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Holiday Patents

How Thanksgiving Leftovers Lead to the Invention of LASIK

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 @ 11:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Evolution of Technology, Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IBM, IP News, Articles, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Thanksgiving Patents

IBM Scientists James J. Wynne and Rangaswamy Srinivasan receive the National Medal of Technology from President Obama in 2013.

The world of optical care was revolutionized during the 1990s through the expanded use of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, or LASIK eye surgery. The incredibly high precision surgery offers remarkably low instances of negative side effects when compared with other optical surgeries because of the fine precision of the lasers used in these procedures. Since the use of lasers to etch and otherwise modify living tissue was first discovered in IBM research facilities in the early 1980s, a range of laser-assisted surgical procedures for vision correction have been developed, such as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK). Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the findings from its most comprehensive study to date on LASIK eye surgeries in the U.S., which showed that about 95 percent of survey respondents receiving LASIK surgery achieved 20/20 vision or better. The report also showed that ghosting, halos and other visual aura decreased in LASIK patients after their procedures as well.

November 15 of this year was the 26th anniversary of the issue of one of the seminal patents in the field of laser-assisted vision correction surgeries. However, it wouldn’t be until after the filing of the patent application that anyone would think to use this laser technology as a surgical procedure for the eyes. Here at IPWatchdog, we return to our Evolution of Technology series on with a profile of the intriguing progression of the use of LASIK procedures in vision care. The use of excimer lasers in vision correction procedures has revolutionized that field from the humble beginnings of corneal surgery in the 1940s towards today, a time when more than 16 million LASIK operations have been performed in the United States. The story of this technology involves a trio of researchers who were simply trying to find new uses for lasers, and perhaps the most practical use of Thanksgiving leftovers that the world has ever seen.

Top 10 Iconic (and Patented) Toys

Posted: Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013 @ 3:54 pm | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 7 comments
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Posted in: Authors, Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann

Christmas is upon us, and most of the world celebrating this holiday have either settled into a comfortable state of waiting for Jolly Old Saint Nicolas (a.k.a. Kris Kingle) to arrive, or are growing ever more anxious to find the last few stocking stuffers, Christmas gifts or dinner items they need. Roast Beast anyone?

Although the snow and ice come and go every year, as the tale of Frosty the Snowman reminds us, the radio always seems to play the same, familiar music every Christmas. While much of the Christmas season is familiar and clad with tradition, every new Christmas season will have its own series of hot new gifts, especially toys for the littlest members of the family.

Since America’s earliest days, there have been a lot of fun toys that have come through the consumer marketplace in the United States and globally. Many of these have become so iconic that their brands have become household names and have become synonymous with a moment in time for America’s youth. Some of the most popular of these eternal toy brands continue to show up year after year under Christmas trees.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a traditional Christmas at IPWatchdog unless we spent some time profiling some cool innovations that relate to the holiday season. So today, with Christmas firmly in mind, we want to take a look at the importance that utility and design patents have held for the toy industry. With the hours winding down before Santa Claus makes his way down chimneys across the world, join us as we take a look back at some of the most popular children’s toys of all time, as well as the intellectual property behind them all. Our journey includes iconic toys such as the Hoola Hoop, Slinky, Play-Doh, Easy Bake Oven, Game-Boy, the Frisbee, YoYo, Lego blocks, the Magic 8 Ball and the Etch A Sketch.

Thanksgiving Patents: Turkey Frying Safety

Posted: Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 @ 6:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 3 comments
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Posted in: Fun Stuff, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Patents, Thanksgiving Patents

Yesterday President Barack Obama took part in what over the past several decades has become a traditional part of the Thanksgiving holiday in Washington, DC. This year the White House website took the tradition to a new height when it allowed the public to vote on which of two turkeys would receive the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey. The turkey named Popcorn edged out Caramel for the honor. The White House says both turkeys will be spared, receiving official Presidential turkey pardons.

At this festive time of  year we always profile a handful of turkey patents, because after all what better way is there to celebrate a holiday than to celebrate American ingenuity? Even the Wall Street Journal did a front page article on Wednesday, November 27, 2013, about turkey innovations and inventors, an article in which I was quoted.

Before proceeding with discussion of turkey frying patents, allow me to on this Thanksgiving day express my thanks. For the 5th consecutive years we have been selected one of the top 100 legal blogs by the American Bar Association, and this year we were added to the ABA Blawg Hall of Fame, which currently is a select group of only 20 legal blogs that have exhibited long term excellence. It is gratifying to receive such an honor, but without our wonderful guest contributors and regular columnists it wouldn’t be possible to publish on such diverse topics. So a special thank you to everyone who has contributed through the year! I also want to say a special thanks to those who have consulted with me on articles and stories, many times on background. You know who you are and your contributions are greatly appreciated. Finally, I want to thank our readers. Five years ago we averaged about 25,000 unique monthly visitors, and this year we are on pace to average close to 120,000 unique monthly visitors with traffic growing practically every month. Without our readers and the many who take time to leave comments there wouldn’t be much point in providing a pro-IP, pro-Patent point of view. Thank you all!

