We all have an inventive streak. At some time in our lives, most have us have come up with clever solutions to everyday problems. And we often make them happen. But, throughout history, some very weird patents have provided ingenious solutions to specific problems but never really took off because of the unlikely advantages they offered, because they were not commercially viable, or because they simply came at the wrong time.

This article looks back at some of history's wackiest patents and ingenious solutions to prove that, as long as it is innovative, any invention can be patented.

 

Five weird patents

 

  • The hiccup stopper. In 2003, a patent was registered for a series of metal rods that were placed inside a glass and made to touch the sides of someone's face so that, while they were drinking, small electric shocks would be emitted, jolting the vagus nerve and phrenic nerves, and stopping the hiccups. We don't know whether it actually works, but it definitely sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

     

 

 

  • The rodent-walking tee-shirt is considered to be one of the weirdest patents ever. The invention is a tee-shirt with see-through tunnels to be worn by those who want to take a walk with their gerbils or mice scurrying around for all to see. Well, even this invention has to have its fans!

     

 

  • The Beerbrella. Who hasn't found themselves at the beach hopelessly trying to shelter their drink from the hot sun? The Beerbrella is the solution. This tiny parasol easily attaches to a bottle of your favorite soda to keep it in the shade.

     

 

  • The vibrating tattoo is one of the world's funniest inventions. This patent is for a tattoo that vibrates when your phone rings. Presumably it was patented before WhatsApp groups existed!

     

 

  • The High-Five Machine. An articulated arm for you to high-five with. The instructions explain that it can be hung on the wall or any other surface to boost your self-esteem and raise your spirits. If that's true, we all want one!

     

 

Did you like these five weird but clever patents? We hope you did and that we inspired the inventor in you. Now you can see that any invention, small or strange as it may seem, can be protected by a patent.

 

In fact, some of the most unusual patents have made their creators millionaires.  Take Doggles for instance, an extremely popular brand of polarised sunglasses that perfectly fit a dog's head. They even make Doggles for dogs with sight problems.

Doggles were invented by Roni Di Lullo, and in 2004 they were on sale in 4,500 stores in 16 countries, earning Di Lullo millions of dollars.

At SHIP, there is an entire team of industrial property experts at your disposal to take you and your inner inventor straight to the top.

 

 

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Patents and utility models are two different legal mechanisms that can be used to protect a new product or innovative procedure that you developed. These two concepts have several things in common but we want to make sure that you know the differences, the requirements, and what each legal protection mechanism can be used for.

What are patents?

A patent grants an exclusive right over a product or procedure that has been newly invented. It can be used, for example, to register an innovative article or an improvement in the way something is done. For example, you might want to patent the solution to a technical problem or a new object. 

What are utility models? 

Differences between patents and utility models

Utility models are sometimes known as "small patents". They also grant an exclusive right preventing third parties from using an invention for commercial purposes without the patent holder's authorization. A Utility Model protects an invention that is new and involves an inventive step that consists of changing the configuration, structure, or constitution of an object so as to offer a barely perceptible advantage in its use or manufacturing.

What are utility models used for?

As you can see, the differences are very slight. To better understand the concept, let's see what these models can be used for. Generally speaking, they are useful for SMEs that want to register small breakthroughs and improvements to existing devices. For instance, they could be used to protect a special brush for applying a type of paint that already exists.

Utility Models are considered a simpler way of patenting an invention. It is important to keep in mind the object that you are protecting, since utility models can only apply to products, not procedures.  Each type of legal protection is subject to different requirements.

Differences in requirements

Patents must involve an international novelty. This is determined by drawing up a Report on the State of the Art to define the degree of novelty and the inventive step. The application process can take up to 36 months and protection is usually granted for twenty years.

Utility models must involve a national novelty. A two-month grace period is allowed for any third-party objections. The application takes approximately six months and protection can be granted for up to ten years.

In both cases, the invention must be industrially applicable. This means that it must be possible to manufacture and/or use the object or procedure in question in an industrial context. Keeping up protection in both categories involves paying an annual fee.

This means that although patents are better in the sense that they offer more and longer protection, they also require worldwide novelty and a significant inventive step, which makes utility models the ideal alternative for inventions of objects that involve a less ground-breaking technical solution.

In a globalized world, relying on expert guidance on intellectual property management and technological innovation is becoming increasingly important. At SHIP Global IP, we are experts in dealing with every aspect of industrial property, from patent translation to payment of annual fees, including carrying out any formalities involved in protecting an invention.

 

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The new Spanish patent law has paved the way for protecting compositions or colors, including chemical products. The law, which came into force on April 1st 2017, is Law 24/2015, on Patents. In this post, we explain what it is and what you can do.


