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Necessity is the mother of invention. The father is unknown.
The following are all real patents issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Thong Diaper

patent#: US D539422

In the paraphrased words of Sisqo, "All the scandalous babies in the house show your thong th thong thong thong." What possible justification is there for a thong diaper? Does less plastic mean they are environmentally friendly? Are they to help adults who can't control their bowels feel sexy? Unfortunately for us, in a design patent no explanation is needed.

filed under Babies, Underwear
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posted on 6/17/2010, patent issued on 3/27/2007

Thong Diaper
Optical Illusion Wear

Optical Illusion Wear

patent#: US 7107621

There are many ways to obtain a slimmer figure: exercise, dieting, amphetamines. But sometimes, even popping pills is just too much work. Sometimes a lady just wants to create a "false or deceptive visual impression," without the hassle. There's nothing wrong with manipulating someone's cognitive processes, is there? It's the oldest trick in the book! Think of it as beer goggles without the drinking.

filed under Bathing Suits, Exercise
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posted on 6/17/2010, patent issued on 9/19/2006

Internal Implement Allotropy Sexual Aid Utensil Universal-DISK

patent#: US 7131444

You might not have known such standards existed, but this somewhat awkwardly titled patent sets "a new standard for internal personal prevention worn in the female vagina." It is an anti-rape device, quite admirable in its thoroughness:

This invention is inserted into the vagina of a female wearing it in the same way as a tampon length wise and pushing it into the vaginal cavity. Upon placement in the vagina, the invention blocks the entrance to the vagina, and exposes a resilient hollow receptacle tip covering a sharp circular projectile disk with a dimensional center hole covering the specimen cavity. The sharp projectiles will inflict a sharp non-lethal pain to head of the penis attempting to penetrate the vagina, and the dimensional center hole is designed to collect specimens when the head of the penis makes contact with the sharp circular projectile disk.

It slices! It dices! And it takes evidence!

Rape? Sharp projectiles piercing penises? How is this a Patently Silly invention? Because, as the inventor acknowledges:

Men considering rape, after this invention becomes known, will hopefully not attempt it, with the dread that any women [sic] could be wearing this.

Just the idea of it is enough—it doesn't even need to become a product to be effective. So help me spread the word!

filed under Weapons
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posted on 6/17/2010, patent issued on 11/7/2006

Internal Implement Allotropy Sexual Aid Utensil Universal-DISK
Hip Hop Aerobic Exercise Doll

Hip Hop Aerobic Exercise Doll

patent#: US 7128691

I can't decide which is odder, doing hip hop aerobics with a robotic doll or incorporating VHS tapes into a 21st century technology.

As the video plays this doll gets jiggy to the soundtrack. Overweight American children will presumably be inspired to shake their bloated, candy-fed behinds along with this Caucasian-looking, hip hop-dancing automaton. According to the inventor, this groovy golem "will promote better health in the youth," "significantly reduce medical costs associated with overweight people," and, thankfully, "be made available with designer clothing."

filed under Exercise
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posted on 6/16/2010, patent issued on 10/31/2006

Apparatus for Cat's Cradle Game

patent#: US 7104865

While doing the Cat's Cradle has proved to be a bonding experience for young girls across generations, let's face it... some girls just don't have friends. Be they gossips, backstabbers, sluts, or just plain new in town, someday you may find yourself a girl down on your luck with no one willing to convey taut pieces of string from their hands to yours and vice versa.

Or, maybe you do have friends, but they lack the dexterity to accomplish complicated twine transferals, or maybe they simply don't have fingers.

And sometimes isn't it just more rewarding to transpose loops of cord into the rubbery digits of an animatronic companion? There's something reassuring about little girls and robots cooperating in the intimate task of strategically transmitting yarn designs, isn't there?

filed under Toys
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posted on 6/16/2010, patent issued on 9/12/2006

Apparatus for Cat's Cradle Game
Body Hair and Feet Drying Chair

Body Hair and Feet Drying Chair

patent#: US 7117611

Patents have so much to teach us... like a new word for butt crack!--"gluteal cleft"

Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? "Excuse me, sir, but your cloven gluteas is scaring the children."

Yes, this crotch drier blows hot air right in the spot where it usually makes an exit.

Reading through the patent, I couldn't help wondering if this line was intentional. The bottom is designed "to distribute weight forces and minimize the development of small cracks in the base." But hey if they develop, we'll dry 'em!

filed under Shower
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posted on 6/16/2010, patent issued on 10/10/2006

Lap Dance Liner

patent#: US RE039371

It is said that Thomas Edison's laboratory went through over a hundred thousand failed prototypes for each successful invention. One can only hope that in the quest for his perfect liner, Wesley K. Johnson went through that many lap dances.

I don't think this invention needs much explanation, but one sentence in this patent surprised me. The inventor points out that the pouch "captures fluids released prior to, and during the lap dance act." Prior to? Now that's excitable!

filed under Underwear, Condoms
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posted on 6/16/2010, patent issued on 10/31/2006

Lap Dance Liner

Patently Silly Causes International Lesbian Controvery--BBC Cautions Graham Norton Over Joke

patent#: US RE039371

I just learned that Graham Norton was given an official warning by the BBC over comments he made during the Patently Silly segment he did last spring. As a comedian, it's a peculiar honor to cause such controversy. Who knew a patent illustration could spark such lively debate between gays and lesbians?



