Obscure Patent: The Pest Death Ray

Method and system for exterminating pests
US Patent No. 6,647,661 [
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Issued November 18, 2003

This invention first locates pests, weeds, pathogens and the like through the use of a microwave scanner. Once located, said vermin are then immediately killed by what the patent calls “a lethal impact.” Being skeptical at this point you are probably expecting to see something unsophisticated like the apparatus being dropped onto the pest, like you might expect to happen to Wile E. Coyote, super genius, in one of the Roadrunner cartoons. But that is definitely not the lethal impact in question. No, this invention comes straight from Dexter’s Laboratory! The lethal impact in question is a blast of guided radiation of up to 10 Giga Hertz, with a radiation capacity of up to 100 Kilo Watts, for duration as long as 3 minutes! Not to worry though, the patent explains that the blast of radiation will be localized. Nevertheless, you might want to get one of those lead smocks from your dentist prior to use.

On a related point, do we really want to allow folks to go around with their own death ray? In terms of patent law that is not a question we ask, although given this patent maybe such questions should be asked. The utility requirement does not require that the invention be safe or even produce more good than bad. It just needs to do what you say it does. So, if you want to develop a method of killing a cockroach that requires placement of high explosives in between infested walls, that would be quite useful in the patent sense, albeit completely destructive in every other sense.

The Technical Description of the Invention in this patent contains the following description:

The aim of the present invention is achieved by providing a method for exterminating pests, weeks and pathogens wherein they are exterminated through a lethal impact. They are killed in their habitats and/or in their preliminarily localized places of residence and locations. The lethal impact is effected by means of a direct guided radiation with high-frequency waves having a frequency ranging from 0.9 to 10 GHz, a radiation capacity 0.5 to 100 KWt and duration of 10 s to 3 min.

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