I'll finish up the week with something a bit out of my usual range. I talk about patents and intellectual property around here from time to time, and it's easy for me to think of pharmaceutical patents as the centerpiece of the whole system. They're important, but it's good to be reminded that there are a lot of other things that people feel are worth claiming.
A lot of other things. . .via Greg Aharonian's patent mailing list, I present for your perusal US Patent 6,805,663, freshly issued as of October 19th. If you have a TIFF viewer plugin for your browser (or are using a Mac with a recent version of QuickTime), you can see the images for this patent. I'm not sure if this direct link will work, but
it's worth trying for the front page drawing to see if you can figure out what it's for. Believe me, you can't. (UPDATE: that link doesn't work very well, but courtesy of the deviants at Fark.com, here's a link to a PDF of the patent drawings. But you still won't be able to guess what's going on.)
Give up? Here's the full text, which should make everything clear. Why, it's a "Method of Shared Erotic Experience and Facilities For Same," of course. The claims and specifications make this the first patent I've encountered that I would be uncomfortable reading aloud in public.
The inventors appear to be a husband-and-wife team from California, and they must be a fun couple indeed. What I find particularly interesting is their description of the prior art. They actually cite 10 relevant patents, which means that there's a whole world of intellectual property I'd never dreamed of. Here's hoping that none of us have inadvertently infringed any of these.
Actually, there could be a pharma angle to all this. Note that the facility theyre describing includes some sort of concession stand. Perhaps this is a marketing opportunity in the vicious promotional fight between Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis! I can imagine blue- or purple-painted domes, with a helpful MD distributing free samples. . .but then, I have a pretty good imagination. But not as good as the folks who came up with this patent.