For many, the holiday season is full of Christmas spirit. From hanging Christmas lights atop a rickety ladder to set up the stocking over the fireplace, the joy of the season is never far. Additionally, the holiday season is full of innovation, from the stocking stuffers, and the presents under the Christmas tree to the fire starter fueling the fire. Protecting this Christmas innovation rests in the hands of patent law.
So, what is a patent?
A patent grants the inventor(s) a legal monopoly for 20 years in return for disclosing their invention to the public. The 20-year term begins from the filing date of the patent application. This monopoly grants the inventor(s) the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or offering to sell the invention within the United States.
Furthermore, to receive a patent, certain requirements must be met. In particular, the invention must serve a useful purpose, be novel, not be obvious, and be directed toward patent-eligible subject matter. Specifically, the patent-eligible subject matter includes a process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter.
To demonstrate the variety and creativity in patentable inventions, below are a couple of unique and fun Christmas patents.
In 1996, Mr. Cane received a patent on a new and non-obvious device for detecting when Santa Claus arrived. The detector visually signaled the arrival of Santa Claus by illuminating a light. When Santa Claus comes down through the chimney, a pull cord is tugged, activating a light source. This unique invention is a great way to ensure that you never miss a visit from Santa. The patent for the Santa Claus Detector has since expired and can be practiced by anyone looking to capture a glimpse of Santa Claus this year.
Unlike the previous Santa Claus Detector patent that has since expired, the Santa Claus Visit Kit remains an enforceable patent. Several small items are placed within a display and are included in the kit. The items assist Santa Claus is making his visit. The kit includes items, such as a means for making Santa’s boot print. Specifically, the boot prints mark an illusionary trail of Santa Claus for the amusement of a child.
As you can see, the possibilities of innovations available for patent protection are virtually endless. Overall, with the holiday season upon us, the presents are bound to contain some of the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. Next time to glance under your tree or at your neighbor’s lights, just think of what Christmas patents may be just around the corner.
A utility patent last 20 years from the filing date of the patent application.