Skin-irritating game machine [ PDF ]
US Patent No. 6,561,905
Issued May 13, 2003
This one is almost too good to be true! Bring on the electro-shock treatment. This patent covers the invention of a hand-held electronic game that outputs a voltage to irritate the skin of a player who loses. Can you imagine the lawsuits this would create if it were ever to be marketed? Even if the product is relatively safe there would certainly be product liability suits, and the children rights activists would have a field day against parents who would actually buy an electro-shock game boy. From a patent standpoint I wonder whether this should be patentable. The subject matter seems fine, and utility is no problem, but while I cannot place the reference I am sure I have seen some B movies that have included devices similar to this one, and I would bet that some psychology students somewhere have tried this, or something similar, in a controlled environment.
Perhaps the lesson here is that a prior art search for patentability purposes is quite different than a prior art search for invalidity purposes. The Patent Office seems well equipped to find prior US Patents related to an invention. The Patent Office is far less equipped to find other relevant prior art, which will undoubtedly surface if and when a patent infringement law suit is filed. Not that this invention is or will ever be the subject of a lawsuit, but inventors and entrepreneurs should recognize the difference between obtaining a patent, which is becoming increasingly easy, and obtaining a patent that will make money and withstand challenge.
“A skin-irritating game machine include a main unit and a plurality of control cables respectively connected to the main unit, each control cable having two metal contact elements adhered to the skin a respective player to form a respective electric loop through which a voltage is outputted from the main unit to the player who loses the game.”
What the Patent Says
Not much more to say here. The Summary of the Invention is rather brief, so I will let that speak for itself at this point. The Summary of the Invention says:
The present invention provides a skin-irritating game machine, which can be used to play games as well as to stimulate the circulation of blood. According to the present invention, the skin-irritating game machine comprises a main unit and a plurality of control cables. The main unit comprises a control circuit assembly, a plurality of input buttons for signal input into the control circuit to set a predetermined reference value, and a plurality of electric sockets respectively connected to the control circuit assembly. The control circuit assembly comprises a battery power supply, an input circuit, an IC chip, and a skin-irritating control circuit. The control cables are respectively connected to the electric sockets of the main unit, comprising a cable, an electric plug disposed at one end of the cable and connected to one electric socket of the main unit, two metal contact elements connected in parallel to one end of the cable remote from the electric plug and adapted for adhering to the skin of a player, and a button connected between the cable and the metal contact elements. When the player presses the button of the respective control cable after a reference value had been set through the buttons of the main unit, a signal is provided to the IC chip for comparison with the set reference value, and the IC chip drives the skin-irritating control circuit to send an irritating voltage through the metal contact elements of the respective control cable to irritate the skin of the player if the value of the comparison result is beyond a predetermined range of the set reference value.