April Fools Day

Welcome to April 1, the internet’s unofficial celebration of click bait titles and hoax articles. Over the years we’ve come across some interesting patents, and in the spirit of April Fools Day, thought we’d share some of the funnier ones.


Santa Claus Detector

The “useful” hurdle of 35 U.S.C. 101 isn’t all that difficult to clear when you consider U.S. Patent 5,523,741, for a “Santa Claus Detector” which describes “a children’s Christmas Stocking device for visually signaling the arrival of Santa Claus by illuminating an externally visible light source”. Our initial impression was that this device was a stocking that employed a pressure sensitive switch, remotely setting off a light to alert that child that Santa was actually present. Instead, there is a chord attached to a switch in the stocking, which “Santa” “accidentally” pulls on his way out. This lets the child know that Santa had arrived during the previous night. Perhaps some children need lights (in addition to the myriad of oddly shaped objects stuffing the stocking) to signal the arrival of Santa Claus, though we have yet to meet one.

Anti–Eating Face Mask

Our next contestant is 4,344,424, the “Anti–Eating Face Mask.” Patented in 1982, this head restraint with a grill over the mouth looks like a medieval torture device that’s been anachronistically repurposed. The grill is designed to prevent the user from eating, however the design disclosed in the drawings would tend to indicate that a dedicated user could simply eat foods with a narrow cross section. Maybe this where they got the idea for Hannibal Lecter’s famous mask in Silence of the Lambs.


User-Operated Amusement Apparatus for Kicking the User’s Buttocks

Finally, and definitely our favorite, is the “User-Operated Amusement Apparatus for Kicking the User’s Buttocks” (6,293,874). Essentially, this is a self–powered “kick in the butt” machine, which we can only assume is a masochistic substitute for morning coffee.

Bottom line, the patent office doesn’t have an “absurdity” standard you have to overcome. No matter how unusual or insane your idea is, we can help you protect it.

A Dark Cloud Over Microsoft

A Dark Cloud Over Microsoft

In a recent case of Microsoft trademark infringement:

Microsoft Corp. will change the name of its SkyDrive cloud storage service following a U.K. court finding in June that it infringed a trademark held by British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC, (the companies said). Microsoft and Sky have reached a settlement in the wake of a U.K. High Court of Justice ruling that found against Microsoft in a trademark infringement dispute over its SkyDrive cloud storage service. Under the deal, Microsoft will not appeal the U.K. court ruling and Sky will allow the software giant to continue using the SkyDrive name “for a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand,” according to a joint statement the companies released Wednesday. —Law360, August 01, 2013

Even giants like Microsoft can't bully their way past a conflict of their own making.

Here in this case of trademark infringement, Microsoft adopted the "Sky" name for a cloud storage service after Britain's Sky Broadcasting had already established itself as a player in the internet arena. Microsoft tried to argue that the word "sky" should be available to anyone who wants to engage in cloud computing, but the U.K. courts found that ordinary customers wouldn't make a natural connection between "sky" and "cloud." In Corridor Law Group's opinion, Microsoft couldn't get past its own internal thinking; that because sky storage meant cloud storage to them, ordinary people should think so, too...a classic case of group mentality within big corporations.

"We will remain vigilant in protecting the Sky brand and will continue to take appropriate action against those companies who seek to use our trade mark without consent,” (Sky Broadcasting concluded).

Read the full story "Microsoft To Change SkyDrive Name After UK Trademark Loss" by Scott Flaherty of Law360 here.