Environmental friendly animal excrement collector
US Patent No. 7,461,616
Issued December 9, 2008
Every once in a while I come across a patent that I know is going to become one of my all-time favorites, and this is certainly one of those patents. This may be the most ingenious of all inventions and I would still want to include it in my collection of Obscure Patents simply because of the primary patent drawing, shown to the left. Maybe the dogs I have had my entire are not the target audience because I know for sure that none of them would ever stand there quietly wearing a contraption like this. The thought of trying to get this on a dog and then what the dog would do to try and get it off is running through my head like a Seinfeld episode that never grows old. This invention appears to be something of a colostomy bag dogs! But if the invention works the way it seems like it is intended to work then I say all the neighbor dogs should be forced to wear one of these things so that they stop messing up my lawn!
In truth, I want to poke to much fun at the invention because if you read the issued patent it does seem like a lot of time and energy went into the drafting of the application. Given that I am a law professor trained to find mistakes in anything I review, I can spot a few things that I would have done differently, but the patent seems to be rather well written and serious in tone. It would appear that this type of collection system has been attempted before, but not as successfully as you would hope. This particular invention seems to be an improvement because it can be used for dogs having a long tail, as well as dogs having a relatively short tail, such as bulldog, Schnauzer, Doberman, and the like. It would appear as if the short tail dogs are the ones that have necessitated this improvement because the prior art was not quite as usable for short tail dogs.
The devil is always in the details, and this invention is absolutely no exception. There is quite a lot written about the structure of the harness, how the supporting base is structures and how the bags are attached to the unit. With this level of detail it is not surprising that a patent would be issued. I am not saying or suggesting that this is anything other than patentable, but it is a simple truth that the more detail you put into your invention the more likely that the invention is going to be worthy of a patent. This is due to the fact that the more that it described the more difficult it is to find something that is exactly identical, which would mean you have successfully overcome any novelty rejections. Likewise, the more detail you have the harder it is for the patent examiner to say that your invention is just a combination of known references. The more references one would need to combine the to render an invention obvious the less likely the obviousness rejection is a good or valid one.
So we can poke as much fun as we want to but in the back of all the minds of the dog owners who are reading you are no doubt wondering whether it would really work! Hope springs eternal, right? I don’t know whether it would work to any specific level of satisfaction, but you have to admit this is rather creative. So would you buy this for the dog lover in your life as a gift? What about a gag gift? Call me crazy, but I think this invention might just have some market appeal. If you doubt that then you ought to go into Pet Smart the next time you have a moment to spare and see what dog owners are willing to spend money on. If you ask me the best areas to invent in are those where folks either really need what it is that you have come up with and there are no substitutes, or in an area where people seem to have virtually unlimited disposable income. Regardless of the economy dog lovers are going to spend money on their pets, and the pursuit of the perfect pooper-picker-upper seems like a possible market winner to me!
In any event, here is what the Patent Abstract says:
An environmental friendly animal excrement collector includes: a supporting base including a first pad and a plurality of first magnetic tablets, the first pad being formed with a plurality of spaced apart first retaining holes that are distributed along the length of the first pad, each of the first magnetic tablets being received in a respective one of the first retaining holes; and a collecting device including a second pad, a plurality of second magnetic tablets, and a flexible collecting bag connected to the second pad. The second pad is formed with a plurality of second retaining holes. Each of the second magnetic tablets is received in a respective one of the second retaining holes and is attracted magnetically to a respective one of the first magnetic tablets.
And here is a little blurb from the Summary:
Therefore, the object of the present invention is to provide an environmental friendly animal excrement collector that can overcome the aforesaid drawbacks of the prior art, that permits the use of recycled or used bags as the collecting bag for collecting the animal’s excrement, and that facilitates replacement of the collecting bag and attachment and detachment of the collecting bag to and from the supporting base.
To see other obscure patents go to the Museum of Obscure Patents.