Top 9 Christmas Inventions

At first glance, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may not seem like the most likely place to find some yuletide cheer. However, digging through their records reveals nine charming Christmas-related patents and applications that are certain to bring a smile even to Ebenezer Scrooge’s face.

1. Santa Claus Detector U.S. Patent No. 5,523,741

Parents who want to dial up the magic factor for little ones will love this idea. Essentially, it involves a Christmas stocking that is designed to be displayed on the mantle. Using the means of an “entity detector,” the stocking lights up when Santa is near. Contained within the stocking is a switch, power source and light source so that the arrival of Santa Claus can be announced via the light when activated. Your kids will be certain to scurry up to bed in no time.

2. Automatic Christmas Tree Fire Extinguisher U.S. Patent No. 2,522,020


Accidental fires are always a possibility at Christmas, especially when a real tree is brought into the house. This 1950 patent sought to address this problem by introducing a water-filled star or another ornament that could be placed at the top of a tree. If a fire was detected, the ornament broke open, spilling water on all sides of the tree.

3. Naughty or Nice Meter U.S. Patent Publication No. 2008/0299533

Have your kids been naughty or nice this year? With this meter, you’ll always know, and so will your kids. The meter is equipped with 12 questions that are used to grade the child’s behavior. Figuring out whether to give coal or presents has never been easier.

4. Crayfish Christmas Stocking U.S. Design Patent D290242

A design rather than an invention, this fishy Christmas stocking is the perfect gift for any angler on your list. Other people may find the crayfish-shaped stocking a little off-putting. The hat is a festive touch, however.

5. Smoke Detector Disguised as a Christmas Tree Ornament U.S. Patent No. 5,396,221

Another inventor tackled the problem of flammable Christmas trees in the 1990s. This one didn’t have water in it, but it was shaped like a star and designed to function as a smoke detector. At least it’s more festive looking than a conventional alarm.

6. Kit for Simulating a Visit by Santa Claus U.S. Patent Publication No. 20060116049

This one sounds like a lot of fun. It’s a kit that comes with all sorts of props that are intended to indicate a visit from St. Nicholas. Among the included items are a thank you card, Santa’s driver’s license, a scrap of fabric torn from Santa’s suit and a hoof with which to make reindeer prints in the yard.

7. Christmas Tree Watering Ornament U.S. Patent No. 7,757,435

If you’re constantly worried that you might forget to water your Christmas tree, then this is the solution for you. It’s a tree ornament with a water reservoir. When it senses the tree is low on water, it dispenses the necessary liquid.

8. Edible Gift-Wrap for Pets U.S. Patent Publication No. 2013/0149418

Give your beloved pet some much-needed mental and physical stimulation this Christmas season by wrapping up some treats in this edible gift wrap. When does the human version come out?

9. Semi-Artificial Christmas Tree U.S. Patent No. 2,186,351

This patent from the 1940s is for everyone who can’t decide between an artificial and a real Christmas tree. The invention consists of a metal pole into which real fir branches are affixed. It’s hard to imagine this one catching on.

From our family at the Law Offices of Jeff Williams, want to wish all of our friends, families and readers a very Happy Holiday.

Author: Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams is an experienced mechanical engineer and lawyer that consults closely with clients in a strait forward and clear manner. He brings a particular set of strengths and unique perspectives to the firm.

Jeff received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2005. He was an engineer for a number of years at a number of large corporations before pursuing his law degree. He graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan University School of Law) with a J.D. in 2010. By combining his education and prior work experience into the field of intellectual property law, Jeff has developed key skills to fully assist clients.

The End of Innovation? Inventor Protection Act


What is the Inventor Protection Act?

The proposed Inventor Protection Act, otherwise known as H.R. 6557, is sponsored by Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California. Ostensibly, it is designed to protect individual inventors and their rights to the innovations they create, and backers say that it will promote further innovation in the future.

Essentially, the Inventor Protection Act is aimed at counteracting portions of two decisions that were handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years. Both of these decisions are thought to have limited the legal remedies that patent owners can seek when they allege infringement. Moreover, they may limit some options that patent owners used to have when filing a patent infringement case. Specifically, the proposed bill mentions that using an injunction to prohibit others from using a patent’s technology was eliminated in the eBay vs. MercExchange case of 2006. The proposed legislation also mentions that filing patent infringement lawsuits in the patent owner’s jurisdiction was made virtually impossible thanks to the outcome of TC Heartland vs. Kraft Foods Group Brands in 2017.

What Would the Bill Do?

The proposed law is primarily aimed at inventors who are patent owners. Being able to use an injunction and file a lawsuit in their own jurisdiction would be of enormous benefit to these entrepreneurs.

The proposed law further takes aim at many other issues in the patent world. In simple terms, the bill is meant to protect the rights of small inventors. This is a reaction to the feeling that the patent world is one in which only the big players have a viable chance of succeeding. It is an idea that is not entirely unfounded with many multi-national corporations hoarding patents and suing for infringement at the drop of a hat. Individual inventors simply do not have the deep pockets and legal resources that are readily available to large companies. This means that when big business alleges infringement, most small inventors cannot fight.

