As I’m a practicing patent attorney, I often get promotional material from various vendors and local and international law firms–calendars, etc. I received a The 2011 Keller Patents Top Twelve Calendar recently from a patent seacher. Interestingly, he writes:
As a professional patent searcher serving many of you over the years, I have had the fascinating opportunity to see some of the most interesting patents ever issued. This year I am taking the opportunity to share some of the best with you. As the months go by, you will get to enjoy some of the most “unique” devices the PTO ever granted patents on. Every one of the patents you will view were found during the course of a search I was conducting.
… I have conducted a few thousand patent searches in my career, starting in the “paper only” days—all the way up to the present EAST system. Everything from simple mechanical and electrical novelty searches to validity and infringement studies and heavy duty chemical searches. Of the hundreds of thousands of patents I have seen throughout the years, only 64 to date, meet what I like to call “unique”.
This year I present 12 of my favorites ….
Fascinating, isn’t it, that this professional patent searcher, who has seen hundreds of thousands of patents, has only found 64 that he finds “unique.” Keep in mind, for a patent to be issued it is supposed to be both novel (new) and non-obvious (inventive), i.e., “unique.” And of the 12 he selected, most of them of these “unique” patents are ridiculous or frivolous/useless junk, like the “pat on the back apparatus.” (The PDF scan of the calendar is linked above; I’ve cropped out the calendar pages.)
For examples of other ridiculous or absurd patents, see Patent on a Stick; patently silly; PatentLawPractice Wiki; Gene Patent Absurdity; Christmas tree stand watering system; other examples in The Intellectual Property Quagmire, or, The Perils of Libertarian Creationism [PPT; PDF].