People hate patents. Mostly because the media loves to portray patents as a tool of our evil corporate overlords. And if the bad guy isn’t the big company trying to use a patent to crush the little guy, it’s the patent office that issues a patent on something that is so ridiculous, so well-known, that the patent should never have been granted.

The truth is, most of the time the folks that get and use patents are just trying to protect their innovation, or their investment in research and development. And patents are pretty good at doing what they were intended to do: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. That’s from the Constitution. From Article 1, Section 8, to be precise.

But don’t think that I never met a patent I didn’t like. Trust me, I see an endless parade of highly questionable patents. For your edification and enjoyment, here are a few of my favorites:

U.S. Patent No. 5,443,036 — Method of exercising a cat

Claim 1. A method of inducing aerobic exercise in an unrestrained cat comprising the steps of:

(a) directing an intense coherent beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus to produce a bright highly-focused pattern of light at the intersection of the beam and an opaque surface, said pattern being of visual interest to a cat; and

(b) selectively redirecting said beam out of the cat’s immediate reach to induce said cat to run and chase said beam and pattern of light around an exercise area.

Yup. A patent on getting your cat to chase a laser pointer.

U.S. Patent No. 5,616,089 — Method of Putting

Claim 1. A method of gripping a putter comprising the steps:

gripping a putter grip with a dominant hand;

placing a non-dominant hand over an interior wrist portion of the dominant hand behind a thumb of the dominant hand;

resting a middle finger of the non-dominant hand on the styloid process of the dominant hand;

pressing a ring finger and a little finger of the non-dominant hand against the back of the dominant hand;

pressing the palm of the non-dominant hand against a forward surface of the putter grip as the non-dominant hand squeezes the dominant hand.

Uhhhh…and exactly HOW are you going to enforce this?

U.S. Patent No. 6,025,810 — Hyper-light-speed antenna

Claim 1. A method to transmit and receive electromagnetic waves comprising:

generating opposing magnetic fields each having a plane of maximum force running perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the respective magnetic field;

generating heat from a heat source along an axis parallel to the longitudinal axis of the magnetic field;

generating an accelerator parallel to and in close proximity to the heat source, thereby creating an electromagnetic injection point; and

generating a communication signal into the electromagnetic injection point, thereby sending and receiving the communication signal at a speed faster than a known speed of light.

Faster than light communication! So, why aren’t we talking to Alpha Centauri?

U.S. Patent No. 6,039,951 — Method for attaining erection of the human sexual organs

Claim 1. A method for attaining an erection of a human sexual organ comprising applying a composition comprising an effective amount of a chili pepper extract and a carrier selected from the group consisting of lubricants, oils and creams and mixtures thereof topically to the sexual organ.

Oh, HELL no.

U.S. Patent No. 6,368,227 — Method of swinging on a swing

Claim 1. A method of swinging on a swing, the method comprising the steps of:

a) suspending a seat for supporting a user between only two chains that are hung from a tree branch;

b) positioning a user on the seat so that the user is facing a direction perpendicular to the tree branch;

c) having the user pull alternately on one chain to induce movement of the user and the swing toward one side, and then on the other chain to induce movement of the user and the swing toward the other side; and

d) repeating step c) to create side-to-side swinging motion, relative to the user, that is parallel to the tree branch.

Wait, I’m pretty sure that’s been done before….by every kid that ever sat in a swing.

U.S. Patent No. 6,805,663 — Method of shared erotic experience and facilities for same

1. A method of sharing erotic experiences comprising the steps of:

providing a building with a plurality of compartments and entertainment viewable from inside the compartments;

admitting participants to the building and the compartments;

starting the entertainment viewable from inside the compartments at a prescribed time;

starting a stimulation device for sexual pleasure in each of the compartments at a prescribed time; and,

transferring sounds from the participants between the compartments.

No comment.

U.S. Patent No. 6,960,975 — Space vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state

Abstract: A space vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state is provided comprising a hollow superconductive shield, an inner shield, a power source, a support structure, upper and lower means for generating an electromagnetic field, and a flux modulation controller. A cooled hollow superconductive shield is energized by an electromagnetic field resulting in the quantized vortices of lattice ions projecting a gravitomagnetic field that forms a spacetime curvature anomaly outside the space vehicle. The spacetime curvature imbalance, the spacetime curvature being the same as gravity, provides for the space vehicle’s propulsion. The space vehicle, surrounded by the spacetime anomaly, may move at a speed approaching the light-speed characteristic for the modified locale.

Someone has watched WAY too much Star Trek.