As the festive season approaches, here is a quick look at what seasonal offerings the patent databases had to offer.
Patents of Christmas Past
Title: Automatic Tree Fire Extinguisher
Patent no. US2522020
Patent date: 12 Sept 1950
The predecessor to stringed Christmas lights was the good old fashion candle, but, naturally, there was the risk that the tree could light up in more ways than one.
This patent claims a fire extinguisher designed to automatically put out festive fires. The extinguisher comprises a vertically disposed rod (10) and a decorative sealed fragile container (15) carrying a fire extinguishing liquid. Near top of the rod is a spring (11), held in a forcibly compressed position by a fusable element (18), such as solder. A freely slidable disc (16) is arranged to make contact with the container when the spring is released.
When a tree overheats/catches fire, the temperature of the rod increases. This increased heat causes the fusable element to melt, thereby releasing the spring. The freely slidable disc (16) is forced upwards as the spring pops up. The disc is arranged to collide with the fragile container as the spring is released, causing the container to break and releasing the fire-extinguishing liquid upon the tree.
Title: Device for Dispensing Tinsel and the like Adaptable for Decorating Christmas Trees
Patent no. US3494235
Patent date: 10 Feb 1970
What do you do when you find the process of dressing your house in tinsel tedious and tiresome? Fire it through a gun of course.
This next patent claims a device for dispensing tinsel (or similar such material). A tinsel supply is provided at one end of the device (shown here as a roll (30)). A nipping roller (21) guides the tinsel through the device, and a guide arrangement (41, 41’, 44, 44’) guides the tinsel from the nipping roller towards an idler roller (26). A cutting blade (37) sits in a flexed position against the idler roller, so as to trim the tinsel when the device is not in use, and to move to allow free passage of the tinsel past the blade when the deivce is in use.
When the trigger (35) is pressed, a circuit is completed to drive the nipping roller to feed tinsel through the device and towards the idler roller. Pressing the trigger also moves the cutting blade away from the idler roller, such that the tinsel is able to exit the device uninterupted.
Releasing the trigger causes cutting blade to be forced back against the idler roller, cutting the tinsel, and also breaks the circuit driving the nipping roller.
Title: Christmas ornament structure
Patent no. EP3315053
Intention to grant issued on: 15 Oct 2019
An intention to grant a patent related to the humble bauble was issued earlier this year. This patent claims a Christmas ornament structure comprising a hollow glass ball (3) and a ceramic cap (4). The hollow glass ball comprises a blow orifice part (31) which forms an arc-shaped connection with the glass ball. The cap has a body (41), an opening (411) a concavely shaped inner wall (412) and a hollow structure (413).
The blow orifice part of the ball enters the hollow structure (413) of the cap via the opening, and the inner walls of the cap closely fit the arc shaped connection of the ball. The ball and the cap are fixedly bonded.
It is disclosed that the fitting arrangement of the ball and the cap eradicates the need for extra connectors found in conventional baubles and allows fewer weight restrictions on the decoration. The ceramic material of the cap also lends itself to different colours and profiles.
Title: Turkey Leg Holder
Patent no. EP3277603
Intention to grant issued: 29 Oct 19
With the Christmas feast comes a lot of Christmas leftovers, and sometimes conventional storage containers simply will not do.
An early version of a claim directed towards a turkey leg holder defined a container suitable for holding a turkey leg (70), having a pair of supports for securing the turkey leg within the container and a rotation device attached to the supports to allow rotation of the turkey leg within the container. During prosecution the examiner cited a known container for a sports ball against this claim. After all, a container for a sports ball is suitable for also holding a turkey leg.
The claim was eventually amended to include a number of additional features. The supports are required to be positioned at opposite ends of the container and to be structurally different. The container comprises a rotation device having a rotating grip (28) extending through a stiffening ring (34) and engaging with a spring tube (38) within the container such that when the spring tube rotates the rotating grip also rotates. Further, the spring tube is positioned within a fixed tube (44), with an end of the fixed tube near the rotating grip being configured to engage with the stiffening ring and an end of the fixed tube distal from the rotating grip configured to engage with an end cap (54). Finally, a spring is positioned within the fixed tube and the end cap is configured to put pressure on the spring tube, thereby pushing the rotating grip away from the end cap.
Patents of Christmas Future
Could we perhaps expect to see applications for a machine-learning Santa, able to determine the perfect present for every child accurately? Perhaps a genetically modified flying reindeer? Or will we be forever perfecting the humble bauble? Festive patents, like all other patents, appear to cover both small yet practical improvements of known objects as well as weird and fanciful inventions. So here’s hoping that in true inventive spirit, we’re in for more rotating Christmas trees and flying sleighs in the Christmases to come.