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The Hyperloop Has Been Unleashed: Here Are The Other Most Ridiculous Patents

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With the market still stuck in the summer doldrums, where it will be until the Taper announcement and the German election, the dominant topic of water cooler conversation today is Elon Musk's hyperloop idea. While the feasibility, and not to mention profitability, of this concept remains to be determined, it got us thinking: what are some of the other more ridiculous patent ideas conceived in history - a topic particularly germane now that the Obama himself has decided to become the anti-patent troll-in-chief (at least on behalf of those who tend to spend generously for lobbying and other favor-inducing purposes). Below, courtesy of BusinessWeek, we list what may be some of the most absurd, bizarre, humorous and outright idiotic inventions and patent ideas awarded over the years.

From BusinessWeek:

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is drowning in a deluge of applications. On Mar. 16, Acting Director John Doll said that even if the office closed its doors, it would take almost two years to clear the backlog. With the agency understaffed and underfunded, it's no wonder some silly applications have slipped through the net. Here are some of the most absurd patents awarded in the past decade, courtesy of Totally Absurd. You'll find some choice statements from the actual patent applications (good luck deciphering some of the language), along with our, often incredulous, commentary.

Gas Factory

Gas Factory

Patent awarded: 2006
Patent says: "In addition to the environmentally destructive effects of ruminant animal methane emissions, such emissions represent wasted energy, as up to thirteen percent of the food ruminant animals eat is lost as methane."
We say: It would take a lot of cows to produce useful levels of biomass. Not to mention, you'd need workers to monitor the contraptions. Probably not efficient.

 

Dad Saddle

Dad Saddle

Patent awarded: 2002
Patent says: "A number of devices have been devised for carrying infants and young children. Such devices often are not appropriate or useful for carrying larger children. Nor are known conventional arrangements adapted to support a standing child."
We say: Spurs not included. If your child is too big for a stroller, it's probably time he or she learned to walk.

 

Gerbil Shirt

Gerbil Shirt

Patent awarded: 1999
Patent says: "A pet display vest for a person, having an elongated, enclosed, pet receiving, passageway extending thereacross with at least one closable pet admitting entry, at least part of the passageway being transparent so that, when the vest is worn, a pet moving along the passageway across a wearer's body can be viewed by a spectator."
We say: A great invention if you ever thought, "Gee, I'd really like to take my small rodent out for a walk and get it some sun." Just try not to trip.

Quick Draw Call

Quick Draw Call

Patent awarded: 2004
Patent says: "No one of the devices actually known allows the possibility of quickly and easily setting the cellular telephone to its use condition and then as well quickly and easily setting it back to rest."
We say: If Inspector Gadget had a cell phone, this is how he'd store it. It's the old gun-in-the-sleeve trick, but for your phone.

Be the Bike

Be the Bike

Patent awarded: 2004
Patent says: "The body of the rider acts as a connecting means between the front and rear roller assemblies and allows high-performance riding, exercise and competition."
We say: Luges seemed too safe? There doesn't seem to be a way to catch yourself if you fall, though, so wear plenty of pads.

Half Wit

Half Wit

Patent awarded: 2005
Patent says: "Most types of protective head gear or helmets cover and protect the entire or majority of the user's head. For many activities that require protection of the head, maximum protection is desirable. However, there are some activities where only some protection is desired."
We say: We're not quite sure which activities this application is referring to, but it seems like this design relies on one falling only backward, which doesn't seem entirely practical.

Baby Bottom Art

Baby Bottom Art

Patent awarded: 2000
Patent says: "The addition of a newborn infant to a family inspires feelings of nostalgia and the related desire to create a lasting remembrance of the child's infancy."
We say: It's a dip-your-baby's-butt-in-paint kit. Now mothers have something else to embarrass their kids with at parties.

 

Banana Suitcase

Banana Suitcase

Patent awarded: 2003
Patent says: "A banana protective device for storing and transporting a banana carefully."
We say: A protective case designed for the one fruit that already comes in a protective case.

 

Birdman

Birdman

Patent awarded: 1999
Patent says: "The difficulties in obtaining closeness and the restrained mobility are obstacles hindering the person from practicing the hobby or profession of animal observation."
We say: Just be really patient and try not to move as you lure birds with your feeder-laden headgear. Really, don't move.

 

Bumper Dumper

Bumper Dumper

Patent awarded: 2000
Patent says: "A well known difficulty experienced by travelers or individuals camping in a wilderness environment is finding suitable toilet facilities."
We say: It's a toilet seat that connects to a trailer hitch. You can come up with the jokes.

