What Do You Get When You Strip Patent Illustrations From All Context?

from the context-is-key dept

When filling out a patent application, the purpose is two-fold. The first purpose of the application is to provide enough information for the patent examiner to determine if your invention is original and non-obvious, thus patentable. The second purpose of the application is to provide enough information for someone skilled in the art the invention falls under to recreate the invention. Often to fulfill these two purposes it is necessary to include illustrations to help visualize key parts that may be difficult to explain solely in writing. Yet, what happens when you strip these images out of the application and look at them without any context at all? Would you be able to discern just from the image what the patent is? Via io9, we learn of a Tumblr account that takes this idea of context free patent illustrations and runs with it.

Let's take a look at a few of these illustrations and see just what each might be:



Either Ian Bogost has been granted a patent for clicking a cow on the internet or someone has patented the sirloin steak.



It looks like someone has invented a new method for dispensing cats for adoption via a very large crane game. Not sure how happy the cats will be when adopted, but the game sure looks fun.

While I have often wondered why my 6 year-old's crayon drawings need copyright, I can tell by these next couple of illustrations that even without copyright she could make quite the living drawing illustrations for patent applications.





I can honestly say, my daughter's art is way better.



Who would have thought that people might want to wear shoes while wrestling? I know I certainly wouldn't have conceived of the idea had it not been for this patent application.



Ooh. Looks like someone has been awarded a patent on modern copyright maximalist strategy. The mine cart represents the one track mind of those seeking more enforcement legislation. The Whac-a-Mole represents how effective those measures are in real life. I like it.

While I feel that illustrations can be invaluable to a properly filed application, especially for those seeking to use those applications when the patents expire, one must really look at these sample illustrations and many of the others posted in the Tumblr blog and wonder, "Are these illustrations really helping to promote the progress?"


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 1:13am

    At first i thought the last one was a guy keeping sharks out his bathtub with a mallet. I had a good giggle. Thanks

     

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    The Moondoggie, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 1:30am

    What?

    I'm very sorry that my imagination failed me on this one and cannot comprehend what I was looking at... Except the one marked "Scrotal Support Garment"... which looks unmanly.

    Sorry.

     

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    CheMonro (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 2:30am

    Shoes

    Who would have thought that people might want to wear shoes while wrestling?

    Well there was a time when wearing shoes at all was considered novel, and would have been worthy of a patent. And since patents last forever, that means shoes should still be patentable, right? I mean, innovation is innovation...

     

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    ohrn (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 2:33am

    Missing illustration.

    They missed the best illustration ever:

    http://since1968.com/images/58.png

    I'm pretty sure it's a software patent.

     

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      Donnicton, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 5:32am

      Re: Missing illustration.

      Method for removing a loose tooth via a flushed cord?

       

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 6:11am

      Re: Missing illustration.

      Heh - that was actually on an episode of QI once (amazing show that I recommend to anyone and everyone - seriously, give it a try) and they explained what it is: it's a system for breathing in a hotel room that is filling with smoke during a fire.

      As one of the panelists on the show put it: "So you can spend your last few minutes alive breathing toilet air."

       

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        ohrn (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 6:30am

        Re: Re: Missing illustration.

        Yes, toilet breathing saves lives! The full patent is here: http://www.google.com/patents/US4320756

        In addition to the awesome pic it has some great quotes too (when properly taken out of context):

        1. A method for breathing fresh air in a room ... comprising the steps of
        inserting a breathing tube through a water trap of a toilet to expose an open end thereof to fresh air from a vent pipe connected to a sewer line of said toilet, and breathing said fresh air through said breathing tube.

        *Fresh Air* I don't want to visit that hotel.

         

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    hfbs (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 4:49am

    I need these on a t-shirt like, now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 5:14am

    one must really look at these sample illustrations and many of the others posted in the Tumblr blog and wonder, "Are these illustrations really helping to promote the progress?"

    You're doing all the right things, Zach, by trying to make all IP seem stupid. Pulling illustrations out of applications and looking at them out of context is a great strategy. Mikey teaches you well.