The segment was based on commentary I wrote on the Jumpsuit for a Woman and Method of Use. I refer to the woman in the patent illustration as a "butch" lesbian. This is not a derogatory term, nor an offensive sexual stereotype. In fact, this is the term that many lesbians in the United States use to self-identify. I don't know why Graham changed "butch" to "strange". Perhaps the word "butch" doesn't have the same connotations in the UK. As Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction put it, Butch is an American name and "American names don't mean s#*t."

And a big part of being butch is how you look! Ask any lesbian what a "butch" looks like and I'm sure they will mention short hair. For goodness sake, it's step #5 in this article on How to Be a Butch Lesbian.

And check out her confident stare as she squats half-naked before the patent examiner. Excellent form! Take that bureaucrat!

butch lesbian

Shame on the BBC. We should be celebrating this example of gender diversity in our public records. After all, real women don't look like this.

filed under Underwear
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posted on 9/30/2009

Patently Silly's First Animation!: a Better Mouse Trap

patent#: US RE039371



I am really excited to launch Patently Silly's first animation, in conjunction with my new book Patently Silly: From the Collapsible Walker to the Incinerating Toilet, the Craziest Inventions Ever Devised! I've been obsessed with the Portable Electrical Mouse Trap since I first came across its improbable illustrations in 2005. There was a complete story in the sequence of patent drawings that had to be animated!

Ralph Waldo Emerson is attributed with saying, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door."

Inventor Charles Jordan's door deserves a steady stream of knocks -- if not from vermin-ridden homeowners than by art gallery owners.

His counter-intuitive design gives mice a choice between two powerful instincts: a sensible fear of sharp-fanged housecats and an unquenchable addiction to stinky cheese. Basically, it kills the idiots and the junkies.

And if you enjoyed this animation, you would definitely like my book, Patently Silly: From the Collapsible Walker to the Incinerating Toilet, the Craziest Inventions Ever Devised.

filed under Underwear
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posted on 5/26/2009

PS on the BBC's the Graham Norton Show!

patent#: US RE039371

The producers of The Graham Norton Show found a good segueway into Patently Silly when Oscar-nominated actor Greg Kinnear came on to promote his movie Flash of Genius (about the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper). Hilarity ensued.

filed under Underwear
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posted on 4/26/2009

Voice Communication Concerning a Local Entity

patent#: US 7113911

This has to be one of the strangest patent illustrations I've ever seen. Is this the future of telephone help lines? "I am a plant. How can I help you?"

The patent explains:

The voice services thus acts as a voice dialog proxy for the plant and gives the impression to the person... that they are conversing with the plant.
And what a stimulating conversation that will be! "How are the seedlings doing? Your leaves are looking lovely—photosynthesis sure has been kind!"

If you've ever wanted "voice interaction with a local dumb device" might I suggest going to your local pub?

filed under For the Garden, Computers
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posted on 10/16/2008, patent issued on 9/26/2006

Voice Communication Concerning a Local Entity
Office Gym Exercise Kit

Office Gym Exercise Kit

patent#: US 7137935

The cubicle has become more than just a semi-private workspace. In today's workaholic culture it also doubles as a dining room, art gallery and YouTube mini-theater. So why not use it as a gym?

This kit provides a full range of arm, leg and back exercises. All you need is a chair, a desire to get fit and a willingness to look stupid.

filed under Exercise, Cubicles
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posted on 10/6/2008, patent issued on 11/21/2006

Cross USB Drive

patent#: US D533179

Because Jesus saves.

filed under Computers, Made Fun
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posted on 3/31/2008, patent issued on 12/5/2006

Cross USB Drive
Religious Lamp with Fluid Flow

Religious Lamp with Fluid Flow

patent#: US 7118242

Jesus said in the book of John, "I am the light of the world." Now have him light up your living room!

But of course, a light up Jesus would seem too simple to be patentable. But what if we add a little animatronics? According to the patent, "Jesus' head rises with light actuation." That's right, wake him up right at his most painful moment.

But the spiritual uplift doesn't end there. The inventor threw in some dripping blood pumps for that I-can't-believe-how-much-this-guy-suffered-for-me effect.

Mel Gibson, why hast thou not pursued the merchandising tie-in?

filed under Made Fun
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posted on 6/5/2007, patent issued on 10/10/2006

Method of Using a Water Pipe

patent#: US 7122000

I had heard of snorting coke off of a strippers tits, but taking a bong hit out of her vagina?

This "water pipe providing sexual stimulation" seems to be just too depraved to be true. In instances such as this, I find it best to let the patent do the talking:

"The lower end cooperates with the wall of the vagina to form a water reservoir holding water in the lower end and the vagina. A stem is received into the inlet port with an end opening submerged in the water reservoir. Suction applied at the exit port draws air through the stem to bubble through the water reservoir to generate stimulatory vibrations transmitted to the vagina. Optionally, a bowl holding combustible material communicates with the stem such that smoke bubbles through the water reservoir to simultaneously filter and cool the smoke and generate stimulatory vibrations."

I don't doubt that the experience is pleasurable, but pleasurable enough for a woman to allow bong water in her vagina? Perhaps the only thing not surprising about this patent is that it was invented in Vegas. Hopefully, it will stay there.

filed under Drugs, Dildos and Vibrators
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posted on 2/12/2007, patent issued on 10/17/2006

Method of Using a Water Pipe
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