Bizarre Patents

This is simply too funny:

A five-year-old kid from Minnesota has patented a way of swinging on a child's swing. The US Patent Office issued patent 6,368,227 on 9 April to Steven Olson of St Paul, Minnesota for a "method of swinging on a swing". Olson's father Peter is a patent attorney.

The award has generated a mixture of chuckles and frustration at an overworked patent system unable to catch absurd applications. The patent covers moving a swing side to side or in an oval pattern. Children can get bored by swinging back and forth, or by twisting the swing to make it spin, the patent says.

"A new method of swinging on a swing would therefore represent an advance of great significance and value," it reads. Olson's alternative is to pull on one chain at a time, so the swing moves towards the side being pulled.

Peter Olson told New Scientist: "I had told him that if he invented something he could file a patent." His son had not seen sideways swinging because the swings at his school are closely spaced, so he asked his father to file the application.

The patent office initially rejected the application for prior art - citing two earlier patents on swings - but Peter Olson appealed, noting that neither was a method for swinging sideways. The patent was then issued. . . . .

Update: A friend of mine who is a lawyer writes me that:

" I've read the swinging patent. It is now expired, for failure to pay maintenance fees, so you can now go out and swing sideways.

"Have you heard of the patent for a method for aerobically exercising a cat? You wave a laser pointer around and let the cat chase it."


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