Patents for everything

While browsing at Barnes and Noble this last week, I picked up the interesting title Patently Absurd: The Most Ridiculous Devices Ever Invented, by Christopher Cooper.

What struck me was how appealing many of the inventions sounded.

OK, I’m not ready to put up venture capital for “Bird Diaper” or “Dust Cover for Dog“. And it was scary to read about “Firearm Mounted in a Shoe Heel,” patented in 1971.

But how about a combined fork and chopsticks? A “Night Light for a Toilet,” attached directly to the seat, would come in handy. I like the fork that warns when you are eating too fast. It is now well-known that slower eating is healthier and keeps your weight down. Some may prefer a wind sail for your bicycle.

The sociologist will be interested in “Interpersonal-Introduction Signaling System.” Using a small hand-held device, you broadcast a signal indicating that you are interested in meeting someone. You can be rejected without (major) embarrassment on either side.

No, contrary to the impression you might sometimes get from this blog, there are not markets in everything. If you wish to be woken by light corks falling on your face, well…they tried this idea in 1882 and it did not take off. But if there is no market, at least there is a patent. Read this short article on the recent proliferation in patents in the United States. Here are some other web sites with descriptions of absurd patents.

The book, appropriately, had been remaindered. And there is always hope for the future, as at least one of their examples has come true. Amphibious motorcycle anyone?

Addendum: Check this out, maybe there really are markets in everything.


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