Accordingly, the proposed law is supposed to protect the rights of inventors who also are patent owners. This means that the inventor has not assigned the rights to their patent over to a business entity, as is a common practice. The reality is that most patents are granted on inventions that employees create in the course of their employment. Usually, these rights are formally transferred to the employer by means of an assignment agreement. This makes the entity the owner of the patent and essentially places responsibility for dealing with any infringement accusations or other matters that may arise on the company.

The Concerns

It is easy to visualize numerous problems that may arise if the law passes as it now exists. Extending protections and options to small inventors is a good idea, but this particular law doesn’t seem to address the problem adequately. For instance, it does not take into account that most patents have more than one inventor. If one inventor falls out with the others, what becomes of the patent rights under the new law? One dissenting inventor can make it impossible to license or enforce an inventor-owned patent.

Moreover, if inventors instead of employers own patents, what happens to those rights when the employee seeks a job elsewhere? It may be that the inventor’s former co-workers will continue to build on the technology, which may lead to a continuation-in-part patent application. If one of the prior inventors no longer is employed at the same company, how is patent ownership divided? The answers to these questions may become increasingly complicated if this new law passes as written.

Innovation is important to America’s future, but the proposed legislation does not necessarily solve as many problems as it purports to do. Making it possible for inventors to file infringement lawsuits in their own jurisdiction certainly makes sense, but it is not necessarily a good idea for all of these benefits to only apply to patents that are owned by inventors. This is because many patents are assigned to small companies and startups that also do not have deep pockets and legal teams on retainer. Unless this law can be extended to protect more innovators than just independent inventors, it is unlikely to have the effect for which legislators are hoping.

If you need assistance with any patents please request a free consultation with the Law Offices of Jeff Williams PLLC.
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Author: Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams is an experienced mechanical engineer and lawyer that consults closely with clients in a strait forward and clear manner. He brings a particular set of strengths and unique perspectives to the firm.

Jeff received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2005. He was an engineer for a number of years at a number of large corporations before pursuing his law degree. He graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law (formerly Texas Wesleyan University School of Law) with a J.D. in 2010. By combining his education and prior work experience into the field of intellectual property law, Jeff has developed key skills to fully assist clients.

Innovations that May Shape the Future

December 18, 2015

Surival Breeds Innovation

As Plato once opined, necessity is the mother of invention. New generations arise, and each one is confronted with a unique set of challenges. Whether they are faced with war, drought, famine or other difficulties, they strive to overcome these obstacles. While finding ways to survive, humans have also sought ways to make life better, easier and more efficient. It is in meeting these necessities that some of mankind’s greatest innovations have seen their genesis.

That spirit of invention continues to thrive today. Could anyone have imagined the prevalence or even the existence of smartphone technology a generation ago? Technological innovation moves quickly. What was new just a year or two before is obsolete now. We have become a people accustomed to newer, better and quicker everything, and the inventions just keep coming.

1. Google Smartwatch

One of the most interesting and potentially life-changing inventions that is now in development is a Google smartwatch that may help diabetics keep a better handle on blood sugar levels without using a needle. To use the device, a person places a detachable component of the watch over their finger. A microparticle is shot to the skin’s surface, neatly and painlessly taking a blood sample. The component is then reattached to the watch where it can precisely determine the user’s blood glucose levels. Google filed a patent application for this innovation. However, they decline to say whether or not the device will soon be on the market. If it should come to fruition, it’s clear that the apparatus would greatly improve the quality of life of the millions of people around the world who suffer from diabetes.

2. Engineered Farming

Another fascinating innovation comes from a network of university researchers from America, the U.K. and Australia. They are working to develop genetic tools that would enable the world’s farmers to boost crop yields to incredible levels. Scientists involved envision a world in which food shortages are a thing of the past thanks to the specialized engineering of plants that allows them to use sunlight far more efficiently. Dubbed C4 photosynthesis by researchers, the invention draws on the more efficient growth rates of sugarcane and corn, re-engineering them to make new varieties of rice and wheat that could potentially feed the world. With hunger a thing of the past, who knows what kinds of new inventions would be enabled?

3. Nanobots

Other researchers visualize a future in which nanobots can be deployed into the bloodstream in order to combat disease. Such nanobots might be used to deliver life-saving chemotherapy with only a fraction of the side effects or to create blood clots that might help with more efficient wound healing. Though still in the early stages, it’s easy to imagine how nanobots might revolutionize human health and longevity.

4. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been on the horizon for some time, but technology is finally catching up to the imagination of science fiction writers. Researchers are closer than ever to cracking the code that will enable them to “solve intelligence,” making it possible to create from silicon a consciousness that successfully mimics human sensibilities.

Each of these innovative ideas needs intellectual property protection in order to thrive. If you have inventions that are in development, then you need to protect them. Contact Texas patent attorney Jeff Williams to learn about how you can protect your ideas and get your free consultation.