Obscure Patent: System for Walking a Snake

By Gene Quinn
May 2, 2009

Collar apparatus enabling secure handling of a snake by tether
US Patent No. 6,490,999
Issued December 10, 2002

This invention is one of the all-time greats in the Obscure Patent category, and is back by popular demand (or at least the request of a longtime IPWatchdog.com reader).  As in practically all patents, there are multiple claims. The first claim and those depending from the first claim relate to the collar apparatus that allows for controlling the snake. While that is funny enough, no doubt, the real knee slapping humor associated with this invention comes when you read that claim 11 covers a system for walking a snake! (See picture above). In order to keep this appropriate for family fun I will allow you, the reader, to insert your own joke here. Now, with that laugh over, what in the world was the inventor thinking?

As it turns out the Background of the Invention supplies the answer to the burning question about what the inventor was thinking. You see, most snake owners do not spend much time handling their snakes for fear of the snake getting lose and running, or slithering as the case may be, away. Apparently sunlight is good for snakes, so there is a real dilemma presented to the snake owner. Enter this collar, which allows for the snake owner to walk the pet. The patent explains that it is difficult if not impossible to create such an invention because snakes change size due to food intake and skin conditions.

Perhaps this invention is new and non-obvious, but is there a market? The old saying — build a better mousetrap and the world will come to your door — is true, but that is because people want to catch mice! Do people really want to walk snakes? Just because you get a patent doesn’t mean you will have a market. A great patent on a product that has no market is still just a money pit.

The Patent Abstract says:

A collar for collaring a snake has an elongated collar section forming a physical collar when wrapped around the body portion of the snake. The collar further has a support section for supporting an attachment mechanism for accepting attachment of a tether and a connector system comprising at least two components affixed to strategic portions of the collar section for securing the collar in place around the body portion of the snake. The length of the collar section is such that a portion thereof overlaps itself when fitted around the snake providing an adjustable interface containing separate components of the connector system whereby mating the connector components together. secures the collar in place on the snake. In one embodiment the collar apparatus further includes a concertina movement-neutralization device for reducing concertina movement through the collar.

Claim 1 reads:

1. A collar apparatus for collaring a snake comprising:

an elongated collar section forming a physical collar when wrapped around the circumference of a strategic body portion of the snake;

a support section associated with the collar section, the support section for supporting an attachment mechanism for accepting attachment of a tether; and

a connector system comprising at least two components affixed to strategic portions of the elongated section for securing the collar in place around the strategic body portion of the snake;

characterized in that the length of the collar section is such that a portion thereof overlaps itself when fitted around the snake providing an adjustable interface containing separate components of the connector system whereby mating the connector components together secures the collar in place on the snake and wherein the key-shape design of the collar provides a light-weight and flexible collar wherein no metallic parts touch a snake when collared.

Claim 11 reads:

11. A system for enabling collaring, tethering, and walking of a snake comprising:

a collar apparatus for collaring the snake, the collar apparatus including an elongated section forming a physical collar when wrapped around the circumference of a strategic body portion of the snake, a support section associated with the collar section, the support section for supporting an attachment mechanism for accepting attachment of a tether and a connector system comprising at least two components affixed to strategic portions of the elongated section for securing the collar in place around a strategic body portion of the snake and wherein the key-shape design of the collar provides a light-weight and flexible collar wherein no metallic parts touch a snake when collared;

a tether for attaching to the collar apparatus; and

an elongated rod having a handle section strategically located at one end and a hook affixed to the end opposite the end supporting the handle section;

characterized in that a user placing and securing the collar apparatus on a snake attaches the tether to the collared animal enabling the user to release the snake under control of the attached tether and wherein the elongated rod is used to provide an extra measure of control for retrieving the tethered snake or when changing the direction of movement of the tethered snake.

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 1 Comment comments.

  1. EuropeanPatent May 3, 2009 2:48 am

    Nice invention !

    For those interested in obscure patents, here is another “museum” :
    http://europeanpatentcaselaw.blogspot.com/search/label/Invention%20de%20la%20semaine