Don't Try to Steal This Design...
Obtaining a U.S. patent on a new invention isn't as simple as checking a few boxes and hitting “send” on an electronic application. It requires fees, descriptions, claims explaining the boundaries of the patent, legal advice, and a review process by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
It can end up getting pretty complicated, which is why the number of patents on bizarre inventions can be surprising.
But there are plenty of weird patents out there, so if you're planning to design a Hannibal Lector-esque mask to help yourself kick that temptation to snack when you're on a diet, think again – it's already been patented.
Bloomberg compiled a list of some of the stranger patents out there. Here are some intended to help Americans...
Russian Roulette Without the Death
Ever get a burning desire to play Russian roulette but avoid the ultimate risk? Apparently Steve Zuloff of Los Angeles did. His patent, U.S. Patent 8,257,134, adds the thrill that a Nerf gun never could with none of the risk of a real gun.
It consists of a device that looks like a revolver and instead contains a spring-loaded pin that will pop a balloon loaded into the attached metal ring. The shock of the balloon pop should be enough to boost adrenaline without drawing blood.
Tired at Work
Do you always start to doze at work every time two o'clock rolls around? You're in good company. But maybe that afternoon cup of coffee that seems to perk up your co-workers just doesn't do it for you.
Instead, grab a nap with U.S. Patent 8,256,049, the Compact Sleep Enhancement Kit. It's specially designed for sleep sitting up. There's a sling for your hands to prop up your chin and cover your eyes, and there's even a padded cushion to keep your elbows propped up.
Or you could try the Head Boom, patented in 1979. This handy device clamps to your desk and has a long arm with a soft end for you to rest your forehead. You could use it to support an achy neck or grab a quick nap while keeping your head supported.
Do you have a lot of pesky birds that just won't stop leaving their marks on your car, roof, or driveway? You don't want to hurt the birds, just scare them a little.
Preston Jones obtained U.S. Patent 8,251,008 on what is essentially a catapult to fling ice at the birds.
Why ice, you may ask? Well, according to the inventor, “The use of ice is environmentally friendly and will not jam gutters.” It works with a timer or remote control, but ice melts. So you have to have the time to sit there with a bucket of ice, ready to refill any time that flock of pigeons flies by.
Lorraine and Mark More seemed to think this wasn't good enough, so they patented the Bird Diaper. Just catch the bird, strap the device on, and it will catch the excrement.
Alright, it's actually for pet birds, but the bird vest with an attachable leash is still a little bizarre.
Is your diet not working out? Do you have trouble preventing yourself from snacking? Two patents are here to help!
The Dieter's Dam, patented in 1989, is much milder than the mouth cage I mentioned earlier. The barriers are smaller, and it doesn't prevent you from talking, but it certainly makes it hard to eat. Of course, you'd have to be okay with walking around with a barrier on your lips.
If you don't like that, there's the Hand-Near-Mouth Alarm. It looks like a watch, but it actually uses sensors to sound an alarm when your hand approaches your mouth. It's multi-functional, too – you can use it to quit smoking or drinking. Of course, there's no stopping you from using the other hand...
It's hard to believe these patents made it through the approval system. Was there really anyone who was going to steal the idea of the Dieter's Dam?
Perhaps it isn't so hard to get a patent – these guys did it. But all businesses have to get their start somewhere.+1
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