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Festive Patents: The Most Wonderful Time of Year Edition

Posted by Isabel Fox | Dec 20, 2022 | 0 Comments

The year 2022 may be coming to an end, but that also means the beginning of the Winter season, celebrating many annual holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and welcoming the New Year. People eagerly wait for this time of the year because these holidays present opportunities for families to gather to spend quality time, eat good food, play games, and exchange gifts. The end-of-year celebrations are not limited to religious and cultural holidays but continue with welcoming a New Year with a grand celebration. One ritual most of us have watched or heard of is New York's Time Square ball drop. The first drop was in 1907 and has become a tradition since.

We look forward to these celebrations every year, but did you know that intellectual property (IP) also plays a significant role in celebrating these holidays? These holidays have been celebrated for hundreds of years, but as time passes, there are new patented inventions related to these celebrations, some of which we will discuss here. Enjoy these festive patents as you get in the mood to celebrate any of these holidays in the next few weeks.

1. Santa Claus Detector (U.S. Patent No. 5,523,741): First up is a fun Christmas invention patented in 1996 by inventor Thomas Cane. Many of us stayed up and tried to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus at some point in our childhood. This patented invention includes a stocking configured to illuminate upon the arrival of Santa Claus.

2. Active Hanukkah Candelabrum (U.S. Patent No. 6,491,516): Lighting candles is one of the most visible aspects of celebrating Hannukah. This candelabrum, patented in 2002 by inventors Guy Tal and Ran Tal, is an interactive device supplying entertaining audible and/or visual output in response to various occurrences, such as the spinning of a dreidel and the lighting of a candle.

3. Snowball Maker (U.S. Patent No. 4,859,167): Though not specific to any holiday, this snowball maker, patented in 1989 by Ralph and Judy Maerz, may come in handy this time of year. Comprised of two half-spheres mounted on handles, this device scoops up just the right amount of snow and allows users to quickly form a pile of evenly sized and shaped snowballs.

4. Illuminated Dreidel (U.S. Patent No. 7,909,674): This dreidel, patented by Raphael Goozner in 2011, enhances Hanukkah festivities by illuminating each side of the dreidel in turn. Each side of the dreidel may include a different Hebrew letter and a different color light configured to illuminate if that side is facing up when the dreidel stops spinning.

5. Raised Tray with Moulded Canal (U.S. Patent No. 8,403,722): For many people, this time of year wouldn't be complete without decorating a gingerbread house. However, this tradition has some common pitfalls, as it can be challenging to keep the walls upright while building the structure. Luckily, inventor John Madonia came up with a solution to this problem with his invention, patented in 2013, consisting of a tray with indentations (“moulded canal”) to hold the walls of a gingerbread house in place without the need for construction-grade frosting (or straight-up glue).

6. Menorah (U.S. Patent No. D587,824): Our next festive patent is the first design patent of the group, invented by Robert Ballarini and patented in 2009. This patent protects the ornamental design for the menorah shown here.

7. Kwanzaa Unity Tree: (U.S. Patent No. D441,688): Charles Clarke was issued a design patent in 2001 for his design of a Kwanzaa Unity Tree. As shown, the tree is topped with the seven traditional candles of Kwanzaa and includes a base depicting the phrase “Kwanzaa Unity Tree.”

8. Suspended Christmas Tree (U.S. Patent No. 6,350,499): Richard Babcock invented and patented this artificial collapsible Christmas tree in 2002. The tree is configured to be suspended in the air for display, such as by hanging from a base and support unit, as shown in the accompanying image.

9. Electric Kwanzaa Lighting Unit (U.S. Patent No. D435,674): Inventor Jessie Burks patented his design for an Electric Kwanzaa Lighting Unit in 2000 (coincidentally, this patent issued on December 26 – the first day of Kwanzaa). The design includes seven light pillars supported by a base unit.

10. The Synchronized Confetti Sprayer and Descending Illuminated Ball (U.S. Patent No. 6,260,989): This “illuminated celebratory device” was patented in 2001 by inventor Joseph Ingraselino and includes a ball configured to slide down a pole with an added feature of a synchronized confetti blower mounted on top of the pole. As the ball descends and reaches the bottom of the pole, the LEDs indicate the appropriate time, and all celebratory features of the device activate as confetti is released. With this addition, it looks like the inventor wanted to maximize the fun on New Year's Eve.

How Gallium Law Can Help

The above list is intended to be entertaining and illustrate that all sorts of inventions may be patentable. If you have an idea that you think may be eligible for patent, trademark, or copyright protection, please fill out this Contact Form or call us at 651-256-9480 to schedule a meeting.

*The information provided in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. This article is meant for informational purposes only and is intended as a starting point in your search for answers to your legal questions. 

About the Author

Isabel Fox

Isabel Fox is a registered patent agent and has been with Gallium Law since 2018. Her practice largely revolves around utility and design patent prosecution; including conducting patent landscape searches, drafting patent applications, and responding to Office Actions issued by the USPTO...


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