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Fireworks Patents

Posted: Thursday, Jul 4, 2013 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Authors, Fun Stuff, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

To celebrate the 4th of July IPWatchdog wants to take a look back at some of this year’s most intriguing patent applications and issued patents related to fireworks. Brilliant, vibrant displays of reds, whites and blues streaking across the sky are a typical mark of this patriotic celebration of America’s declaration of independence from Great Britain. Although safety is an important issue to consider, people in many states are able to purchase their own fireworks and present displays of all shapes and sizes.

Today, we commemorate some advancements within the firework industry. Two patent applications we feature below have some interesting implications to the future of fireworks. One application would protect a kit that allows inexperienced consumers to easily set a fireworks display which is choreographed to music. Another application would provide more information to potential customers who want to view a firework in action before buying one.

A number of patents issued recently by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office serve to improve safety and manufacturing efficiency for fireworks. One patent provides a new combustion chamber design for the use of propellant materials that create less smoke, while another patent provides launcher reinforcements to protect spectators if a firework is installed improperly. A final patent we feature here protects a system of manufacturing firework cylinders to prevent inconsistencies in design that occur often with current manufacture processes.

Happy Easter 2013! Patents for the Occasion

Posted: Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 @ 10:30 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Museum of Obscure Patents, Patents

Happy Easter everyone! It is that time of the year where children go searching for eggs full of candy hidden by a giant rabbit, or perhaps awaken to a basket full of candy also mysteriously delivered by said giant rabbit! Certainly not the level of hype or commercialization associated with Christmas, but Easter still drives commerce. According to the National Retail Federation, total spending by American’s on Easter for 2013 is estimated to reach $17.2 billion. In 2012, spending on Easter candy alone was $2.1 billion, coming in just above the $2 billion spent on Halloween candy. See Sweet Easter Facts.

Even President Obama will be helping the engine of commerce the day after Easter with the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Indeed, the First Family will host the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House. Some 35,000 people from all over the U.S. will be in attendance for games, stories, and, of course, the traditional egg roll.

But here we focus on intellectual property. So what better way to celebrate Easter than by reading patents? Okay, I’m sure you can think of many better ways to celebrate Easter, including watching the Elite Eight match-ups that will determine two of the teams that will make it into the Final Four.

In any event, here are a couple patents with an Easter theme to help celebrate the occasion in patent style! Also, as an added bonus at the bottom I give you the top 10 reasons why chocolate Easter bunnies make better gifts than real bunnies, courtesy of the National Confectioners Association (via the Easter Bunny himself)!

10 Fun Love Patents for Valentine’s Day

Posted: Thursday, Feb 14, 2013 @ 10:15 am | Written by Stewart Walsh | Comments Off
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Posted in: Authors, Fun Stuff, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Museum of Obscure Patents, Patents

Valentine’s Day is again upon us, a day for lovers to express their undying affection for one another by giving gifts of chocolates, flowers, and love coupons. It’s also a day for inventors to strap on their thinking caps and come up with new ways to bring a little more love into the world. For your inspiration, here are 10 fun patents and applications for the lover in all of us. Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. Improved Telegraphy

Alexander Graham Bell’s Improved Telegraphy patent is not particularly romantic, but for the fact that it happened to be filed on Valentine’s Day 1876. With a coincidence, it’s easy to jump into a bit of musing about early love messages sent via Morse code: – .  .- — —


2. Love Tester

The early 20th Century’s Men of Science believed that along with the smashing of the atom and the triumph over engine knock (with leaded gasoline), all the universe’s mysteries might one day be solved. Even the Mysteries of Love. This is a design patent for the face of a love tester machine.  Just one penny and you could get reliable data about the “Measure of Your Sex Appeal.”

Valentine’s Day Gifts, with a Patent Twist

Posted: Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 @ 8:30 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Fun Stuff, Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Museum of Obscure Patents

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. In fact it is only one week away, so if you don’t already have any plans in the works consider this a warning shot across the bow!

There is a lot riding on the proper selection of gift on Valentine’s Day. If you pick a gift like a kitchen gadget, no matter how cool, even if it is a counter-top paper towel holder on wheels or a bagel slicer shaped like a bagel (see Successful Inventions) you should anticipate sleeping on the couch or in the dog house or on the couch in the dog house!

With this in mind we thought we might point to a couple tried and true holiday gifts that are sure to win the heart of your significant other, or at least insure that you don’t wind up with an awful lot of explaining to do.

Of course, upon identifying the proper category of gift we then turn to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to find patent references to help further explore. And who said patents can’t be fun?

Essential New Year’s Eve Innovations

Posted: Monday, Dec 31, 2012 @ 1:39 pm | Written by Gene Quinn & Angel Krippner | 3 comments
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Posted in: Fun Stuff, Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Museum of Obscure Patents, Patents

Every year we all gather around and celebrate the new year. So that got us to thinking — what patents are there for devices that any self respecting raucous reveler ought to have on New Years Eve? As you might imagine, we found a few that seem appropriate to the occasion, proving that patented innovations are not only fun but they are everywhere!

