Obscure Patent: The Deceptive Diaper

Packaging diaper with deceptive size
United States Patent 7,243,477
Issued July 17, 2007

So you think you have an idea regarding what this patent is by looking at the picture? I can guarantee that this picture provides absolutely no clues whatsoever. This patent covers a method of disguisedly packaging a diaper! See, I told you that you could not possibly have any idea based on the image above, which actually was the primary image printed on the first page of the patent.

This patent is obviously obscure because at least this drawing seems to have little or nothing to do with the subject matter, although a diaper disguised as a candy bar does seem to be deceptive, as the title suggests. It is also obscure because there are no fewer than 208 issued patents cited as references, with an additional 70 pending US patents and 60 foreign references also cited. I have never seen so many references cited in a patent. There are a full 2.5 pages of references. Does this mean that this is a crowded field? I suppose it does, but who knew that deceptive diaper packaging was so popular in the patent field?

In reality, the art of deceptive diaper packaging is probably not so popular that there are that many references. What this does show, however, is that there is a broad definition of prior art. For example, the Abstract says the the method:

includes the steps of: volumetrically reducing an absorbent article such that the volume of the absorbent article is less than a nominal volume of the absorbent article; and disposing the volumetrically reduced absorbent article within a package. The package includes a deceptive size and outward appearance such that it is not visually evident that an absorbent article is disposed therein.

With this in mind, anything that relates to diapers is certainly prior art, as is anything that relates to volumetrically reducing size, which must substantially stretch (pun intended) the amount of prior art applicable to this invention.

To see other obscure patents go to the Museum of Obscure Patents.

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