This particular invention is classified by the United States Patent Office as fitting in US Classification 40, which relates to card, pictures or signs. Specifically, this invention is classified as a person carried sign. How bizarre! I suppose you could characterize this invention as a person carried sign, but how many of you would have characterized this invention in that way? If you are raising your hand you know that you are lying. Go ahead, be honest with yourself! The patent classification system is extremely strange to those who are not intimately familiar with the thousands of different pigeon holes that an invention can be classified in. This is exactly what makes conducting a patent search difficult if not impossible for those who are not trained to conduct them. That is why so many conscientious inventors who actually try and do their own patent search come up short and do not find things that are relevant and findable. For more information on conducting your own patent search, which is always a good first step, see Patent Searching 101. For information about why you should do a patent search see Patent Search FAQs.
While this patent is probably obscure enough even without comment, there is one thing in this patent that I want to point out because it is something that is quite well done and which many independent inventors fail to do, so it gives us a learning opportunity (yes… the professor in me is coming out once again). At the end of the patent the last paragraph reads:
For example, although the invention has been described in connection with reference to a boxing match, the invention may also be applicable to other widely broadcast, sporting and/or entertainment events. For example, as mentioned above, the invention can be implemented in, but not limited to, beach volleyball, professional wrestling, platform diving, swimming, kick boxing, ultimate fighting and triathlons. Accordingly, the invention is not limited by the foregoing description or drawings, but is only limited by the scope of the appended claims.
The last sentence is a catch-all savings type statement that merely explains what the law actually is. Patent rights are defined by the claims and not limited to the description, at least generally speaking. This, however, is not the interesting part. What is nicely done is the sentence immediately preceeding where the drafter of the application explains that the invention can be utilized in a series of other contexts. Whenever you invent something you absolutely should spend time thinking about how your invention could be used in other circumstances, and then explain that explicitly in the application. Typically you would not want to merely list other situations where it could be used, but rather you would want to provide the list and then go on to explain in at least a sentence or two how the invention could be used in the other identified circumstances. Here, given that the invention is relatively simple (i.e., writing on the back) no additional explanation is necessary really because once these other circumstances are listed the reader will immediately appreciate how the invention would be used. This is the rare situation though. You are always better off to spend time describing each potential alternative use.
Now I will leave you with a couple paragraphs from the patent, coming from the Summary of the Invention:
The present invention provides an improved advertising system. The new system is eye-catching and capable of efficiently reaching a very large number of targeted people repeatedly (or for an extended duration), but yet, is very cost-effective. The invention may be employed to provide greater assurance to the advertiser that the advertisement is actually seen by the desired audience. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, a person’s back is used as a support for the advertisement. The human back skin surface area (particular, the back surface that extends over and between the shoulder blades) may be ideally exposed, broad and planar for affixing and displaying the advertisement.
According to one aspect of the invention, the advertisement may be provided on the person’s back for display during a sporting/entertainment event which is broadcast to a large audience through audio/visual media such as television. According to one aspect of the invention, the event is a boxing match and the advertisement is affixed directly on the boxer’s back. The advertisement is sufficiently large such that it is legible and comprehensible to the viewing audience. Also, the advertisement is affixed utilizing a material which is removable but yet resistant to smudging from physical contact and/or perspiration.