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Restless inventors patent everything — including sweet covers, haulers and even… perpetual motion machines
By Natalia Stasova
In his childhood, my brother was extremely inventive, and musical postcards were among his ‘favourites’. At first sight, such cards don’t seem special, but he managed to tear them in such a way that all our kitchen cupboards opened to a Vivaldi musical accompaniment. He failed to make our refrigerator musical but, impressively, he did invent a more useful device that enabled our carpets to be beaten automatically. If my brother had known about patents, he would definitely have become extremely famous.
Being interested in what our countrymen are inventing at present, I visited the National Centre of Intellectual Property.
Handmade writ of protection
“Some people think that patents are given to only those whose inventors who are likely to turn our world ‘upside down’,” explains the Centre’s Acting General Director, Piotr Brovkin. “Of course, this would be great if a patent agency ‘discovered’ a second Nikola Tesla. However, we are also contacted with things like perpetual mobiles, tags, labels or bottles. In this way, producers can protect their packaging from pirates.”
Quite often people come to a patent company to learn that their ‘invention’ already exists — sometimes being created a century ago. A situation might also happen when a person applies for a patent, but learns that another man, for example from America, has already patented such device and it’s already widely used on a global industrial scale.
To ascertain if an invention really is an invention, experts work hard studying dozens of works (including foreign) and data from sci-tech libraries. Sometimes, an inventor might fail to believe the expert decision. In this case they have the right to address the Centre’s Council of Appeal. However, the specialists are more often correct in their conclusions than not. It is their job, after all.
No way for immorality
Humorous situations often occur with patents, and such statements like ‘A perpetual motion device is on sale, with an 8 month guarantee’ are sometimes placed. Experts at the Centre are used to jokes of the kind. Not long ago, they received another perpetual motion application with an extremely short description: ‘A formula of perpetual motion. This device never stops owing to its own efforts’. The outcome seemed clear, but the ‘inventor’ even attempted to appeal to the court.
It’s even possible to receive a patent for a unique draniki (potato pancakes) recipe, but this seems unnecessary. Really, you might eat several hundred of them but a chef would never disclose his secret. Restaurateurs keep the recipes of their delicious dishes under their hats, with no patents needed. However, food producers prefer to receive patents on recipes of their yogurts, canned food, sausages, biscuits and especially beverages.
A diverse range of products are patented, but actually, the procedure is not that simple. Scientific theories and mathematical concepts are not considered inventions, as with ideas or devices which contradict public interests or morale. In this respect, a phrase from a famous Soviet movie comes to mind. ‘Think well, Comrade Timofeev, before going to see Moscow’s ancient sights without permission from the relevant agencies’.
Around 15 percent of all registered inventions are patented in Belarus — which is a great number. Other industrially developed countries enjoy similar statistics in this field.
Most unusual global inventions
• A patent was once issued for a so-called ‘ceremonial hand’. A plastic prosthetic was developed especially for people, politicians and directors etc, who needed to shake hands often. A bone version was made for important occasions.
• A special spoon was designed for bearded men. During a meal, special accessories moved the moustache aside to avoid it getting covered in food.
• A device was invented to receive kicks for amusement. Using this smart technology, a person can be kicked. The frequency of the strokes can be regulated by use of a hand drive. In line with the invention, the shoes, the parts that make contact, are made from a flexible material.
• A manual toothbrush makes it possible to clean teeth while counting each of them at the same time. A useful tool when you wish to calculate the total of all your teeth.
• Amazingly, a brain alarm exists. It is aimed at those who fall asleep in unsuitable places and at unsuitable times, but who wish to wake up quickly. To stay awake, a person needs to bite the thin end of a vibrating stick. If not, vibrations travel to the brain then and the person quickly wakes up. Really, this sounds more like a wonderful teeth and brain grinder!