Improvements: Learning with the Hitch Mounted Toilet Seat

By Gene Quinn
June 9, 2010

 

An updated version of this article appears at:

 

http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2014/05/03/the-successful-inventor-patenting-improvements/id=49396/

 

 

 

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 9 Comments comments.

  1. Michael Feigin, Esq., NY, NJ, PA Patent Attorney June 10, 2010 11:05 am

    As John White says in the PLI class… if it kills the grass, it’s useful. If it helps it grow, it’s useful. It’s a very easy burden to meet… but only patentable if it’s a non-obvious way to do it.

  2. M.E. Scoon June 10, 2010 12:00 pm

    Hello Gene:

    Great article. A couple of thoughts about the toilet seat inventions.

    #3 may not have known about #1 because #1 may not have come up in the prior art search if “hitch mounted” was the term used instead of “vehicle mounted”. Moreover, the vehicle mount appears to be a special adaptation solely used for the portable toilet (on cars). Whereas the hitch mount (seen mainly on trucks and recreation vehicles) could also be used for towing.

    Although both are hitch mounted, #3 would not have known about #2 before filing because #3’s earlier filing date (nonprovisional). I imagine if #3 had known about #2’s existence, it would not have bothered to file it’s own application.

  3. IANAE June 10, 2010 12:11 pm

    All three appear equally useful for discouraging tailgating, but some type of seatbelt would be a nice touch.

  4. M.E. Scoon June 10, 2010 12:35 pm

    Bravo IANAE! The very thought is hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

  5. Stuart June 10, 2010 5:50 pm

    I cant remember seeing a member of the patent profession go to such lengths to explain what is required for an invention to be patentable – critical information for every inventor – so congratulations!

    ‘Trouble is this blog is mostly (though not only) read by the profession rather than the people who need to learn the criteria most. Inventors are not often known for being keen readers – nor listeners – not to members of ‘ A Lucky Profession ‘ nor anyone else for that matter.

    Before going any further I thought I would see if ‘ hitch mounted toilet seats ‘ were available – surely no one would buy such a product ? Lo I found several, including your # 1 – aptly named ‘ Bumper Dumper ‘ (and ‘ Room-A-Long Privacy Tent ‘ – phew) – widely distributed in the US + The ‘ Off-Road Commode ‘ – well at least it rhymes.- just shows nearly everything may be sold, so there must be a need.

    I generally explain patentability requirements to inventors BRIEFLY – that to be patentable an invention needs to be ‘ useful ‘ (clarified) and include a sufficiently different and clever inventive step beyond what has been done previously anywhere – patented or otherwise – and not obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art (POOSITA) of the invention, or anyone else – it doesn’t necessarily need to be better – just sufficiently and inventively different . If its a combination of other things it needs to be greater than the sum of its parts i.e 1+1 =3

    ” Lucky Profession ” – that’s the intriguing title of a very interesting book concerning the history of the Institute of Patent Attorneys of Australia, founded in 1890 – as far as is known, the worlds first licensed patent attorney was registered in the former colony (now State) of South Australia under legislation enacted in 1877 – the worlds first licensed firm is still operating .

  6. Chris June 11, 2010 4:51 pm

    “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
    — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    More complicated does not always mean the invention is better or newer. In fact, the opposite is frequently true. Anyone who’s ever tried to mass-manufacture a product or even filed their own taxes knows that all too well.

  7. Gene Quinn June 11, 2010 7:33 pm

    Excellent observation Chris. Innovation frequently resides in doing something easier or more elegant. I encourage everyone to resist the temptation to say an invention makes it simple, or more simple. That trivializes the nature of the invention. It is, however, certainly true that an invention that uses less pieces and parts can be patentable and perhaps lucrative given the potential lower manufacturing costs.

    -Gene

  8. Roland June 21, 2010 7:45 am

    I like this example, as it is very accessible and clearly shows how variations can also be patented. However, in pondering on this subject I wonder, given the current emphasis on making patent applications as broad as possible, to what extent the original patent would need to be redrafted so that it would still be awarded but would effectively make the other patent appliactons and variations of the hitch mounted toilet seat infringements.

  9. tool honing March 15, 2011 2:31 am

    There are two basic types of modern toilets: the dry toilet and the wet (flush) toilet, the latter being the most commonly known and producer of blackwater. The dry toilet needs no plumbing for water input or evacuation, but is often coupled with a ventilation system.