Protecting colors and compositions

The major new feature of the patent law is the possibility of registering compositions that may not meet one of the requirements for patentability, the inventive step. Now, a few issues should be noted. It is not a question of patenting the color itself, since a color cannot be considered for protection, as it does not offer a technical solution to a technical problem. Nevertheless, a paint that is obtained by mixing others, or from a chemical composition, can be patented, as long as it does not rely on pharmaceutical substances and compounds or biological material. To be able to be registered, it must be described completely and clearly in the invention, it must be new and have an inventive step, and, lastly, it must have an industrial application. 

According to the Office of Registration and Patents, you gain a right over a mark for the whole of it, without the symbols TM (Trademark) or R (Registered Trademark) being mandatory.  The former shows that it is a trademark, and the latter that it has been registered. For example, there will be no problem for a company to use the Cola-Cao red and yellow in its image, but there will be if it copies the typeface or the design as well as the colors. If the whole of it is plagiarized, that can lead to legal action. 

So, with the new law, if a color composition represents a brand, then it can be protected. You can register what is known as factory marks or trademarks. They are cataloged as a trademark color and can be used exclusively by the company that registered it in its own sector. For example, Tiffany’s turquoise is protected in the jewelry sector, but not in any other. 

 


Reasons for protecting a color

As a company that specializes in processing and managing patents all over the world,SHIP recommends that protection be given to colors and composition, especially if we are talking about brands with international power and a great potential for market penetration. You will undoubtedly know of “Klein blue”, one of the major colors that have been registered, and “Kodak yellow”, “Louboutin sole red”, and “Coca-Cola red”. These are colors that have been linked with their respective brands, and so are protected. 

In the specific case of “Klein blue”, Yves Klein decided to register it in the Enveloppe Soleau, which is similar to the Intellectual Property Register, but in France protects a technique. It was not a patent in the true sense of the word. The color is known as International Klein Blue (IKB), and what was registered was the formula for a paint. 

 

There are many reasons for patenting your creations. Companies like SHIP specialize in advising you and guiding you through the entire process. 

 

 

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Protecting your company often means guaranteeing its industrial and intellectual property rights. In a global world, you have to pay attention to make sure no one copies your idea or takes advantage of your efforts and investment.

In this article we’ll give you some practical examples and explain how you can use patents to defend your interests and those of your company.


Amazon’s Patents


Amazon is one of the biggest spenders on patent registration, both for the new technologies they develop and to defend them. Although they are controversial, the measures the company takes are extremely effective for helping them maintain their leadership position in the online retail sector.

You must be aware that protecting your company is essential at a time when profit margins are becoming increasingly tight. When faced with this situation, it is vital to offer something different and to define your scope of action vis-à-vis the competition or your customers. Although industrial property rights were already becoming entrenched in the second half of the 19th century, they spread far and wide in time with economic globalization.

Some patents provide one company an advantage over others by giving it exclusive use of the latest technologies, generally for a maximum of twenty years. This does not mean that you can never use these technologies, but you do have to come an agreement with their owner and establish a fee for their use.

There is also another type of patent that is more controversial: patents that restrict access to existing services, such as price comparisons. Amazon has developed a tool of this kind and, for the time being, is able to use it.

1-Click ordering

The idea of being able to place an order with just one click was introduced by Amazon in 1999 and it is calculated that this feature led to an increase of up to 5% in the company's sales. Immediacy is a value intrinsically linked to online purchases.

Although the patent is due to lapse at the end of 2017 and all retail companies will subsequently be able to use it, it has given Amazon an undoubted competitive advantage for gaining market share over the last 20 years.


Blocking comparisons

Many of us like to use price comparison websites, but the US giant has proposed putting a stop to this when people visit their  brick-and-mortar stores, which are spreading rapidly over several continents. A new patent will block the use of price comparison websites from the competition and redirect customers to Amazon’s own site or an approved site whenever the user is connected to the store’s free Wi-Fi network.

The move is intended to encourage consumers to do their shopping in the Amazon brick-and-mortar store, since comparative shopping impossible encourages impulse buying.

 
Conclusion

As protecting a company through industrial property rights is inescapable, we recommend you find a company that will manage the entire process. SHIP specializes in national and international patent management and offers a guaranteed service. Contact us and we’ll provide you with further details.

 

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Europe’s largest IP Convention & Trade Fair offers a perfect opportunity to stay tuned for IP hot topics like the digitalization of IP, the unitary patent, IP Analytics as well as a systematic overview of all relevant Intellectual Property solution providers.

SHIP Global IP will be present at IP Service World for second year in a row.  The event will take place at the Convention & Trade Fair of Munich on November 27th and 28th.

Visit the SHIP Global IP team attending the event at booth IP54, located near the Forum 9-14 area.

Paco Martín, our IP Director, and Felix Donoso, Senior Account Manager will be more than glad to meet you and discuss how SHIP can help you reduce your IP.

If you want to pre-arrange a meeting during the event, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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