 

Plumber-Chic Pants

Plumber-Chic Pants

Patent awarded: 2002
Patent says: "The basic functions of dress are to provide warmth and protection, to beautify or enhance sexual appeal and to supply information about the wearer."
We say: It's true, these pants do supply information about the wearer. Perhaps a little too much, what with the hole designed to showcase his or her rear.

 

Ear Anchors

Ear Anchors

Patent awarded: 1999
Patent says: "It is therefore a primary objective of the present invention to provide an in-cord detachable ear hanger for an in-ear phone which can protect the in-ear phone from being pulled off position from the user's ear."
We say: Just avoid pulling on any part of the cord not between your ear and the clip, otherwise both will fall off. (This design flaw is actually stated in the patent.)

Flying Bike

Flying Bike

Patent awarded: 2003
Patent says: "There is need for [a] simple, inflatable structure that, when propelled forwardly, will provide lift for various loads, as for recreational and other purposes."
We say: Finally, a flying bike. The inventor suggests mounting a rocket on the machine for when you tire of pedaling.

 

Turtle Air Bags

Turtle Air Bags

Patent awarded: 2000
Patent says: "It is generally record[ed] that there is a greater risk of serious injury to motorcyclists in the case of an accident than to automobile passengers. This is due, inter alia, to the fact that, unlike automobiles, motorcycles are not equipped with protective systems which enclose users thereof."
We say: Does this safety device really make riding a motorcycle seem less daunting?

 

Gas Grabber

Gas Grabber

Patent awarded: 2001
Patent says: "There are various devices in this field for dealing with the problems of intestinal discharges with some degree of success. However, all of them are somewhat cumbersome and/or bulky to use."
We say: Two words: "flatulence deodorizer." All other words fail us.

 

Jacques Fido

Jacques Fido

Patent awarded: 2001
Patent says: "The invention is a special modified scuba diving apparatus intended for use by an animal."
We say: It's hard enough to get a leash around a dog's neck, much less an entire scuba suit.

 

Life Expectancy Watch

Life Expectancy Watch

Patent awarded: 2002
Patent says: "Life expectancy has been a major concern of people throughout the ages."
We say: It's hard to feel good amid a spiraling economy, crumbling infrastructure, a decaying environment, and a sky-high divorce rate. But now there's hope! This watch reminds you it's only a matter of time before you die.

 

Neck Pack

Neck Pack

Patent awarded: 2005
Patent says: "Traveling with many items, such as a telephone, pen or pencil, coins, cigarettes, etc., can be very cumbersome, particularly when all of the items need to be readily accessible."
We say: A take on the classic fanny pack, this invention moves the party to your neck.

 

Redundant Recumbent

Redundant Recumbent

Patent awarded: 2000
Patent says: "Systems which allow one to operate a computer device from an ergonomically superior, recumbent position. Provision is made for supporting the computer device and the body parts of the operator at elevations and inclinations which make the computer device the most comfortable and ergonomically superior to operate."
We say: Could you see your boss O.K.'ing this?

 

Motorized Ice Cream Cone

Motorized Ice Cream Cone

Patent awarded: 1999
Patent says: "The repetitive task of moving one's tongue up and down to manipulate a hollow ring can become monotonous and tiring, especially for a child."
We say: No children we know seem to struggle with the act of eating ice cream.

 

Snake Walker

Snake Walker

Patent awarded: 2002
Patent says: "There are many snake owners that do not spend much time handling their snakes. This is largely because they must hold them constantly while handling them for fear of losing control of them."
We say: This one will surely have snakes replacing puppies as the conversation starter for singles in the park.

 

Stud Spectacles

Stud Spectacles

Patent awarded: 2003
Patent says: "A frameless glassware assembly attaching to body piercing studs."
We say: Fashion nightmare.

 

Cry No More

Cry No More

Patent awarded: 2000
Patent says: "The inventive device includes a pacifier having an outwardly extending guard plate, apertures in opposite sides of the guard plate, and adjustable straps employing hook and loop fasteners to form loops for engaging the straps between the apertures in the guard plate and an infant's ears."
We say: Is strapping a muzzle/pacifier to a baby's head to shut him or her up really an advisable solution?

 

Bulletproof Desk

Bulletproof Desk

Patent awarded: 2001
Patent says: "The present invention relates generally to protection against personal assault, and more particularly to personal assault protection for those in vulnerable environments such as school rooms."
We say: It's hard not to mention that many schools struggle to afford books these days, much less military-grade protective gear.

 


 

 

And now... a bathroom-free capsule that crosses the San Andreas fault in a pressurized tunnel at 760 mph.

 

 


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