Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why Patents Can Make Your Head Explode

Bioluminescent Novelty Item

"The present invention relates to systems for producing bioluminescent light, and to combinations of the systems with articles of manufacture including toys, textiles, food and beverages, to produce novelty items. By virtue of the combination, the novelty items glow or produce or expel a bioluminescent composition. Also, provided are compositions, encapsulated bioluminescence generating reagents, and methods for producing the bioluminescence. "

Fifty eight claims, 34 figures, 360 US patent citations, 39 foreign patent citations and 202 non-patent prior art references later we learn it's about blowing bubbles.  Basically it's an invention for a new way of blowing bubbles that mimics bioluminescence - a biochemical emission of light by living organisms like fireflies an deep-sea fishes.  Shiny colorful bubbles and it's use in devices that are used to create them.

The earliest prior art citation dates back to 1886 - US Patent 340,750.  USPTO cites the inventor on this patent as Salmon et al.  This is a patent for a truss invented by Edward Williams.  The correct citation is Design patent D340,750 for a toy water gun patented in 1993.  (It was cited on a divisional patent application.  A patent quality problem somewhere.)

It cites a fluid gas gun invented in 1939.  A device containing a liquid solution of pungent gas and water with a small amount of glycerine (soap) added to increase the viscosity of the fluid permitting it to evaporate almost instantaneously upon striking the target.  "The greatest use of ...is by penitentiaries or animal keepers, for the purpose of subduing a riotous prisoner or vicious animal...when the fluid strikes the person at which it is directed it immediately evaporates, a nauseating vapor is given off which the person or animal is forced to breath and subdues them sufficiently to bring them under control..."  Ok...bubbles hit their target and evaporate.  Weaponized bubbles that stink?

Also cited is 4,861,303 -  Toy bubble pipes with blow air-actuated pivoting animal shape blow pipes and plenty of chemical patents for things like FK-506 cytosolic binding protein, FKBP12.6 and a host of other stuff on the world of bubbles and bubble chemistry.

This is why patents can make your head explode.