Fun in the Sun Patent Style: Let’s Go Surfing Now!

By Steve Brachmann
July 25, 2013

surfing_figureFor many summer weather enthusiasts, this time of year is the best for getting out on the water and surfing the largest waves they can find. Surfboards have been around since the 1940s and have grown in popularity as a summer pastime in coastal areas.

Although mostly a hobby, surfboards have been an intriguing focus for technology developers. In an earlier Summer Fun article at IPWatchdog, we took a look at a surfboard that collects solar energy to generate electricity. Sustainable surfboard manufacturing has been a focus, as evidenced by this SurferToday.com article that discusses how styrofoam packaging for TVs and other appliances can be reformed into surfboards. Some companies are even developing 3D printers capable of printing custom surfboards for many customers.

Today in IPWatchdog’s Summer 2013 Fun series, in  honor of the ongoing U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California, we’re featuring some of the most interesting new patent applications and issued patents related to surfing. Some of these newly devised innovations are designed to help a surfer save their physical energy. One patent application describes a new powered surfboard with a detachable chair for riding far out into a body of water. Another issued patent protects an attachable hard edge that can improve the performance of inflatable surfboards, which are easier to transport. A new four-pointed tail design from a patent application would improve a surfer’s speed and control on the water.

[Patent-Watch]

Better surfboard components are also described by some other official documents from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. A third issued patent protects an improved design for a surfboard ankle tether that improves rider safety. Finally, a last patent application has been filed to protect a system of measuring surfboard speed and displaying that information on an LCD screen.

Multiple-Use Dynamic Water Surfboard Device
U.S. Patent Application No. 20060292942

In order to catch the best waves, surfers must paddle their surfboards a good distance away from the seashore. Powered surfboards include a motor that allows a surfer to steer the surfboard out into the water without having to paddle, saving the surfer’s energy so they can surf for longer. These models include rudder fins, a control handle and handles which a user can operate to steer the powered surfboard.

This patent application, filed by Chung-d Liao of Taipei City, Taiwan, would add a few accessories to the powered surfboard that would improve a user’s experience. This powered surfboard design would include a detachable chair, a periscope and an inflatable body surrounding the surfboard that protects against collisions.

Claim 1 of this patent application would give the Taiwanese inventor the legal right to protect:

“A multiple-use dynamic water surfboard device having a power system for providing power to the dynamic water surfboard and a plurality of connecting holes or screw holes; whereby the dynamic water surfboard can be connected to a great or air inflation surfboard by using the connecting holes of screw holes so as to drive the great or air inflation surfboard, or the dynamic water surfboard can be used singly.”

Surfboard with the Function of Speed Measurement
U.S. Patent Application No. 20090042467

Surfing is a hobby or pastime for most enthusiasts, but some take their recreation seriously enough that they like to know certain pieces of data, such as turbulence and wave speed. Knowledge of this data can help a surfer adjust their technique to improve their speed or performance. However, surfboards aren’t typically outfitted with the proper instruments to determine accurate speed.

This patent application, filed by Chinese inventor Po-lung Huang, would protect a system of measuring and recording the relative speed of a surfboard on the water. This system includes a speed meter that is comprised of a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen display for showing data, a printed circuit board (PCB) for analyzing speed data and a waterproof power supply for providing electricity to the speed meter.

As Claim 1 explains, this application would protect:

“A surfboard with the function of speed measurement, including a surfboard body (10), characterized by a speed meter (20) fitted to the surfboard body (10) that can measure the surfing speed by itself and record the surfing speed and relevant numerical data.”

Attachment for Surfboard Leash
U.S. Patent 5795205

Surfers attach an ankle leash to their surfboard in order to keep their board nearby in the event of a spill; otherwise, in a large wave, the surfboard could end up many meters away if the surfer falls off. Current tethering methods involve a metal rod near the rear of the surfboard to which a leash can be tied. However, this requires surfers to alter their stance on the surfboard to accommodate the rod. Also, if a surfer falls, the rod is at an angle that the surfboard can drag the surfer along with the current, which can create a dangerous situation.

This patent, issued to inventors Rob Gantenbein and Andrew Jennings of San Luis Obispo, CA, protects the design of a surfboard tether that rests within a cavity that opens towards the rear of the surfboard. This allows a surfer to attach an ankle leash without having to accommodate a rod installed on the board’s surface. Also, this new configuration reduces the surfer drag known as “tombstoneing” that can occur when a surfer falls.