Here is hoping that your night is safe and magical! Happy new year! See you in 2013!

Safety champagne cork

US Patent No. 4,474,302

October 2, 1984

This invention is a molded tethered safety closure device for use on bottles containing pressurized liquids such as champagne or sparkling wines comprising a cork or closure element and a retainer collar joined by an intercoupling section.

The problem this invention is intending to solve is explained in the patent: “The problem of premature or inadvertent explosive release of champagne corks is exacerbated by the fact that many lower priced champagnes and sparkling wines are closed by molded plastic corks.” You have to hate those problematic premature, inadvertent explosive releases!  Particularly on a festive occasion like New Years Eve!

Christmases Past: Lighting Decoration Patents 1927 – 1938

Posted: Tuesday, Dec 25, 2012 @ 6:00 am | Written by Angel Krippner | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Authors, Fun Stuff, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Patents

It is the time of year where we gather around the Christmas tree, exchange presents, spend time with family and friends and make merry. So what better way to be merry than to read about patents?

Frequent readers of IPWatchdog know that we look for any excuse to talk about patents and holidays provide an opportunity to discus thematically relevant patents for interesting innovations. This year we are focusing on Christmas lights.  Some of these patents are for Christmas tree lighting, some are for outdoor decorative lighting and we have one from the era that just caught our eye as we were researching. So sit back and enjoy the wonderful world of patents, Christmas style. And be sure and check out our other Christmas patent articles.

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Turkey Hunting Patents

Posted: Thursday, Nov 22, 2012 @ 6:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 5 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Patents, Thanksgiving Patents

On this most festive of American holidays, where we emerse ourselves with family, food and football, I am once again inspired to share some thematically appropriate patents. After all, what better way to celebrate a holiday than reading patents appropriate for the festivities?

Before proceeding immediately into the discussion of various turkey related U.S. patents, allow me to first present my yearly Thanksgiving public service announcement.  This announcement is not about the perils of eating too much turkey and falling asleep before dessert, or before you have gotten your appropriate fill of the NFL.  Rather, this public service announcement is for the mathematically, or at least geometrically, challenged in the audience.

If you are going to deep fry your turkey you MUST remember 2 things (at least).  First, make sure the turkey is completely thawed! You do not want to put something frozen into a pot of boiling oil!  Second, for goodness sakes don’t fill the turkey fryer to the top with oil and then put in the turkey!  Let Archimedes be your guide.

Christmases Past: Sleigh Patents of the1880s & 1890s

Posted: Sunday, Dec 25, 2011 @ 4:24 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Patents, Technology & Innovation

It is that time of the year where when we prepare to spend time with family and friends celebrating the holiday season. No other holiday is quite like Christmas in terms of the anticipation, not to mention the colossal magnitude of the commercialization of the holiday.  In any event, last night children all over the world were “nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” As the kids were in bed many adults might have tried to catch a glimpse of “a miniature sleigh and eight tinny reindeer;” or perhaps nine if Rudolph was along for the trip!

As I contemplated Twas the Night Before Christmas it started getting me to think about sleighs and then I wondered what kind of patents I might find on various state-of-the-art sleigh technologies from Christmases past.  So without further ado, and to celebrate the season, I present a look at a variety of sleigh related patents from the 1880s and 1890s.

My review of the state-of-the-art sleigh technologies shows that during the early 1880s more comfortable sleigh rides were on the minds of many an inventor, and by the mid to late 1890s improvements evolved to include additional features, such as removable seats, steps to assist one to enter and disembark from the sleigh and various steering mechanisms. Like virtually all reviews of patented technology, even such low tech inventions as sleighs, the ongoing evolution of improvement is apparent, which is the hallmark of innovation.  Make things safer, faster, cheaper or stronger.  Innovate to make operational improvements the users will greatly appreciate, such a smoother riding sleigh.  Such a review of sleigh technology also gives us a glimpse into life of the day by showing us the problems that creative members of society were working to solve.

Happy Thanksgiving and Turkey Frying Patents

Posted: Thursday, Nov 24, 2011 @ 12:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments
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Posted in: Fun Stuff, Gene Quinn, Holiday Patents, IP News, Articles, Patents, Thanksgiving Patents

Did you know that since President George H. W. Bush started the tradition of pardoning turkeys in 1989 there have been 24 turkeys to receive Presidential Pardons, sparing them from the dinner table?  Somewhat ironically, that first turkey to receive a Presidential Pardon was sent to Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia.  In any event, the latest two turkeys to receive a Pardon were Peace and Liberty, both who received a pardon by President Barack Obama in a ceremony held on the North Portico of the White House.

But was President George H. W. Bush the first to pardon a turkey?  According to the definitive history of turkey pardons on the White House blog, the answer is technically yes but not really yes.  While there are rumors that President Lincoln issued the first pardon at the behest of his son, it is known that in 1963 President Kennedy returned the turkey sent to the White House saying: “We’ll just let this one grow.”  Perhaps not exactly a pardon, but the turkey was spared the death penalty.