Canada’s Intellectual Property Firm

The innovator's guide to summer

Authored byPatrick Roszell

In recent years, there have been over 200,000 patent applications filed annually in the United States and approximately 40,000 patent applications filed annually in Canada. Although protecting innovation is serious business, inevitably, many of these inventions have a lighter side. In honour of the season, we present below a selection of inventions that we feel propose amusing ways to enjoy the summer.

Getting your rest and relaxation. In the summertime, it is important to take a moment to slow down and enjoy the sun. United States Patent No. 6,698,029, titled "Pants Convertible into Hammock," proposes a novel way to do just that. According to the ’029 patent, a pair of pants zips apart at the inseam, and, using a set of extendible rods stored in the pants, can connect to any adjacent structure to create a comfortable hammock. The hammock pants of the ’029 patent surely represent an advancement in the art of furniture-convertible clothing over the earlier U.S. Patent No. 672,730, which describes a convertible blouse/pant garment, but which lacks a structure when in hammock form, and U.S. Patent No. 1,138,229, which describes a poncho convertible into a tent. The ’029 patent, however, leaves at least one problem unsolved: a user may carry around a portable hammock with (relative) ease, but apparently must sunbathe without pants.

Keeping refreshed. While reclining on a hammock in the sun, one might wish to enjoy a cool, refreshing drink. In this regard, U.S. Patent No. 6,637,447, titled "Beerbrella," describes an indispensible tool. The Beerbrella is a small umbrella device, attachable to a beverage container to shade it from the sun and keep the beverage cool. According to the ’447 patent, the Beerbrella may also be embellished with decorative palm trees to create just the right "tropical paradise" atmosphere.

U.S. Patent No. 5,107,548, titled "Cooler Cap," describes another useful device — a cap with a removable front panel that can be wrapped around a cold beverage can as an insulator. There are likely more fashionable caps available, but it is reassuring to know that, while wearing the Cooler Cap, one will never be caught unawares by a cold beverage.

For those who desire more choice, U.S. Patent No. 4,681,244 offers a solution. The ’244 patent, titled "Portable Bar," describes a hat with a number of containers and a sophisticated valve system to transport, dispense and even mix a variety of different beverages. Wearers need never be without a selection of their preferred refreshments. Neck pain may be a problem, however.

Keeping cool. Sometimes a cold drink just isn't enough to provide relief from the heat. A common solution is to stay inside an air-conditioned building, but no one wants to stay inside all summer long. We have found some clever inventions that bring the cooling power of air conditioning outside.

U.S. Patent No. 6,543,247 describes a waist-mounted evaporative personal cooler. According to the application, it requires "the user to do little or nothing to get its benefit" (except, of course, lugging around a heavy, noisy apparatus).

U.S. Patent Application No. 11/739,987 describes an air-conditioned tent assembly. Now it is possible to enjoy the great outdoors in a comfortable, climate-controlled environment!

U.S. Patent No. 5,375,430 describes a fabulous idea for those who like to exercise outside all summer long — a gravity-powered shoe air conditioner. The shoe has a heel that collapses as a user walks, functioning as a compressor for a built-in air conditioning unit. Unfortunately, we fear the end result may be a shoe that is great for keeping the wearer's feet cool, but not so great for walking.

Sometimes, all one needs to stay comfortable is a little protection from the sun. Shade is handily provided by the helium-filled sun shades described in U.S. Patent No. 5,076,029. Just don't tie one to your Chihuahua.

As any parent knows, keeping children cool and entertained at the same time can be a challenge. Parents often encourage children to play in water to achieve both aims. However, children can be fickle, and may tire quickly of the typical backyard pools and water toys. U.S. Patent No. 5,416,933 describes an excellent solution to toddler ennui — an apparatus for spraying water in a child's wading pool to simulate a typhoon. Apparently, the apparatus can also be used to simulate other extreme weather conditions — perhaps a nor'easter or a tornado?

Beating the bugs. Bugs can be a pesky problem in the Canadian summer. U.S. Patent Application No. 12/723,355 describes an invention sure to keep the number of flying insects down this year at the cottage — the "Bug Killing Gun." As described in the application, the gun is much better than traditional fly swatters, as these require "a certain skill and agility to be effective." Apparently, killing a fly with a firearm does not require either. Above all, the gun is, according to the application, also "entertaining to use and inexpensive to operate."

Staying slim. Summertime means beach time for many, but not everyone is ready for a swimsuit in July. The anti-eating face mask described in U.S. Patent No. 4,344,424, designed to assist in weight loss, is a somewhat radical solution. For those who struggle with self-control, it includes a sturdy lock behind the victim — pardon — wearer's eye. The wearer need not be afraid; the patent also states that the mask can be removed "under emergency conditions."

While we don't recommend rushing out to purchase any of these items, we do hope our review of these summer-related inventions brings a smile to your face.

The preceding is intended as a timely update on Canadian intellectual property and technology law. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. To obtain such advice, please communicate with our offices directly.