Best Patent Ever

I have at times found myself reading patents for various reasons. In the last 24 hours I’ve come across the best patent ever. I’m so glad I blog so I can share this with you guys.

US Patent 5443036A is a remarkably brilliant bit of documentation. It’s short and easy for a layman to read (a requirement for a good patent in my mind). What’s even more interesting is that you’ve probably violated this patent, but the patent holders never bothered to sue. Hence, another requirement of a good patent is the lack of destructive enforcement. The owners clearly aren’t patent trolls.

The title of the patent is officially “Method of exercising a cat.” Many of us have had experiences where it felt like we were herding cats, but this one deals with the proper method of exercising the feline breeds.

The abstract reads:

A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.

While the patent was originally filed in 1991 there seems to be some issue at the moment with its licensing fee. So I don’t believe it’s wise to create your own devices to do this yet as it may still be in violation of the law.

Variations on this idea include a Pet Entertainment Device which was awarded a patent in 2006, and a Light Projecting Pet Toy awarded a patent in 2009. These later devices are significantly more complex. Sometimes it’s nice to just keep it simple like original Method of Exercising a Cat.

Seriously, Wingdings?

My supportive wife recommended that this FontFriday be dedicated to Wingdings.

Seriously? I thought. Is that even a font?

She countered, Well, it’s been on my font list since as long as I can remember.

She’s right. It has been around a while and it’s also part of the list of items labeled as fonts that appear from the drop down menu of Microsoft Office applications. But, is it a font?

It’s true you could communicate using the symbols of Wingdings. People are using emoji to replace whole sentences. In fact, my parents speak better emoji than I do. Of course emoji isn’t the first pictorial method of communicating. Neither is Wingdings. Pictorial communication goes back as far as mankind.

Wingdings is a dingbat font. Which is a term used for a printer’s ornament. Thus Wingdings is merely a collection of printer’s ornaments. It’s not a bad collection for the 1990s when it was originally created though (again) I would venture to believe that emojis are more popular.

What’s neat about Wingdings is it isn’t just an item in your font list. It’s also a patent.

Yes, Wingdings is a patent.

USD341848S is a patent that shows a printout of each character of the font. The patent lists this font’s birth year as 1991. So my wife saying that it’s been there as long as she can remember is correct, but seriously, Wingdings?

Photo by Alexander Dummer on