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Obscure Patent: Adjustable elevated serving tray for pets


Written by Gene Quinn
President & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Patent Attorney, Reg. No. 44,294
Zies, Widerman & Malek
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Posted: June 6, 2009 @ 1:00 pm
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Adjustable elevated serving tray for pets
US Patent No. 7,207,290
Issued April 24, 2007

Now I think I have officially seen everything!  An adjustable serving tray for pets?  What is even more surprising is that according to the Background of the Invention this is a fairly crowded field of technology, with elevated pet feeders being well known.  Who knew?  Apparently it is not healthy for an animal, particularly a larger animal such as a large dog, to eat off the floor.  The Background also says that crawling insects can also easily get into the pets food when the bowl is on the ground.  I am sure that is a problem in at least some situations, but exactly how is it that an ant or other small insect would not be able to crawl up the leg of this adjustable tray?

The first paragraph of the Detailed Description of the Drawings explains:

The present invention provides an elevated serving tray providing a functional, economic and attractive method to elevate serving dishes to the correct height for small animals and pets, such as dogs and cats, enhancing digestion, improving accessibility to the food and water dishes, containing food spills and decreasing pest access to the dishes. The height adjustment of the feeding tray is simply done, without the use of tools or supplementary fasteners. The desired height adjustment may be easily chosen and accomplished for each of the two legs, and the desired height is thus locked into position so that it is not accidentally changed. At each of the possible tray heights, the invention provides the same stability. In the preferred embodiment having an raised edge around the tray, both liquid and solid spills from the animal’s dishes is contained. In the embodiment having a tray insert, the dishes are held in place by increased friction. The tray enables many different styles and sizes of dishes may be accommodated on the serving tray. The tray may be easily moved from one location to another without changing the height setting.

Here is claim 1:

1. An adjustable elevated serving tray for pets, comprising:

a) a tray portion having two opposing sides, and an upper planar surface and a lower surface;

b) two leg position brackets positioned on the tray portion parallel to each other along the opposing sides of the rectangular tray, the two leg position brackets having identical parallel side portions, each side portion having two ends, and having multiple angled height adjustment slots located at each of the two ends;

wherein each angled height adjustment slot at each end of the two ends of a particular side portion is at a different angle than the other angled height adjustment slots at that end, with the position and angle of each of the angled height adjustment slots on one of the two ends of each side portion being in mirror image relationship with an angled height adjustment slot on the other end of the same side portion, and identical to the position and angle of a corresponding angled height adjustment slot on the other side portion; and

c) two legs, each leg having a base portion, two upright portions and two bent ends, each of the legs being removably attachable to the two leg position brackets by insertion of one bent end into one angled height adjustment slot on one of the side portions and insertion of the other bent end into the angled height adjustment slot having the identical position and angle on the other side portion.

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Posted in: Gene Quinn, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Museum of Obscure Patents

About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

 

8 comments
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  1. I suppose there is no regulation that precludes patenting this kind of counter-Darwinian invention.

  2. Actually, if you have a larger dog, as it ages you will find that the eating position can have adverse health effects. My client discovered this, and launch his company around his initial products, the large dog feeders. This company is now publically traded (see http://www.ourpets.com) and quite successful at that. Never, EVER question the existence of a market niche you never heard of….there everywhere!

  3. John-

    I have no doubt that what you say is correct in terms of health of the animal, but why would someone use this rather than say putting the dish on a block of some sort?

    The problem that many inventors fall prey to is thinking that just because they can get a patent they are going to make money. A key question that must be asked is — would consumers elect to spend money on the product you are offering? The answer must consider what else is available, both patented and unpatented. If you are going to spend the time, money and energy to get a patent to make the effort worthwhile you will need to be able to collect a premium from consumers, which means that they will have to see the benefits provided by the invention and believe what makes the invention unique is worth paying for, rather than using something else, which may be cheaper.

    I have no doubt there is a big market for pet owners, many of whom have a substantial connection with their pets. I would just question whether individuals would spend money for a tray like this when getting a block of wood (for example) would achieve the same thing, presumably for less money.

    -Gene

  4. Gene-
    I am a little confused by your response. Didn’t John just say there is a BIG market for this type of product, i.e., “quite successful at that”? I don’t see the point of your response. Pet owners ARE the market, aren’t they?

    Most pet owners see the pet as part of the family. Human, almost. By the same logic as in the last paragraph of your post, you or I could just as easily eat off of a TV tray. But, I am guessing we both have a nice table that we paid good cash for. Same for pets and pet owners. John is saying that although we don’t think it would be a viable money-making market, it is.

    -Confused

  5. Confused-

    I am not sure that John is saying that this particular product has a larger market. Perhaps he is. If that is the case it is surprising though. Not because it relates to pets though. The pet industry is a large one, and because we have such an attachment to our pets, particularly dogs (at least in my household) there will always be available income to purchase items for our “best friends.” I also think inventions that relate to hobbies (such as fishing) are also lucrative because everyone has time and money for what makes them happy and what they find enjoyable.

    This being said, an important question for all inventors is whether that which they bring to the table is different enough and enough of an improvement to cause consumers to pay for it. Because of the investment necessary in obtaining patent protection and going to market the money collected needs to reflect a premium. So I always tell inventors to consider whether their invention is a big enough improvement over what already exists, including those things without patent protection, in order to get someone to pay for the patented product. For example, if a patented product costs $25 and there are other available products which are substitutes, and they cost $10, the question becomes whether the patented product is superior enough to warrant a $15 premium.

    I don’t know what the numbers would be for this invention, but if you wanted to raise your dogs bowl you could do that by buying some lumber at Home Depot and nailing together a structure on your own. You could also use a plastic crate or box of some sort. Would people do that? If the cost is too high and the effort is not much, maybe.

    All I am saying is that inventors need to consider cheaper alternatives which they will compete with.

    -Gene

  6. Oh, I see that your point was more generally that inventors should consider the financials of a product before seeking patent protection. All good points. I read your original post to be about this particular patent and case. My bad. Thanks for the clarification.

  7. No problem confused. I know when I write about obscure patents I usually poke fun at them. This invention just made me wonder if the inventor really thought through the availability of alternatives. If the inventor is making money from the invention more power to them! I also have a soft spot for dog related patents.

    Thanks for reading.

    -Gene

  8. Okay, not sure what this site is that I stumbled onto here but thought I would leave a comment. After reading some of the comments, I thought I would comment on this idea because I think it’s an excellent idea and I’m in the pet industry and know most of my clients would be interested. It seems as if most people think the “tv tray for dogs” is kind of silly but this is how I found the site by Googling TV trays for dogs, raised raised for dog bowls, etc. I have three doggies and they are all large dogs and should eat their food elevated to avoid Bloat, etc. I have been using other things but it’s just tacky and they fall apart (i.e., upside down basket, box, wooden tray type thing, etc.) but it’s not a nice thing to leave laying around when there is company. anyway I think it’s an excellent idea and wish I could find one http://www.asankadogs.com/index.html did have one on their website now I can’t find it.