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?
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.
It is one again time to take pause and try and have a little bit of fun patent style. From time to time I like to profile specific patents, so what better way to kill two birds with one stone than to look for holiday themed patents? OK, maybe not your particular cup of tea, but work with me here and get into the spirit (pun intended).
Today is Halloween, as if you didn’t already know or figure out. Wikipedia explains: “Halloween (or Hallowe’en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, which commonly includes activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.”
The holiday patent du jour gives us the opportunity to explore the candy collecting aspects of trick-or-treating. More specifically, U.S. Patent No. 7,594,669 is for a portable container having wheels and a handle. What makes it worthy note on Halloween is that the container itself is either a pumpkin, witch, ghost, goblin, monster, vampire or werewolf. And yes, that is required in the broadest claim, claim 1. The pictures in the patent show a jack-o’-lantern version of the invention.
It is time once again to profile some patents in honor of the festive day. While many might not consider Valentine’s Day to be a major holiday worth of profiling patents, allow me to suggest that you test the theory by failing to acknowledge the amorous sentiment of the day and see just exactly how much of a major holiday your significant other considers it to be! Not that I would suggest giving heart shaped pepperoni slices to the love of your life (yes, patented, see below), but Valentine’s Day does need a proper celebration. In addition to the patents listed below be sure to also check out the Love Box, a patent from Valentine’s Day past.
“The present invention provides a florists’ gift box support that can be conveniently used to securely attach a rectangular gift box to an open-mouthed container simultaneously being used to hold a bouquet of flowers. The support holds the gift box adjacent to the flower bouquet so that the flowers compliment the gift box, thereby providing an attractive presentation of the gift to the recipient. More importantly, because the support allows quick and easy assembly of the floral kit, floral employees of even low skill can quickly and properly assemble the kit for delivery. Yet another advantage is that the support securely holds the gift box within the assembled kit so that the bouquet of flowers and the gift become one easily deliverable unit. Upon delivery, the recipient can easily remove the gift box from the support and there is no unsightly sticky residue left on the gift box… A method of assembling a floral kit is also provided.”
From US Patent No. 4,113,020, titled "Fire safety Christmas ornament."
It is that time of the year where when we prepare our homes for the arrival a jolly old magical chief elf who despite his enormous girth is still able to make his way down our narrow chimneys lickedy-split, while somehow managing not to get any soot on his pristine red and white trousers and overcoat.
In order to celebrate holidays I always like to profile some patents relative to the festivities, proving once and for all that the entire world does revolve around and can be answered by the creative and awe inspiring power of the patent system! Okay, maybe a touch of hyperbole there, but what do you expect? In any event, feel free to visit our growing list of Holiday Patents.
This year I asked Glen Kotapish of Planet Patent if he could provide me some examples of interesting or bizarre US patents that somehow relate to “Christmas trees.” I figured that Glen, the owner of a patent search firm, probably had come across an interesting Christmas tree patent or two over the years. Glen did not disappoint! Incidentally, if you are into bizarre patents I highly recommend visiting his Bizarre Inventions Weird Inventions page.
The end of 2009 is rapidly approaching, and with it will come the end of the first decade of the new century and millennium. I always try and find some interesting patents to help celebrate the holidays, and given that we are wrapping up the decade I thought it might be appropriate to limit these New Year Patents to those issued since 2000. While this is not intended to be an exhaustive list, here are a few that caught my attention.
We at IPWatchdog wish everyone a Happy New Year. May 2010 be filled with happy times and wonderful memories!
This invention, which was never patented, relates generally to illuminated celebratory devices and, more specifically, to a New Year’s Ball Dropping down a vertical support pole reaching the bottom at a predetermined time. Upon reaching the bottom lights are activated on a year display sign and flashing the ball lights to announce the onset of the New Year’s Celebration. According to the patent application the invention overcame the short comings of the prior art by providing a New Year’s Ball Drop having a timing device assure the ball reaches its destination at a precise moment of celebration and lighting up a New Year display sign. I suspect the pole and ball drop set up in Times Square in New York City was the prior art, among other things. According to PAIR the application was abandoned on August 22, 2005 for failure to respond to the non-final Office Action. A notice of abandonment was mailed on August 26, 2005.
It is hard to believe that this year is almost over, and it is Christmas 2009! It seems the older I get the faster the years pass, just like my parents always warned me would be the case some day. I still remember how the minutes would drag on forever on Christmas morning waiting for my parents to get moving, make sure the lights were on and film was in the camera. Those were the days! In any event, we at IPWatchdog wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and hope you all make some wonderful memories to cherish for a lifetime!
Without further ado, to help facilitate the spirit in a patent sort-of way, here are some patents that fit the season, and don’t forget to check out my all-time favorite – the Santa Claus Detector, which I profiled last Christmas.
Structural improvement of toy Christmas tree US Patent No. 6,053,798
Filing date: August 26, 1998
Issue date: April 25, 2000
I don’t have the box handy, it seems pretty clear that this device is the famous (or infamous) Dancing Douglas Fir (see YouTube Video), or an improvement thereof. The device is explained to be a structural improvement of toy Christmas tree. The lower part of the foundation unit has a motor with intermittent off-and-on rotation controlled by a control circuit board installed in the base. The motor being linked with a reduction gear and a spring to drive a toy lower jaw part at the lower part of the foundation unit, and a driving rod to activate a toy eyebrow. According to the patent “the control circuit board will play happy music and flash LED light… while the motor will drive the eyebrows and mouth of the Christmas tree to flip up and down and open and close, to create a fun image…” My parents have a Dancing Douglas Fir, so I will have to take a look and see if there is, in fact, a patent number when I visit next week.
It is that time of the year for Americans to give thanks for all the many things we have and enjoy — family, friends, country and of course patents! Here is hoping that everyone has a restful, peaceful and very Happy Thanksgiving!