Claim 1 of this USPTO patent gives these two inventors the right to protect:

“An article attachable to a surfboard having an upper surface and a trailing edge, said article serving as an attachment for securing a leash to the surfboard and comprising:

a plug received within a rearwardly-opening cavity in the trailing edge of the surfboard, said plug including an internal passage extending from a first rearwardly-opening hole to a second rearwardly-opening hole, whereby a leash may be threaded through the internal passage and thereby secured to the surfboard.”

Stealth Tail Quad Surfboard
U.S. Patent Application No. 20080287018

Surfboard designs have implemented a number of configurations for the tail section of the board in order to give a surfer more speed or maneuverability on the water. Some tail section designs, like the “diamond” or “bat tail” designs, utilize anywhere from two to four points on the tail to cut through the water more swiftly. Other tail designs, like the “thumbtail” or “squash,” use no points and are smooth, allowing water to rush quickly behind the board.

A new tail design, outlined in this patent application filed by Bill Johnson of Oceanside, CA, uses a tail with four points and a groove cut through the tail to improve both speed and stability for surfers. The four corners are split up between two trailing edges, and the V-shaped notch is implemented between these two trailing edges. This design is supposed to greatly improve a surfer’s control of a board while riding a wave.

As Claim 1 states, Mr. Johnson is hoping to gain the legal right to protect:

“A surfboard comprising: a body portion formed to have side edges and to be substantially symmetrical about a longitudinal axis; said body portion having a contiguous front portion ahead of a transverse axis, a center section on either side of said transverse axis, and a tail section behind said transverse axis; said tail section having a substantially V-shaped notch formed so that the point of said V-shaped section is located on said longitudinal axis; said tail section having a trailing edge adjoining said substantially V-shaped section at a first end and a second end adjoining said side edge of the surfboard.”

Hard Edge for Inflatable Surfboard
U.S. Patent No. 8333630

Surfboards can be very heavy pieces of equipment, and even just carrying a surfboard to the water’s edge from a car can be tiresome. Some have attempted building inflatable surfboards that are much lighter to transport and can be air-inflated once a surfer has reached the water. However, these assemblies do not contain rigid edges, making it difficult for a surfboard to cut through a wave and ride the water.

This patent, issued to inventor Steven Bedford of Vista, CA, protects an attachable apparatus that can provide a rigid, hard edge to an inflatable surfboard. The patent description states that this will help the performance of inflatable boards approach that of rigid boards. This hard edge apparatus could be attached through adhesives or other anchoring mechanisms installed on the inflatable surfboard.

Claim 1 of this issued patent gives Mr. Bedford legal protections over:

“An apparatus for enhancing the performance of a surfboard, the surfboard having a top surface, a bottom surface, and a peripheral surface situated between the top surface and the bottom surface, each surface having a topographic shape, the surfboard further having a back end, a front end, and two sides situated between the front end and the back end, the apparatus comprising: an elongated flexible structure a main portion of which has a generally uniform L-shaped cross section with two legs meeting each other at a vertex, each leg having an leg inner surface and a leg outer surface, the leg outer surfaces meeting each other at the vertex at an angle, the leg inner surfaces meeting each other to form a main structure inner surface, the main structure inner surface having a topographic shape which is complementary to the topographic shape of a portion of the peripheral surface of the surfboard and a portion of the bottom surface of the surfboard adjacent to the portion of the peripheral surface; and means for attaching the main structure inner surface to the portion of the peripheral surface and the portion of the bottom surface of the surfboard; the elongated flexible structure further comprising: a second portion having a second portion inner surface and a second portion outer surface which is parallel to the second portion inner surface, the second portion inner surface having a topographic shape which is complementary to the topographic shape of a second portion of the peripheral surface and a second portion of the bottom surface adjacent to the second portion of the peripheral surface; a connection portion connecting the second portion of the elongated flexible structure to the first portion; and means for attaching the second portion and the connecting portion to at least one of the peripheral surface, the bottom surface, and the top surface of the surfboard; wherein at least one of the means for attaching the main structure inner surface to the portion of the peripheral surface and the portion of the bottom surface of the surfboard and the means for attaching the second portion and the connecting portion to at least one of the peripheral surface, the bottom surface, and the top surface of the surfboard utilizes at least one material selected from the group consisting of urethane adhesives, epoxies with resin content producing a flexible bonding joint, rubber cement, silicone adhesive, and adhesives which are applied and set up at temperatures higher than an ambient temperature.”

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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