Patents for My Ass

2006-06-23 20:04 - Rants

So, the other day, I used the last roll of toilet paper in the bunch that had been sitting under my bathroom sink. As I was disposing of the wrapper, I noticed that there was an anouncement of patents protecting this product printed on the back. Not terribly unusual, in the grand scheme of things. Plenty of products let you know that they're protected by patents.

The oddity though, at least in my mind, was that my Charmin toilet paper was not just "Made under one or more U.S. Patents" but that it was made under twenty six separate patents! It's just toilet paper, what are all those patents for?!

  1. 5114771 Perforator blade for paper products and products made therefrom
  2. 5240562 Paper products containing a chemical softening composition
  3. 5274930 Limiting orifice drying of cellulosic fibrous structures, apparatus therefor, and cellulosic fibrous structures produced thereby
  4. 5328565 Tissue paper having large scale, aesthetically discernible patterns
  5. 5581906 Multiple zone limiting orifice drying of cellulosic fibrous structures apparatus therefor, and cellulosic fibrous structures produced thereby
  6. 5584126 Multiple zone limiting orifice drying of cellulosic fibrous structures, apparatus therefor, and cellulosic fibrous structures produced thereby
  7. 5584128 Multiple zone limiting orifice drying of cellulosic fibrous structures, apparatus therefor, and cellulosic fibrous structures produced thereby
  8. 5671897 Core for core wound paper products having preferred seam construction
  9. 5679222 Paper having improved pinhole characteristics and papermaking belt for making the same
  10. 5716692 Lotioned tissue paper
  11. 5728268 High density tissue and process of making
  12. 5846380 Creped tissue paper exhibiting unique combination of physical attributes
  13. 5855738 High density tissue and process of making
  14. 5865396 Core for core wound paper products having preferred seam construction
  15. 5865950 Process for creping tissue paper
  16. 5942085 Process for producing creped paper products
  17. 5944954 Process for creping tissue paper
  18. 5980691 Smooth through air dried tissue and process of making
  19. 6036139 Differential ply core for core wound paper products
  20. 6048938 Process for producing creped paper products and creping aid for use therewith
  21. 6106670 High density tissue and process of making
  22. 6126784 Process for applying chemical papermaking additives to web substrate
  23. 6149769 Soft tissue having temporary wet strength
  24. 6162329 Soft tissue paper having a softening composition containing an electrolyte deposited thereon
  25. 6187138 Method for creping paper
  26. 6207734 Creping adhesive for creping tissue paper

I barely know where to start...

Okay, no. That's not a lazy copy-paste error. Numbers 5, 6, and 7 are all for the same thing. The exact same thing. From 5 to 6, they corrected their grammar in the abstract, putting the word 'A' on the front. From 6 to 7, they spelled "Cincinnatti" properly. And minor changes here or there, but basically the same patent 3 times, yes.

Then look at #10: Lotioned Tissue Paper. Does putting lotion on tissue paper really require a patent? And is it really so complex that the document has to reference thirty nine other patents to make its point? And let's not forget the level of detail involved. In discussing lotioned tissue paper, the authors felt it important to include this paragraph:

Conventional tissue products are absorbent and with each successive wipe the fecal matter becomes increasingly dehydrated, causing it to adhere more tenaciously to the perianal skin and hair and making its removal difficult in the extreme. Pressing the tissue forcefully against the perianal skin will remove more of the fecal matter but is intensely painful for people suffering from anal disorders and can excoriate even normal perianal skin, potentially causing irritation, inflammation, pain, bleeding, and infection.

What a wonderful mental image, no? Okay, I just threw that bit in for shock value, I admit it.

And what about toilet paper tubes?! We get two separate patents just for making paper tubes, numbers 8 and 14. Again, they're virtually the identical patent, though filed months apart. I don't know what to say. It just seems like patenting toilet paper tubes is silly. They go into some detail about how to arrange the layers but, how inventive is that really? Patent worthy?

More or less the same goes for #4. So they were smart enough to get the pattern built in as part of the drying process, good for them. Again, that doesn't feel patent worthy. They say right in there that printing with ink is expensive, which is obvious, and from there the rest follows rather naturally.

Now, how about this "creping" thing? They dedicate seven separate patents to "creping paper". I had to look to find the definition "a lightly crinkled textured fabric." This seems like the natural result of #4. Make it look pretty by embossing instead of printing, yeah, great. That part's done. What are these seven patents for? A whole bunch of trivial variations on slightly different methods to acheive the same effect, apparently.

I could go on, but I think that's enough. It's just a long winded way to say "Patents are just so pathetic!" Even outside of the technical arena. Patents for my ass!

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