Chair upholstered with sports jersey
US Patent No. 7,340,813
Issued March 11, 2008
This is an interesting invention for many reasons. While this may seem like a silly invention to some, I think this is a very creative invention that is well worth protecting. Yes, I just might surprise long time readers of IPWatchdog.com by not making fun of a patent profiled under the heading “obscure patent.”
Despite the fact that I won’t be poking fun at this invention, we can still learn from this application for several reasons. First, why would anyone want to patent this type of device? If you look at the patent application you will notice that this application has been assigned to Jersey Chair, Inc. While I know nothing about this company other than what is on its website, it is clear that they are offering these unique chairs for sale. Now that a US patent has issued covering the invention the company can market the chairs as being patented, and up until the patent issued earlier this week they were able to market the chair using the coveted terms “patent pending.” If you have a product or are offering a service it can be an extremely wise investment to file a patent application and hope for the best. During the pendency of the application you receive marketing benefit from the term “patent pending” or “patent applied for,” and if a patent issues then you can use the term “patented.” For some this marketing benefit is worth the time and expense to file a patent application. This is true because the general public does not know much, if anything, about patents except that it means that the government has recognized the invention as unique. Some in the general public probably even think a patented product is superior, which is not a requirement at all, but the advertising bang is just as beneficial.
Next, we can learn from this patent by looking at the drawings. It does not appear as if these drawings are professional illustrations, but they are very good nevertheless. Typically you do not want to go with anything less than professional patent drawings, so please do not think I am suggesting that do-it-yourself drawings is a good way to proceed. That notwithstanding, if you look at these drawings you notice that they show the overall invention and then also provide various figures that show the chair and the fabric in various states of togetherness. In order to do this there are multiple drawings, but that is what you need to think about when filing a patent application. Do not think of an illustration, drawing or figure in the singular, but rather think about what drawings can be filed that show the invention from different angles and in various stages of togetherness. Multiple, even slightly redundant drawings can be an excellent way to broaden the scope of any patent application.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, now that there is a US patent issued knock-offs are much less likely. In my past I have represented individuals who only wanted to have a patent application on file so that they could attempt to persuade would-be copyists from producing knock-offs. The term “patent pending” can do that, but the term “patented” certainly has that type of formative impact. Very few will knowingly infringe, so obtaining a patent can be a good investment for that reason alone. This is particularly true when you are dealing with arts and crafts. The next time you are at a craft fair take a look around and you are likely to see a number of vendors selling extremely similar things. This industry is full of copyists, so if you come up with something particularly exciting filing a patent application could be the best decision you ever make.
The morale of the story is this — there are many valid reasons to seek patent protection, and you might just be able to get such protection if you try.