Friday, January 22, 2010

Beer-Related Ideas That Make You Say “WTF?!?”

Anyone that has ever gone through the process of patenting an idea knows that applying for, fighting for, and finally being awarded a patent can be a drawn out process and expensive process (ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars). Therefore it always amuses me that with all the effort and expense, there are still people out there that try (and succeed) at patenting very strange and bizarre concepts.  I've come to nickname them as "WTF" patents.

So while doing some patent work for my dayjob, I came across a few beer-related patents that got me shaking my head.  I could almost envision a couple of college buddies sitting around a half-empty case of beer, thinking "this could work...its going make us rich!".  I gave me such befuddled amusement that, before I knew it, I had ditched my regular work to scratch around for more amusing beer patents.  The list below, presented in no particular order, holds some of the beauties that I was able to uncover.

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"Alcoholic beverages derived from animal extract, and methods for the production thereof"
United States Patent No.: 7,037,541 (issued: May 2, 2006)
Inventor: Kineo Okada

For those who don’t want to be restricted to just brewing with barley and other grains, the Ariake Japan Co. has patented the process for you – why not throw a little meat in there. Just add in some yeast and lactic bacteria and you’ve got a beverage that “has a distinctive flavor, is storage stable, and is nutritious.” And don’t feel your beverage has to be single-dimensional with just a single meat source.  The alcoholic beverage “may be made from various extracts of meat and/or bone, for example from beef, pork, mutton, chickens, ducks, turkey, etc.” So if you have a blender and a random animal, you’re in business (here kitty kitty…).

Ariake Japan Company - “The Fine Flavor of Nature(that's seriously their slogan)

"Timed drinking vessel"
United States Patent No.: 6,747,918 (issued: June 8, 2004)
Inventors: Hight et al

I’m trying to image the eureka moment that conceptualized this one. “A conventional drinking vessel holds a beverage, but gives no information to (the drinker’s) rate of consumption.” Never mind the clock on the wall, what a drinker really needs is an on-board timer to determine how fast they can empty their glass.  Whether to pace the enjoyment or to record the fastest chugging time, the Timed Drinking Mug is “a drinking vessel which automatically monitors the rate at which an individual consumes a beverage.  (It) would be welcomed by consumers of beverages.”  I'm not sure if "welcomed" is the right word.

"The Beerbrella"
United States Patent No.: 6,637,447 (issued: Oct 28, 2003)
Inventors: McMullin et al

Right in line with the Timed Drinking Vessel, the Beerbrella is an invention determined to improve your drinking experience. It “provides a small umbrella which may be removably attached to a beverage container in order to shade the beverage container from the direct rays of the sun.”  Not only does it protect your brew from those pesky UV rays, it “may also be used to prevent rain or other precipitation from contaminating a beverage.”  There's an infomercial in there somwhere ... or at least a Miller 'Tailgate Approved" commercial.

"Filled Beer Glass Shaped Condom"
United States Patent No.: D591,580 (issued: May 5, 2009)
Inventor: Brian Osterberg

I don’t have much to say about this one – the name and picture says it all. If your chick is such a beer lover that this turns her on…god bless you!

"Method and apparatus for making a drink hop along a bar or counter"
United States Patent No.: 5,678, 617 (issued: Oct 21, 1997)
Inventors: Kuyendal et al

Of all the above inventions, this one is the one that screams collegiate frat house boredom turned into a “WTF” invention. What does it do? It’s “a novelty device for … a bar whereby when a patron orders a specific drink ... (and the) drink then seems to hop from some remote spot on the bar and takes one or more leaps, ultimately landing in the patron’s glass.” Remember those jumping water fountains you used to see in malls or amusement parts as a kid? Well, this one is for beer.

What I get the biggest kick out of is the amount of detail that the inventors put into the patent. I mean, in the figure shown above, there are 88 independent components called out – someone actually spent considerable time flushing this out.  And there are 10 other figures in the patent, many of them equally as intricate. That's some dedication.  

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There are hundreds more of these head-scratchin' ideas floating around there – if you happen to bump into any other “WTF” beer-related ideas/patents, drop me a line.



“He was a wise man who invented beer”

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