    But to answer your question, if the illustrations are part of an application that is granted, then that means they're part of an invention was new, useful, and nonobvious. And that means the invention has advanced the state of the art, and therefore, it has promoted the progress.

    Looking at a single illustration, out of context, and without more information, is not the proper way to frame it. That is, of course, unless you're writing another mindless, baseless, and idiotic piece for TechTurd.

     

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 6:09am

      Re:

      But to answer your question, if the illustrations are part of an application that is granted, then that means they're part of an invention was new, useful, and nonobvious. And that means the invention has advanced the state of the art, and therefore, it has promoted the progress.

      Heh, are you really so naive that you are placing that much blind faith in the patent system?

      I mean, what you just said sounds nice at all, and it supposed to be true in theory - but you obviously don't know much about the state of the patent office if you think it has worked that way in practice.

      The contextless illustrations are, yes, a bit of a joke - Zach's just having some fun I think. But it's not half so good a joke as your romantic words about patents.

       

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        Trails (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 7:47am

        Re: Re:

        You're wrong, Leighcus Beadab!

        It got a patent, ergo, it is a triumph of the human spirit.

        The patent on "Speak haired homunculus with oversized shoes holding a gun incorrectly, pointing it at large armed man in toga" has saved us from the dangers of large-armed men in togas, including children. You don't hate children, do you?

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 6:33am

      Re:

      Quote:

      But to answer your question, if the illustrations are part of an application that is granted, then that means they're part of an invention was new, useful, and nonobvious. And that means the invention has advanced the state of the art, and therefore, it has promoted the progress.

      I wish I could see your face right now to see if you are saying that with a straight face, because surely you are kidding me.

      Even IP lawyers have blogs dedicated to mocking the patent system today because they allow everything if you submit enough times.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      Right like when this guy invented toast just 13 years ago. http://www.google.com/patents/US6080436

      Non-obvious innovation at its finest!

       

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 8:23am

      Re:

      You're doing all the right things, Zach, by trying to make all IP seem stupid. Pulling illustrations out of applications and looking at them out of context is a great strategy. Mikey teaches you well.

      I guess if it justifies your continued presence here, feel free to continue missing the point.

      But to answer your question, if the illustrations are part of an application that is granted, then that means they're part of an invention was new, useful, and nonobvious. And that means the invention has advanced the state of the art, and therefore, it has promoted the progress.

      You are incredibly naive if you think every patent granted is "new, useful, and nonobvious". You have obviously never spent any time in the software industry. Patents granted on software are rarely if ever "new, useful, and nonobvious" Most of the time, they are granted on something old, used often or obvious to anyone tackling the same problem.

      Looking at a single illustration, out of context, and without more information, is not the proper way to frame it. That is, of course, unless you're writing another mindless, baseless, and idiotic piece for TechTurd.

      Or when someone is writing up a humorous post about crudely drawn patent illustrations.

      Seriously, were you born without a sense of humor or was it beaten out of you?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    I patented spots on cows fur/skin! Anyone who has cows with spots on them needs to pay me $100 in royalty payments!

     

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    The Anonymous Penguin, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 5:33am

    Run on

    The second purpose of the application is to provide enough information for someone skilled in the art the invention falls under to recreate the invention.

    I'm by no means a grammar guru, but am I the only one confused here?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 5:50am

      Re: Run on

      I'm sure it's just a paraphrase of whatever the Wikipedia page on patents says. :)

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 6:54am

      Re: Run on

      It means that if you are patenting say a method for making broadswords and skilled blacksmith should be able to look at your patent and then use your method.

      Someone who works in the field that your patent is related to can recreate whatever you are patenting just by looking at your application.

      In other words it is suppose to be clear, detailed, logical and concise. Which is a laugh if you look at most patent apps.

       

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 8:19am

      Re: Run on

      That sentence is a bit complicated, but it does get the point across reasonably well. The commenter above has explained it pretty well.

