By now it is certain that anyone living in any civilization around the world knows that Michael Jackson, the acclaimed entertainer and eccentric cultural icon, passed away late yesterday afternoon reportedly from an as yet unexplained cardiac arrest. Many will no doubt be focusing on Jackson’s contribution to the entertainment industry, and perhaps even his ownership of the copyrights to the songs written by The Beatles‘ John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney. Few will likely focus on Michael Jackson the inventor though. Yes, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was an inventor and received a United States Patent in 1993 for an invention titled Method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion. Here are some of the images of the Jackson patent, US Patent No. 5,255,452:
In the Description of the Prior Art contained it explains:
Music entertainers and dancers are constantly searching for new and interesting elements which can be incorporated into their musical and dance performances. Interesting stage design, lighting, fog generators, laser light shows, and large video screens all enhance the appealability of live and recorded performances. Many popular music and dance entertainers expend great efforts in enhancing and choreographing their performances and dancing. In the past, a professional entertainer, one of the inventors herein, has incorporated dance steps in his recorded video performances, wherein he and other dancers would lean forward beyond their center of gravity, thereby creating an impressive visual effect. This effect was accomplished by the use of cables connecting a harness around the dancer’s waist with hooks on a stage, thereby allowing the dancer to lean forward at the required degree. However, since this requires stagehands to connect and then disconnect the cables, it has not been possible to use this system in live performances. Moreover, the cables obviously restricted arm and body movements.
The inventor described in the first sentence of the second paragraph above was none other than Michael Jackson.
The Summary of the Invention explains:
The present invention overcomes the above noted deficiencies of the previously employed cable system by providing specialized footwear and a moveable hitch or post to which the specialized footwear can be detachably engaged to allow the footwear wearer to lean forward on the stage, with his or her center of gravity well beyond the front of the shoes, thereby creating the desired visual effect. The invention provides a new design for shoes which will allow his or her performing artist, by engaging the shoes onto an upstanding post positioned to project upwardly from a stage at a predetermined time, to lean forwardly to put his or her center of gravity beyond the front or rear of his shoes, thereby creating the desired gravity defying interesting visual effect.
1. A system for engaging shoes with a hitch mans to permit a person standing on a stage surface to lean forwardly beyond his or her center of gravity, comprising: at least one shoe having a heel with a first engagement means, said first engagement means comprising a recess formed in a heel of said shoe covered with a heel slot plane located at a bottom region of said heel, said heel slot plate having a slot formed therein with a relatively wide opening at a leading edge of said heel and a narrower terminal end rearward of said leading edge, said recess being larger in size above said terminal end of said slot than is said terminal end of said slot; and a second engagement means, detachably engageable with said first engagement means, comprising a hitch member having an enlarged head portion connected by a narrower shank portion to a means for raising and lowering said head of said hitch member above and substantially level with or below said stage surface, said head portion being larger in size than said terminal end of said slot and said shank portion being narrower than said terminal end of said slot, wherein said hitch member can be moved through apertures in said stage surface between a projecting position raised above said stage surface and a retracted position at or below the stage surface, and when said head portion of said hitch member is raised above said stage surface, said first engagement means can be detachably engaged with said projecting hitch member, thereby allowing a person wearing the shoes to lean forwardly with his or her normal center of gravity beyond a front region of said shoes, and maintain said forward lean.
Whether you liked Michael Jackson or not, it is hard to argue that he was not an extremely influential player in the music industry for at least 4 decades. His passing comes as a shock to many, and early reports suggest that he may have fallen in much the same manner as did the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley. It is far to early to tell. Undoubtedly we will learn more in the coming days, weeks and months, and it is all but certain that Jackson will dominate TV, magazines and the Internet even from the grave. Today we celebrate him as an inventor, partaking in a process that so many innovate Americans have. In the coming days we will explore his copyright portfolio, and even his impact on law students subjected to considering the hypothetical questions of copyright law professors regarding whether Weird Al Yankovic infringed Jackson’s work, which as my former students know is a favorite topic of conversation for me, and a popular exam question on many of my copyright law final exams.