Obscure Patent: Flush Toilet for Dogs

By Gene Quinn
January 24, 2008

Flush toilet for a dog
US Patent No. 6,769,382 [ PDF ]
Issued August 3, 2004
 

The patent on this toilet for dogs reads almost like a Monty Python sketch really.  The Background of the Invention starts by explaining that domestic pets such as dogs provide love and companionship to human beings, but they also create the daunting task associated with, shall we say, “maintenance.”  The inventor laments the failed attempts of others to provide an indoor toilet facility for dogs.  Can you see the inventor setting up a non-obvious argument here?  If others have failed then the invention cannot be obvious, right?  I don’t think we need to worry about obviousness for this one though, but I digress.

The patent goes on to explain that because dogs “perform” in various standing positions the doggie toilet must be crafted with this uniqueness in mind.  The one thing that the inventor seems to leave out of the patent is how one would get the dog to use the toilet in the first place, which would seem to be the real groundbreaking invention.  After all, most of us are not Bruce Almighty and cannot simply snap our fingers and point to the toilet.

While we may be able to poke fun at this invention, quite easily I might add, we should at least take an opportunity to try and learn something from this patent.  The thing that jumps out at me is utility; in order for an invention to be entitled to receive patent protection it must be “useful.”  This utility requirement for patentability has absolutely nothing to do with what any one of use would consider a requirement that the invention be “useful” in the real world.  In order for an invention to satisfy the utility requirement it needs to do what you claim it does.  So if you were to invent a cure for cancer, say a hemlock, arsenic, cyanid concoction in a gasoline base and claimed that it would kill cancer cells when ingested this potion would be considered “useful” in the patent sense.  The fact that it would kill ever cell in your body, including cancer cells, is not something the Patent Office would concern themselves with.  That is an issue for the FDA!

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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Discuss this

There are currently 3 Comments comments.

  1. Benjie March 9, 2010 6:12 pm

    If you like this one, don’t miss pending application 11/912,510 and the litter kwitter. See more at http://www.litterkwitter.com 🙂 It actually does offer instructions in training your cat to use the apparatus until the cat just goes in the toilet on its own. Pure GENIUS!

  2. Sheila December 4, 2010 3:00 pm

    How does it work (video) please?
    How do you train the dog to use?

  3. Simon Morrison October 5, 2013 11:29 pm

    Err…. I have in fact made a flush dog toilet for my dog out of sheer exasperation… that flushes right to the sewer. Dog uses it whenever he feels like it 24/7. No training required. Not sure it’s good enough for Monty Python but everybody finds it pretty funny… Such a relief though (pun intended) and sure beats scooping the poop! No more of that! No smell! Clean garden! omg! http://www.dogtoilet.info 🙂