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http://www.google.com/patents/US6368227

Is this a joke? What is the applicability of such a patent? But even more, how can you have the nerve to say that no one else thought about pulling sideways on the chains of a swing to make it move from side to side? People in the stone age probably did that.

The first claim is:

  1. A method of swinging on a swing, the method comprising the steps of:

    • a) suspending a seat for supporting a user between only two chains that are hung from a tree branch;

    • b) positioning a user on the seat so that the user is facing a direction perpendicular to the tree branch;

    • c) having the user pull alternately on one chain to induce movement of the user and the swing toward one side, and then on the other chain to induce movement of the user and the swing toward the other side; and

    • d) repeating step c) to create side-to-side swinging motion, relative to the user, that is parallel to the tree branch.

enter image description here

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3 Answers 3

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From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Patent_and_Trademark_Office) U.S. Patent 6,368,227, "Method of swinging on a swing", issued April 9, 2002 was granted to a seven-year-old boy, whose father, a patent attorney, wanted to demonstrate how the patent system worked to his son (aged 5 at the time of the application). The PTO initially rejected it due to prior art, but eventually issued the patent. However, all claims of the patent were subsequently canceled by the PTO upon reexamination.

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I see, I also wanted to ask about this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_exercising_a_cat but I guess it's not that crazy now –  hvm2hvm Oct 10 '13 at 15:52
    
LOL... This is so very typical. Patent lawyers will defend this rubbish. It is laughable. –  Michael Hannigan Oct 10 '13 at 23:17

While this may have been a ridiculous patent, an examiner's rejection can't be "people in the Stone Age probably did that" or "seems obvious to me". Actual references need to be found and cited. Otherwise obviousness is just opinion and very subject to hindsight bias.

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Well that was just my comment on it, I never said it should have been the rejection's contents. –  hvm2hvm Oct 10 '13 at 16:04
    
Also, as a side discussion, what happens if patent trolls start submitting patents for a lot of mundane activities like this one? Would the examiners need to find a documented prior-art for all of them? It's not a really difficult task but it just wastes a lot of time with processing troll patents. –  hvm2hvm Oct 10 '13 at 16:05
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Trolls (to use the pejorative) do not generally file patents. They buy patents, often from failed startups or has-been failed giants. Studies, including a recent one from the GAO show that, on average, patents asserted by Patent Assertion Entities are of average quality. That study concluded that software patents were problematic whether asserted by an NPE or a real company. And I'm sure examiners get applications that seem like a waste of time, –  George White Oct 10 '13 at 19:57
    
This section of US code was affected by the America Invents Act (AIA), and now reads as follows: A person shall be entitled to a patent unless — (1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; or... Cited from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_35_of_the_United_States_Code –  Daniel Sep 4 at 16:12

To answer your first question, whether this is a joke or not, see the last paragraph, which states:

Lastly, it should be noted that because pulling alternately on one chain and then the other resembles in some measure the movements one would use to swing from vines in a dense jungle forest, the swinging method of the present invention may be referred to by the present inventor and his sister as “Tarzan” swinging. The user may even choose to produce a Tarzan-type yell while swinging in the manner described, which more accurately replicates swinging on vines in a dense jungle forest. Actual jungle forestry is not required.

I guess that pretty much sums it up.

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