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Extraordinary Patents

Here are some remarkable patents and applications concerning first some very valuable products, second some iconic product images then some collections of unusual, quirky patents.

▾Most valuable patent?

Here are some patents that launched business empires and brought about some significant changes in society. They include patents from The Bell Telephone Company claiming the telephone, Google's PageRank® and Howard Hughes' two-cone drill bit.
Individual Patents that Built Empires, IP Folio Blog, IP Folio

The Patent Information Users Group's (PIUG) list of Global Record Breaking Patents includes the most valuable electrical invention (1). The need to design around the claims for the light bulb led to a series of inventions (2-3).
1. Electric-Lamp US223898, Edison, TA, PD 27 Jan 1880
2. Designing Around a Patent as an Alternative to a License, Moran B and Jensen B, IPWatchdog 30 Jul 2019
3. Necessity is the Mother of Inventing Around: Inventing Around Edison's Lamp Patent, Howells John and Katznelson, Academy of Management, 1-46, 2020

Google's PageRank®
Method for node ranking in a linked database
A method assigns importance ranks to nodes in a linked database, such as any database of documents containing citations, the world wide web or any other hypermedia database. The method is particularly useful in enhancing the performance of search engine results for hypermedia databases, such as the world wide web.

US6285999, Page, L, The Leland Stanford Junior University, PD 4 Sep 2001

Apple's patent for the original iPhone® has played its part in contributing to their profits.

Apple Wins Patents for their Original iPhone® Interface, a MicroDVI Connector, the iMac's Edge-to-Edge Glass Cover, Front Row Software & More, US7966578, Patently Apple, 21 Jun 2011

Amazon's 1-Click patent may have brought them an additional $40.8 million in operating income. Apple licensed the technology for iTunes, iPhoto and the Apple App Store and the licensing fees would have added to the value of this patent.

How Valuable is Amazon’s 1-Click Patent? It’s Worth Billions, Arsenault, M Rejoiner

▾Most iconic image?

Wondering how to fill your spare time? Try this great colouring book from Paulina Borrego, based on Star Wars patents.
Classic Star Wars Patents Coloring Book, Selected Works of Paulina Borrego, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2019

Some iconic toys such as Lego®, a Slinky® and Monopoly® can be found in this collection of patent drawings.
Iconic patent art, How a Car Works

This site has a collection of Star Trek® design patents. From 1978 through 1987, Paramount Pictures® filed various design patents for Star Trek®. This is the refit of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Andrew Probert is the only inventor, despite the number of people who contributed to the design. As prior art the examiner referenced a toy listing from 1976 of the original Enterprise. This patent relies heavily on the "substantially as shown" provision, as it is the same as the final model only in the gross details. For example, the warp engines are more cylindrical than in the ship as seen in the movie.
Star Trek design patents, D260789, Probert, A, Paramount Pictures Corporation, PD 15 Sep 1981, Fandom Powered by Wikia ,

▾Most extraordinary?

In her "Quirky Patent Coloring Books" series, Paulina Borrego aims to make patents more accessible to the public. As she says "Patents are more than great ideas, they are a story of people, creativity, and hope for a better future."
Quirky Patent Coloring Books: An outreach project focused on changing the patent culture one patent coloring book at a time, Borrego, P, Journal of the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Association, 30, 3, 15 May 2020

This method of proposing marriage has the advantages that as well as being unique, the whole world can see the proposal in the patent application.
An improved method of proposing marriage to an individual, in which a patent application may claim the method by which the proposor will make a marriage proposal to the individual. The method of proposing to an individual includes the steps of meeting the individual; exchanging names with the individual; dating the individual (not necessary); drafting a patent application having a proposal to marry the individual; and showing the patent application to the individual.
Method and instrument for proposing marriage to an individual, US2007078663, Grace, RT, PD 5 Apr 2007

Some fascinating patent records can be found on the Patent Information Users Group's (PIUG) list of Global Record Breaking Patents.

  • Under "most incomprehensible" subject matter is an invention which uses a combination of Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Newton's Second Law of Physics, to provide a process of reincarnation or rebirth resulting in immortality.
    Process of reincarnation, US2004005535, Knauer, G, PD 8 Jan 2004
  • Under "most oxymoronic" subject matter is a dry form of water, formed by mixing water with particulate silica to yield a powdered product which remains flowable over a wide temperature range.
    Dry water, US4008170, Allan, B, PD 15 Feb 1977

Patently Absurd has a great collection of unusual patents and applications including several from Arthur Pedrick.
He was an extremely prolific inventor in the 1960s and 1970s, although his inventions may not have been very practical. After a career as an examiner in the UK Patent Office, he became an inventor on a large numbers of patent applications.
Jackson, T, Patently Absurd!, 17 Dec 2000

Steve van Dulken from the British Library, has suggested that as many as a tenth of all patents have some "whacky" content.
A patently absurd invention? Lane, M, BBC News online, BBC News, 25 Oct 2002

Does this "explain" The Tardis for Dr Who fans?
A thrust levitation mechanism with spacial warp, provides the ability to increase available space inside a small craft.
The predicted effect for the concept and phenomena of spacial warp is that a three-dimensional inner volume increase for a structure can be produced by applying a traction beam inside of an enclosed volume. The effect is that traction beam energy can be expended in order to increase the usable and available space inside of a small craft. The traction and repulsion beams can distort the normal three dimensional space inside of a metallic structure.
Advanced Technology Propulsion, US2001004098, Smith, BE and Vincent, MC, PD 21 Jun 2001

What is this comic strip action hero doing? He is demonstrating bullet-proof, combat garments for use when parachuting, jumping from helicopters and exploding boats as well as landing in and surviving treacherous swamps and water.
A combat garment that is buoyant, bulletproof, shock resistant and flexible permitting maximum body movements.
US3398406, Nicholas R Du Pont, PD 27 Aug 1968

Advice for how to float horses across rivers was highlighted by the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Assoc (PTRCA) on their Wacky Patents page. Data is taken from the Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents (DATAMP).
Improvement in methods of floating horses &c. across rivers, US18691, Heintzelman, SP, Newport Barracks KY, PD 24 Nov 1857

Cat Lovers Vs. Bird Lovers
A bird trap and cat feeder for catching birds and feeding the birds to a cat. The trap designed to catch birds the size of a sparrow while releasing smaller song birds, wrens, swallows, or the like. The feeder providing means for continuously supplying a cat or neighborhood cats with sparrows to eat.
US4150505, Voelker, L, PD 24 Apr 1979

Ice cream burger, save time and eat both courses of your meal together with this invention.
The ice cream burger includes a pair of bread pieces; a cooked meat patty placed between the pair of bread pieces; and at least one layer of ice cream placed between the pair of bread pieces.
Ice cream burger and method of preparing the same, US20030170349, Lee, YJ, PD 11 Sep 2003

This modest inventor has copywriting among his many skills.
"It's about a whole new, high-performance autotechnology that I invented!
. . . This technique is absolutely awesome, embellished them with their curves but also the car! And, once again, I could, and I can prove that I, only I am the one who can build really good cars!"
High Performance Car Technology, DE102013009295, Reins, K, PD 4 Dec 2014

Essential for the summer, this helium filled sun shade can protect the user while picnicing or river rafting.
A sun shade is formed from two sheets of a tough, yet flexible material which have been cut to an appropriate shape and size, and sealed together at the edges to form a flat, balloon-like structure.
Helium-filled sun shades, US5076029, Sevilla, FJ, PD 31 Dec 1991