Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

They Invented What? (No. 152)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on October 28, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 5,878,931:  Halloween backpack.

JMW Note:  Wishing all a Happy and Safe Halloween 2009!


What is claimed is:

1. A Halloween backpack for a child comprising:
          a hollow container having an outer surface, said hollow container adapted to be worn as a backpack on the back of a child, 
         means for releasable mounting of said hollow container on said back of said child,
         a hollow chute mounted onto said hollow container, said chute defining a passageway along said chute between a frontal chute opening in said chute and an aperture into said hollow container thereby forming a cooperating passageway between said frontal opening and a holding cavity in said hollow container, said chute opening, said passageway, and said aperture sized to accept Halloween treats said chute being formed of a shape retaining material such that the shape of said frontal chute opening remains constant,
          said chute extending upwardly of said hollow container so as to extend above a shoulder of said child when said child is wearing said hollow container as a backpack,
          said chute shaped to present said frontal chute opening for access from a frontal position facing the front of said child whereby a Halloween treat may be deposited into said hollow chute from said frontal position or by said child.


They Invented What? (No. 151)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on October 15, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 4,828,531: Synthetic eye simulating eyeball movement.


I claim:

1. An artificial eye which when mounted on the head of a toy figure appears to follow an observer as he changes his angular orientation with respect to the eye, said eye comprising:

          A. a transparent case having a generally spherical form, so mounted on the head of the figure as to expose its convex frontal section and to conceal its rear section;

          B. a spherial ball mounted concentrically at a fixed position within the case and having a distinctive color; and

          C. an opaque mask covering at least a portion of the case and provided at the convex frontal section of the case with a window that exposes the ball as well as the regions above and below and on either side of the ball, whereby an observer viewing the artificial eye through the window in a direction normal thereto in alignment with the ball center then sees the ball in its centered position; but as the observer moves relative to the figure and changes his orientation to view the eye through the window in a direction at an angle to the alignment direction, then the ball appears to be displaced from its centered position upwardly or downwardly or to one side thereof to an extent that depends on the angle of view, thereby giving the optical impression that the ball is following the observer’s movement.


New USPTO Website (No Longer Beta!)

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on October 12, 2009

As we had earlier reported, the USPTO had been working on a beta version of a new USPTO web site.   Well, as of today, the new website has gone live. (See   

According to the USPTO, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) had been working to incorporate comments and feedback from internal and external users on the beta version, in order to make the website more user-friendly.  The website has also been organized based on tasks that visitors perform on a regular basis. 

Having used the beta version of the USPTO website a number of times, we agree that the new website offers a simpler and cleaner design, which should significantly improve navigation by visitors and functionality.   We applaud the USPTO for making these much-needed improvements.

They Invented What? (No. 150)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on October 7, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 3,677,263:  Portable bath capsule.


I claim:

1. A capsule for administering bed baths, comprising;

          an elongated sheath of strong, flexible, fluid tight material dimensioned to accomodate and completely enclose the entire body of the patient excepting the head;

          said sheath having a neck opening capable of being closed reasonably tightly about the neck of the patient;

          said sheath having a elongated opening dimensioned to admit the body of the patient and said elongated opening having means for fluid tight closure thereof; and

          means for admitting fluid to and draining fluid from said capsule;

          said sheath having a plurality of layers with air spaces defined therebetween for heat insulation.


Proposed Changes to USPTO Examiner Count System.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on October 1, 2009

Yesterday, the USPTO announced a proposal to change the examiner count system.  The examiner count system determines the time a patent examiner has to complete a patent examination and how much credit is given for each stage of the examination.  The proposal was developed by a task force comprised of senior managers in the USPTO and leadership of the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA), the union that represents patent examiners.

Per this press release, the proposed changes are designed to:

•  Set the foundation for long-term pendency improvements.
•  Increase customer satisfaction by incentivizing quality work at the beginning of the examination process.
•  Encourage examiners to identify allowable subject matter earlier in the examination process.
•  Rebalance incentives both internally and externally to decrease rework.
•  Increase examiner morale and reduce attrition.

The examiner count system was created in the mid-1960s and hasn’t been revised since 1976.  Accordingly, the proposed changes (if implemented) will be the most signficant changes in more than 30 years.

Details about the proposed changes to the examiner count system may be viewed here.