Tom Griffin develops new products for Delphion, a top Web-based patent database company that is a spin-off from IBM. Every few weeks, though, he takes a little time off to don another hat as the curator of the Gallery of Obscure Patents, one of the world's leading pantheons of outlandish intellectual property.
Griffin's second job requires him to sort through the more than 100 nominations every month for unusual patents. Users of the Delphion database can nominate any U.S. or foreign patent to become an exhibit in the gallery, a section of the company's Web site (www.delphion.com/gallery). So Griffin--aided by the opinions of other Delphion staffers--has had a hand in immortalizing such testaments to human ingenuity as the human slingshot, the toe puppet, the braille slot machine, the jet-powered surfboard, the pneumatic shoe-lacing apparatus and a personal enclosure for protection from killer bees, to name but a few.
This article was originally published with the title Patently Bizarre.