The odd, the misguided, and the just plain wierd

As part of my job, I have to skim through the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It's published every Tuesday, and contains official notices and rule changes. There's a "Patents" version and also a "Trademarks" version. The Patents version lists every single patent granted during the past week, along with a Figure and claim 1 from each. [Note: the "claims" of a patent are where the inventor lists exactly what it is he has exclusive rights to.]

My forays through issues of the Official Gazette have made it quite clear to me that a person can get a patent on darn near anything. Some of the stuff that struck me as wierd or amusing is listed below. [Note: each button will take you to a patent on the IBM Patent Server. While a terrific resource, it has become quite popular, so it can be very slow at times.]

Now here is an invention that will actually improve the lives of many people. I mean, now there'll be room to pack a change of underwear without having to bring a spare suitcase. (U.S. Ser. No. 5,708,983, issued 1/20/98)

If I were an Examiner at the Patent Office and this landed on my desk, I'd probably break for lunch and not come back (HINT: just try to read claim 1). (U.S. Ser. No. 5,716,307, issued 2/10/98)

I dunno. I look at this and I think, " 'Aid'? What's left for anyone to do?" (U.S. Ser. No. 5,725,473, issued 3/10/98)

And more as I find them.

Yes, "Mirsky's Worst of the Web" served as inspiration for this page. All hail Mirsky! Huzzah!

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