       

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    pr, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 6:47am

    Innovative Fish Processing Factory

    The last one is for a fish processing plant. In this case it's an assembly line in reverse. The traditional assembly line moves the work to the workers. In this one the workers ride by the work station on rail cars and perform the process rather than moving the fish, which can cause damage to the product. The worker depicted in the figure is whacking the fish on the head with a mallet. Other workers will ride by and behead, skin, and fillet, each applying his/her particular expertise while minimizing movement of the product.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 7:06am

    Merely FYI, the drawing for the scrotal support never issued as a patent. It was rejected because of prior art, the primary reference being the "swimsuit" worn by Sacha Cohen in his movie "Bruno".

     

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    Machin Shin (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 7:18am

    I really want to know what the patent number is for the kitten dispenser. I would love to read the full patent to figure out what the heck that thing is.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 7:50am

    Here, let me explain it to you simply using your own words:

    Zachary Knight Looks like someone clicking a cow on the internet. my 6 year-old's crayon drawings of Zachary Knight is way better. Zachary Knight might want to wear shoes while filling out a mine cart.

    Taken out of context, most things don't make sense.

     

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      That is not an example of taking something out of context. That is an example of remixing. While both have the ability to change the meaning of something else, they are wholly different methods.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re:

        I remixed your words AND took them out of context.

        Either way, it comes to the same thing - you cannot draw a conclusion from the images or "your" statement above.

         

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          E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 10:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Here, let me give you an example of taking something out of context:

          I...Cannot draw...the images...above.

          There. Now I have definitive proof that you are incapable of even crude drawings.

          PS: Yes, I know that even that is not a real example of taking something out of context. But it sure is funny.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It is... and the drawings, out of context, mean nothing. I see most of them as being part of video games.

             

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    Gwiz (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 7:55am

    Props Zach. Thanks to this article my day started off with a couple of belly laughs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    Well, it looks like my cat dispensing problems are finally sorted...

     

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      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      Well, it looks like my cat dispensing problems are finally sorted...
      Doubt it, the license fee will be way too high on a hot invention like that.....

       

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    squirrel (profile), Apr 24th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    still one of my favorite patents

    I have a somewhat questionably fun hobby of reading patents. This is one of my all time favorites: http://www.google.com/patents/US20060228983

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 5:41pm

      Re: still one of my favorite patents

      To clarify, what is linked is a patent application, and not an issued patent. Clearly, it was prepared and filed by the inventor without the assistance of an attorney. As of today it has not been issued as a patent (and given what I read and the claims it is highly doubtful it ever will).

       

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    DMNTD, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

    funny...

    Great fun, but I have to say that this all brings to light the problems with money and locking something down. The fact that the idea behind patents and money being involved is only "good ideas" get through. Enough evidence has proved that is false and a joke to any society that has survived.

    Patents on a real evaluated level can make sense but as long as the select few are the ones getting patents then like all other things there is no room for creativity or competition. It's as bad as "quotas" and police...nothing good happens when you have to be self-fulfilling. Patents on the real, equals no profit to the entities evaluating.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    OMG, there's a g-g-g-GUN in one picture! Quick, call the police! The FBI! Alert the media! There's a terrorist in our midst! It's the end of civilization as we know it!

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), Apr 25th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Patent illustrations

    Boy, is someone ever missing the point! Apparently they know nothing about patent law.
    Illustrations (at least one, specifically) are REQUIRED in patents, and where they don't make sense this can lead to strange results.
    Further, a disclosure REQUIRES a related illustration, and an illustration REQUIRES a related disclosure (that's what the numbers with leaders are for, for the totally ignorant!).

     

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    SKitty, Apr 25th, 2012 @ 10:35am

    Fig.4B, Fig.4C, and Fig.2 are definitely designs for the remake of Final Fantasy VIII! That cute little flying figure 403/405 is unmistakeably a Buel, and the hideous wrinkly deformed guy in fig.2 is definitely Fake President Vinzer Deling!

     

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    Clipping Path, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 10:04pm

    WHich one is your daughter's????

    WHich one is your daughter's????

     

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