Kemnetz: Homework Assignment 2

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Homework Assignment 2:

Description of Patents and Their Benefits

  • My Selected Patent:
    • Toothbrush holder and dryer system
    • Patent Number: 4845859
    • Date of Patent: July 11, 1989
    • Description: Toothbrush drying device, prevents a wet toothbrush sitting in a stationary position in between uses from growing more bacteria. Prevent toothbrush from picking up dirt and dust particles (as well as other particles in the air). Cylindrical toothbrush cup with slots for inserting and holding the toothbrush upright. Light bulb in the base of the container emits heat. Slots in the base cover of the toothbrush holder allow the heated air to circulate upwards and pass by the toothbrush bristles.
    • Benefits: Dries toothbrush, easily accessible toothbrush, user does not have to touch light source (burn yourself), enclosed toothbrush encasing, lower transparent portion serves as a night light, toothbrush is stored upright

When looking at the cited patents listed in my patent, they either described toothbrush sanitizing, or sanitizing other household bathroom items (such as nail clippers). I chose the two patents listed below for this assignment since they seemed to closest resemble/relate to the patent I have chosen.

  • Cited Patent #1:
    • Toothbrush Drying Device
    • Patent Number: 3820251
    • Date of Patent: June 28, 1974
    • Description: Toothbrush drying device, has a heater in the housing to heat the air. Has an adjustable control device coupled to the heater to control duration of heating. A source of UV light in proximity with the toothbrush destroys bacteria on the bristles.
    • Benefits: Removable cover, adjustable control for heating duration, UV light source destroys bacterial

  • Cited Patent #2:
    • Room Deodorizer with Cup and Toothbrush Sterilizing Means
    • Patent Number: 3114038
    • Date of Patent: Dec. 10, 1963
    • Description: Uses sterilizing and deodorizing source electrically actuated lamps or bulbs that emit electromagnetic waves of a germicidal frequency, and generates a gas capable of deodorizing air diffuser
    • Benefits: Sterilizes toothbrushes, kid-friendly, easily accessible toothbrushes, toothbrush supports are easily cleaned, serves as a night-light, minimal maintenance needed

Discussion of Non-Obviousness, My Patent vs. Patent #1

These two patents claim an invention that has nearly the same purpose. My chosen patent dries a toothbrush by circulating heated air through an enclosed container via a fan in the base. The heating source is a light bulb in the base of the container. The other patent (“patent #1”) claims to dry a toothbrush via heated air in the housing. Two of the main differences between my patent and patent #1 are: 1) patent #1 has a UV light that destroys bacteria on the bristles of the brush, and 2) patent #1 has an adjustable control to set the duration of heating.

In my view, patent #1 achieves every purpose and function of my patent, as well as further purposes and functions. My patent uses only a regular household light bulb, whereas patent #1 uses UV light to help destroy bacteria. It seems as if the inventor of my patented item has taken past inventions of toothbrush heaters, and if anything simplified them in a very obvious manner. I do not think this invention would have been patentable under Hotchkiss or A&P. This invention does not seem to satisfy the requirement of non-obviousness, since it seems to have made very simple and obvious changes (swapping a regular light bulb for a UV light bulb), and simplifications to pre-existing and patented devices. It appears to me that, as far as the Hotchkiss ruling, my chosen patent is more of the work of a "skilled mechanic" than a large step in logic towards an invention that many had tried to make, and none had been able to achieve. I have uncertainty as to how this invention of the patent I chose even achieved a legal patent, since to me, it does not satisfy the non-obvious requirement, nor does the patent I chose achieve the new and useful requirement in my opinion.

Discussion of Non-Obviousness, My Patent vs. Patent #2

These two patents are slightly less similar than my patent and patent #1. My patent is a toothbrush holder and dryer system. Patent #2 serves many more purposes, as well as focuses on sterilizing a toothbrush vs. just drying the toothbrush. Both serve as a night light, both have easily accessible toothbrushes, and both house the light bulb in such a way that the user cannot easily burn themselves on it when reaching for their toothbrush.

Patent #2 sterilizes and deodorizes a toothbrush, as well as a cup. It also generates a gas that is capable of deodorizing air in the bathroom. The method of sterilizing is by electrically actuated lamps that emit electromagnetic waves of germicidal frequency. This method strikes me as similar to the UV light used in Patent #1, but once again, different from my patent’s method of a regular light bulb. If anything, Patent #2 seems more useful since it claims to sterilize your toothbrush (and drinking cup), whereas my patent only claims to dry your toothbrush and make it less susceptible to bacterial growth and dust/dirt accumulation.

In my view, these patents are different enough to satisfy the non-obvious requirement in the constitution, as well as the way Hotchkiss or A&P would have ruled. They offer different solutions to dealing with bacterial growth on toothbrushes in your bathroom. As I mentioned above, patent #2 also offers many other unique attributes that set these two patents apart. It appears to me that, as stated in the patent #1 vs. my chosen patent section above, the invention claimed by my chosen patent is more of a step backwards, rather than a leap of ingenuity, as compared to patent #2. In conclusion, I feel that I still do not understand why/how the patent I chose achieved a patent, since I see it as a step backwards. However, I do feel that these patents were different enough that they would have satisfied the uniqueness aspects of patent law.