustration of the fact that a patent, by itself, is pretty worthless without the ability to find infringers and sue them to collect royalties. I know I’ve infringed on that patent. I’ve taught my kids to infringe on it. In fact, I know I discovered and used the methods described therein before the patent was granted, so I have prior art, though I’d be hard pressed to come up with documented proof of my prior art.

  4. Toronto says: March 31, 20111:23 pm

    Re: Mustache harness – Oysters are a liquid?

  5. LightningRose says: March 31, 20111:59 pm

    I thought the whole point to a mustache of that size was to strain flies out of one’s beer.

  6. whoozle whaazle says: March 31, 20113:20 pm

    I remember seeing the ‘Parachute Fire Escape’ patent somewhere else.

    Broken necks anyone? :D

  7. Hirudinea says: March 31, 20113:45 pm

    I thought the mustache harness was to keep it under control during mustache rides. ;)

  8. Jari says: March 31, 20113:49 pm

    Toronto, LighningRose: How about Oyster Stout?

  9. Stephen says: April 1, 20116:13 am

    Wouldn’t the act of jumping out of a window with a parachute attached to your HEAD either decapitate you or break your neck?

  10. John says: April 4, 20112:18 pm

    Patent 6368227 Actually a patent is pretty worthless if no one will pay you to license it or to pay you to build and sell your invention.

    The “inventor” was actually a five year old boy at the time. The story is revealed in New Scientist http://www.newscientist…

    The article says:
    Boy takes swing at US patents

    * 10:23 17 April 2002 by Jeff Hecht

    A five-year-old kid from Minnesota has patented a way of swinging on a child’s swing. The US Patent Office issued patent 6,368,227 on 9 April to Steven Olson of St Paul, Minnesota for a “method of swinging on a swing”. Olson’s father Peter is a patent attorney.

    The award has generated a mixture of chuckles and frustration at an overworked patent system unable to catch absurd applications. The patent covers moving a swing side to side or in an oval pattern. Children can get bored by swinging back and forth, or by twisting the swing to make it spin, the patent says.

    “A new method of swinging on a swing would therefore represent an advance of great significance and value,” it reads. Olson’s alternative is to pull on one chain at a time, so the swing moves towards the side being pulled.

    Peter Olson told New Scientist: “I had told him that if he invented something he could file a patent.” His son had not seen sideways swinging because the swings at his school are closely spaced, so he asked his father to file the application.

    The patent office initially rejected the application for prior art – citing two earlier patents on swings – but Peter Olson appealed, noting that neither was a method for swinging sideways. The patent was then issued.
    Definition of obviousness

    The US swing patent does not match an Australian patent on the wheel for sheer absurdity. However, in that case, an Australian lawyer was able to sneak the wheel patent through a fast-track application system. The US patent went through the full application procedure.

    Peter Olson says he was not trying to prove anything, just show his son how inventions and patents work. The Australian lawyer who received a patent on the wheel was trying to point out how poorly the system operated.

    The US Patent Office says it does not comment on individual patents, leaving it unclear how such an obvious idea won approval. A spokeswoman did say that the patent office uses a legalistic definition of obviousness: “That is not necessarily the conventional definition.”

    The swing patent could face reconsideration at the request of the inventor, third parties, or the patent director.

    When the laughter stops, silly patents filed by individuals are less a problem than trivial ones filed by large corporations, says Gregory Aharonian, publisher of the Internet Patent News.

    As an example, he cites US patent 6,329,919, a business-method patent issued in December 2001 to four IBM developers for a system that issues reservations for using the toilet on an aeroplane.

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