10 Wacky and Wonderful Patents

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Facebook just bought $40 million worth of patents from Friendster. Team Zuckerberg purchased 18 innovations in total, including friend lists, photo tagging, and the always informative news feed. But not all of the patents are as clear. One of them apparently covers “a system, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks.” Giving this privilege to one company doesn’t sound conducive to competition and innovation within the social-networking market — but that’s probably the reason why Facebook wanted it. We thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce you to ten other patents granted over the years that are weird, strange, and downright nutty.

1. Pet Display Clothing (patent no. 5,901,666)

Pets like hamsters or gerbils don’t get to see much of the city, and someone thought that wasn’t fair. Fusing sensible practicality with avant-garde fashion, this device transforms the user into a ornate system of portable plastic tunnels. You’ve heard of individuals getting attention for walking an adorable dog, how about impressing the ladies by wearing a hamster cage?

2. The Forehead Support Apparatus (patent no. 6,681,419)

Hey fellas, are you tired of bringing your own pillow to rest your head against the bathroom wall while relieving yourself? Thankfully, some entrepreneur was, too. Now every public bathroom can potentially transform into a complete sanctuary of rest.

3. The Sound Muffler for Covering the Mouth (patent no. 4,834,212)

Everyone gets frustrated from time to time, and there’s nothing more repressive than having to remain quiet in these moments. This innovative product allows you to yell in public without looking psychotic. It even has a light display to measure the volume of your scream, so you can keep tabs on your increasing levels of rage.

4. The Microwave Oven with Removable Storage Cassette in Dashboard of Motor Vehicle (patent no. 6,060,700)

This awkwardly titled patent serves an efficient function. What better time is there to cook up a nutritious breakfast than on the commute to work? Most of the trip is spent stuck in traffic anyway, so you might as well do something constructive. Also, surprising your friends with a batch of hot burritos without even pulling into a gas station is a pretty cool move.

5. The Emoticon Keyboard (patent no. 6,629,793)

For those who think it’s time we abandon the old style of written communication and move forward into the 21st century, this invention is for you. Why bother fumbling around with 26 discrete characters when you can express yourself with the press of a button? If pictures are worth a thousand words, it’s time we start believing it.

6. The Motorized Ice Cream Cone (patent no. 5,971,829)

In accordance with the inventors of the straw, the makers of the Motorized Ice Cream Cone are on a mission to rid the world of unnecessary exertion and sore necks. Instructions for the device are as follows: insert your favorite flavor, flip the “On” switch, stick out your tongue, and let the effortless, rotating magic commence.

7. The Lap Dance Liner (patent no. 6,406,462 B1)

Disease lurks everywhere, so it’s best not to take chances. The Lap Dance Liner protects a gentleman’s most vulnerable organ, yet remains hidden underneath his pants to avoid insulting the dancer. Treating your lap like a public toilet seat is vulgar, and the Lap Dance Liner puts prudence first.

8. The Smoker’s Hat (patent no. 4,858,627)

This considerate contraption allows smokers to puff on their cigarettes without letting the excess fumes find their way into the nostrils of innocent bystanders. The hat’s built-in fan immediately sucks up the exhaled smoke, and then purifies it before releasing it back into the atmosphere with an added scent of the user’s choice. The Smoker’s Hat is good for the environment, too.

9. The Graffiti Prevention Apparatus (patent no. 5,675,318)

The best way to handle unwanted graffiti is to stop it before it happens. Through a complex system of sensors and magnetic fields, the Graffiti Prevention Apparatus thwarts would-be thugs by redirecting the stream of paint projected from their spray cans away from the wall. No more paying college students minimum wage to scrub the exterior of your business.

10. The Outdoor Beverage Holder Assembly (patent no. 5,823,496)

When you’re enjoying the company of friends in a park or in someone’s backyard, you don’t want to be burdened with holding a cold drink. Instead, let the Outdoor Beverage Holder deal with it. Nothing more than a can holder attached to a wooden stake, this contraption is essential for a relaxed, beverage-holding-free summer.