April Fools - pranks and patents

03 April 2018

Bored of pulling the same old pranks over and over again? Just going through the motions with whoopee cushions and handshake buzzers? Then pay attention – here are some prank-related items so good people tried to patent them.

First up is a “joke beer”. Granted in 1938, US2140327 relates to a container that looks a like a beer. In fact, it is “so accurate in its imitation that it cannot easily be picked out among a number of real containers of beer”, the idea being that when the joke beer is included in a group of real beers, “one of the guests will obviously pick up the ‘joke beer’ and attempt to drink it; whereupon he will be embarrassed”.

Joke Beer

Everyone loves a cup of tea, so you should be able to find a victim for this next one - GB2447895 (“Novelty or Joke Tea Bag”). This withdrawn application relates to a tea bag filled with some gelling agent. When your unfortunate victim pours water over it, expecting a brew, the gelling agent swells up and forms a gel, “thus playing a joke on the ‘victim’”.

Here’s another drink-related one. DE3417344 (“Edible joke article in the form of small repellent animals”), filed in 1986 and later withdrawn, relates to an artificial animal that you put in someone’s drink. The results are spectacular – it “initially produces revulsion in persons intending to eat or drink”, but then it “produces merriment” once they realise it’s not only fake but also edible (and “especially pleasant-tasting”).

The setup for this next one sounds a little more complicated, but the author of this application seems to consider the payoff worth it. US5110316 (“Practical joke device”) relates to a party horn/blower that, when air is blown into it, not only emits a “kazoo-like sound” but also inflates at the end to display a message. But here’s the best bit: It can display information to a first person behind the user about a second person facing the user! And there’s more - the second person may be provided with information of a different nature to that presented to the first person yet believe he is being provided with the same information. “Clearly, such a facility presents a greater facility for a variety of different practical jokes”. Clearly…

Joke 1Want something with a little more danger? How about US1265379 (“Surprise or Joke Toy”)? Granted in 1918, this patent relates to a device which resembles an envelope (“though [it is] not intended for sending through the mails in violation of the postal laws”) that explodes when opened to “surprise and startle the person attempting to open the envelope”. The old ones are usually the best. 

CA487356, granted in 1952, relates to a motion picture viewing toy – or does it? In one embodiment, “a fixed picture only is viewable instead of the expected motion picture” (ha-ha!). In another embodiment, “a motion picture is actually seen, prior to the occurrence of water discharge for causing momentary consternation to the one given the squirt of water, for thus affording amusement to all attending the incident”

Joke 3

Finally, we have utility model DE202006016710, titled “Artificial vomit to act as a joke article has an appearance and smell to give an impression that a stomach's contents have been brought up” (this one speaks for itself). 

So there you have it. Seven new prank ideas. But this has just been a taster - next time you find yourself reaching for that whoopee cushion, why not have a look on the patents register instead?

Will Dearn

Will Dearn

Trainee Patent Attorney

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