The American patent system has long been criticized for being inefficient and for hindering innovation. But, for all its disadvantages, our patent process has, at the very least, created some hilarious would-be products.
Of course, not every patent becomes the next iPod or even the next Roomba vacuum cleaner. As The Economist recently put it:
"Innovations based on patented inventions or discoveries can take teams of researchers, engineers and marketing experts a decade or more, and tens of millions of dollars, to transfer to the marketplace. And for every bright idea that goes on to become a commercial winner, literally thousands fall by the wayside."
For now, sweeping patent reform doesn't seem to be imminent, which means we're likely to see more wacky and oddly entrepreneurial patent applications like the ones we've compiled below.
Featuring a motorized ice cream cone and something called a "doll urn," this list is certainly not exhaustive. Got a favorite patent or failed invention that you think combines just the right kind of can-do spirit and Rube Goldberg-caliber complexity? Check out our list and click "Participate" to submit your own pick.