If you want to patent an invention, it must offer a solution to a problem. Specifically, it must meet the following three conditions: (1) Novelty – at least some aspect of it must be new; (2) Inventive Step – the new aspect/s must not be obvious or easily deduced; (3) Industrial applicability – the invention must be able to be made or used in an industry. We’re not quite sure how the following five U.S. patents made the cut, but they sure are entertaining!
US 4022227: Method of concealing partial baldness
Look familiar? President Trump seems to be sporting a hairdo that was patented in 1975 by a father and son team from Orlando, Florida. According to the patent description, Frank and Donald Smith wanted to create a solution for partially bald men who didn’t have the financial means to buy and maintain hairpieces, hair weaves or hair transplants. This patented ‘do uses only the hair on your head divided into three sections folded over each other.
US 6004596: Sealed crustless sandwich
Be careful, your lunch might be infringing Smuckers’ PB&J sandwich patent! Yup, you read that right – the American company known for its jams, jellies and preserves also has a proprietary sandwich that it patented in 1997. What’s so special about it? By their own description, Smuckers’ patent provides “a convenient sandwich without an outer crust which can be stored for long periods of time without a central filling leaking outwardly.” An important part of the patent is a cutting cylinder that creates the circular shape of the sandwich, crimps its edges and removes the crust.
US 5031161: Life expectancy timepiece
If you ever wondered how much time you’ve got left, this watch claims to have the answer. Patented in 1991, it displays “the number of minutes, days and years remaining in a person’s life based on actuarial data.” The data it evaluates includes whether a person smokes cigarettes, consumes alcohol and fatty foods, their stress levels, exercise routine, and genetic factors such as family histories of known diseases and recorded lifespans.
US 4233942: Animal ear protectors
This picture might look like someone played around with toilet paper rolls on their dog’s ears, but the strange headpiece – patented in 1979 – is actually meant to keep the pup’s long ears away from its mouth and food while eating. (A simpler solution might be to purchase a tall bowl for your long-eared animals, but I digress.) In the description, the inventor says the ear protectors are “light weight, comfortable and not easily removed by the animal.” Of course, it can also be “decorated so as to enhance the appearance of the animal in the eyes of its owner and of others.”
US 5356330: Apparatus for simulating a “high five”
If you ever wanted to give a high five but no one was around, this invention could save the day. Patented in 1993, the high five apparatus “allows a user to simulate a ‘high-five’ in celebration of a positive event, thereby providing the user with a convenient outlet for the release of excitement,” says the description. And that’s not all! The patent also claims to improve hand-eye coordination and provide “an exercise device for enhancing the jumping skills of a user” when mounted above normal reach.