Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

They Invented What? (No. 51)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on June 13, 2007

U.S. Pat. No. 5,107,620:  Electrified table cloth. 

 tablecloth 

Abstract:

An electrified table cloth for preventing crawling insects from gaining access to the consumer’s food or drink comprises a cloth formed of electrically insulated material which has at least one pair of parallel electrically conductive strips secured to the edge or border of the cloth to completely encircle the cloth and which are connected to a low voltage DC battery also secured to the cloth. The strips of electrical conductive material are spaced apart sufficiently to normally prevent completion of a circuit across the strips and for completion of a circuit across said strips through an insert’s body as the insect attempts to traverse the strips when crawling acorss the edge of the cloth. The current passing through the insect’s body is sufficient to produce a sensation which will discourage further travel across the edge of the cloth. A consumer who may come into contact with the strips will usually not feel the current and, even if the consumer is wet, the current will produce only a slight tingling sensation. The electrical apparatus may also be provided in kit form to be installed on table cloths by the consumer.  

Claims:

1. An electrified table cloth to prevent crawling insects from gaining access to the consumer’s food or drink comprising;
          a cloth formed of electrical-insulating material having at least one surface for supporting containers of food or drink,
          at least one first strip of electrical-conducting material secured to the surface of the cloth to completely encircle the cloth,
          at least one second strip of electrical-conducting material secured to the surface of the cloth to completely encircle the cloth and spaced parallel to said first strip, and
          a low voltage DC battery operatively secured to the cloth,
said first strip of electrical-conducting material being connected to one terminal of said battery and said second strip of electrical-conducting material connected to the other terminal of said battery by electrical leads, and
          said first and second strips of electrical-conducting material spaced apart along their entire length and operable to complete a circuit across said strips through an insect’s body as the insect attempts to traverse the strips.

2. A cloth according to claim 1 in which said first and second strips of electrically-conducting material comprise;
          a first series of vertically spaced apart strips, and
          a second series of vertically spaced apart strips interposed between and parallel to alternating ones of said first series of strips, and
said first series connected to one terminal of said battery and said second series connected to the other terminal of said battery.

3. A cloth according to claim 1 in which said first and second strips of electrical-conducting material are formed of metallic foil.

4. A cloth according to claim 1 including clip means secured on the cloth in a suitable location to releasably receive and retain said battery.

5. A cloth according to claim 1 in which said battery is releasably secured to the cloth by adhesive material.

6. A cloth according to claim 1 including switch means operatively connected between said first or said second strip of electrical-conducting material and one terminal of said battery for selective activation of the electrical circuitry.

7. A cloth according to claim 1 in which said first and second strips of electrical-conducting material are secured to the surface of the cloth by adhesive material.

8. A cloth according to claim 1 in which said first and second strips of electrical-conducting material are provided with an adhesive backing for securing same to the surface of the cloth.

9. A cloth according to claim 8 including
          a removable strip of waxed paper covering the adhesive backing, and
          a removable strip of paper having a semi-tacky adhesive bottom surface covering the outer surface of the strips of electrical-conducting material, and
          said strips of electrical-conducting material installed on said cloth by removing said strip of waxed paper to expose the adhesive coating, and with said strip of semi-tacky paper still attached, applying the strips of electrical-conducting material to the outer edges of the cloth to completely encircle it,
          at least two adjacent strips of electrical-conducting material making firm contact with opposing electrical leads to the battery, and
          said strip of semi-tacky paper then removed to expose the outer surface of said electrical conducting material.

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