April's patents pick 5 article

Fashion Quirks for the Spring

The snow melts from the ground, the flowers begin to bloom, and people come out of their homes to enjoy the change in weather. Out with the heavy jackets and boots, and in with the new spring fashions. Below is a list of interesting patented designs you might want to consider adding to your wardrobe, or maybe not…

Note: This article is part of an ongoing series detailing some of the Inventors Eye staff’s favorite patents. For each article, the writer selects their five favorite patents under a given theme. This list is from Office of Innovation Development intern Rachel Cotton.


Beach Towel and Garment
U.S. Patent No. 2,420,344

I love the beach. I was practically raised on one. But I was always irritated when putting my clothes back on over a wet bathing suit. What was the answer to my lifelong problem? U.S. 2,420,344. In May of 1947, Verna Cook Alexander patented a multi-purpose beach towel. When laid out on the sand it works as any ordinary beach towel, but it has a few quirks that make it worth checking out. It can be transformed into a garment to wear. The detailed patent drawings show how it can be tied around your neck like a cape and then tied again at the waist, or wrapped around your body like a dress. Although it never caught on, this towel serves as an interesting addition to the beach life and style.


Method and Means for Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion
U.S. Patent No. 5,255,452 

The King of Pop was talented in many aspects. Michael Jackson's music and dancing continues to inspire many entertainers today. His dancing skills in particular made a mark on the entertainment industry, most notably his gravity-defying “smooth criminal” lean. How did he do it? It was all in his shoes, which he patented in 1993. U.S. 5,255,452 describes how the specially designed heel slot can engage with a hitch projecting through the surface of a stage. Dancers would just slide their feet forward to engage with the hitch member, creating the infamous gravity-defying lean. Maybe you want to consider this legendary move as part of your fashion repertoire?


Date Hat
U.S. Patent No.

This one made me laugh when I found it. At first I thought that it was just a hat that told what day it was, but that isn’t the case. The hat described in U.S. 2,749,555 does display the days of the week, a 12-hour clock, and dials to point to at the date desired. The inventor, Edward T. Oliveira, patented this hat in 1956. Its intended purpose was for girls to wear it in order to indicate what day and time they had a date with a boy, since it was a “disadvantage not to be able to tell whether a girl is already dated for the particular day and hour.” Oliveira claimed it was meant to save boys time and even embarrassment from rejection. Definitely a relic of a bygone era.


Improvement in Tournures
U.S. Patent No. 

 When thinking about women’s fashion from the 1800s, I realize I really take my sweatpants for granted. U.S. 114,624 is an example of one of the many bustle types popular in the late 1800s. A bustle is a type of framework made out of flat skirt wires to expand the fullness of the back of a woman’s dress. It’s a wonder how they were able to sit down in them.


Baseball Cap with Interchangeable Logos
U.S. Patent No. 

With spring comes the great American pastime of baseball. Going to a ballgame usually consists of being decked out in your favorite team’s gear: jerseys, foam fingers, baseball gloves, and most famously the baseball cap. Wearing your team’s logos shows your pride and support, but what happens when you aren’t sure who to root for? Why not just bring a baseball cap that allows you to change sides? U.S. 5,509,144, patented in 1996, is a hat that permits interchangeable logos. Although this could be used to promote any kind of logo or label, I would find it useful to bring it to a baseball game and just change the logo of the hat to whichever team is winning. Sure you’ll most likely be called for jumping on the bandwagon, but at least you’ll always be rooting for the winning team.

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The USPTO gives you useful information and non-legal advice in the areas of patents and trademarks. The patent and trademark statutes and regulations should be consulted before attempting to apply for a patent or register a trademark. These laws and the application process can be complicated. If you have intellectual property that could be patented or registered as a trademark, the use of an attorney or agent who is qualified to represent you in the USPTO is advised.