Happy Valentine’s Day Patents
Valentine’s Day is upon us again—a day for lovers to express their undying affection for one another by giving gifts of chocolate, sweets, flowers, diamonds and even love coupons. While most people wouldn’t think Valentine’s Day is a holiday worthy of filing a patent, it’s actually a day for inventors to put on their thinking caps and come up with new ways to express the amorous sentiments of the day. Maybe the US Patent Office can give you some inspiration to make your loved one happy.
It’s not very romantic, but for the fact that it was Valentine’s Day in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell filed the first patent for the telephone—beating out a fellow inventor, Elisha Gray, who also filed a patent for the telephone. Because Bell filed first, however, he received one of the most valuable patents ever. On that very same Valentine’s Day, Bell filed a patent on an Improved Telegraphy method—it’s easy to muse about those early “love telegraphs” sent in Morse code: -. .– –
The early 20th Century’s Men of Science were convinced that, along with smashing the atom and man’s triumph over the gasoline engine, life’s mysteries—at least the mystery of love—could be solved by the “Love Tester Machine,” for which these venerable scientists were issued a design patent for a device that could give reliable data, for only one penny, on the “Measure of Your Sex Appeal.” A rather scandalous invention of its era.
U.S. Patent No. 4,508,520 covers a more modern, new and useful “love tester” called a “Light-emitting Heart-shaped Novelty.” Its primary object is to provide amusement when a person touches and presses a plastic momentary switch lightly to cause a plastic heart to illuminate. The illuminating plastic heart, by definition and direction of its inventors, is meant to symbolically represent a signal to its user that “love” exists. When the momentary switch is released, an electrical circuit opens, and the illumination stops.
Of course, our modern Digital Age has its own “love tester”—Internet dating. The famous patent associated with the Internet dating phenomenon, “eHarmony,” is U.S. Patent 6,735,568, a method to be performed by a computer for operating a matching service, by, Of course, our modern Digital Age has its own “love tester”—Internet dating. The famous patent associated with the Internet dating phenomenon, “eHarmony,” is U.S. Patent 6,735,568, a method to be performed by a computer for operating a matching service, by generating, from empirical data, “a number of factors corresponding to a like number of functions of one or more variables relevant to relationship satisfaction”—in other words, using mathematics to match people in a way so they would have the best chance of forming a long, meaningful love relationship.
What better way to say, “I love you,” than with the gift of a patented method of proposing marriage. Who could outdo that kind of proposal? Inventor Ryan Grace of Nebraska, a practicing patent lawyer, in 2003, decided to write one of the most romantic patents ever. While most marriage proposals employ a diamond on the bottom of a champagne flute or a message written in the sky, this unique patent provides for a method for proposing by taking the following steps: “meeting the individual; exchanging names with the individual; dating the individual (not necessary); drafting a patent application having a proposal to marry the individual incorporated therein; and showing the application to the individual.” Interestingly, the US Patent Office examined and rejected the patent application four years later because the “inventor” failed to respond and make a proper filing with the Patent Office. His marriage (if his proposal was not also rejected) hopefully is faring well.
Diamonds are well represented in the US Patent Office by around 400 design patents for shapes and arrangements of diamonds and around 200 patents for methods of cutting and polishing diamonds. Eight issued patents, such as US Patent No. 8,351,181, for a heart-shaped diamond cut, use the word “Heart” in their titles.
The US Patent Office has issued over 600 patents relating to Valentine’s Day candy and about 400 relating specifically to Valentine’s chocolate. But my personal favorite Valentine’s Day patent, however, is probably out of the price range of the average Joe. This newest chocolate-related patent, US Patent No. 9,185,293 has to take the prize for the best invention ever: who wouldn’t love a 3D printer with a 3D printing method of chocolate? Next year maybe….