A Patent On A Stick, Literally

U.S. patent 6,360,693 always reminds me there is always some uncertainty in the law of what’s patentable. I have to hand it to the patent attorney that handled this patent application. Claim 1 of this patent claims (in fancier words of course) a floating animal toy having a main shaft and a minor shaft coming off the main shaft at an angle. That’s it!

The actual text is:

An animal toy, comprising: (a) a solid main section having a diameter and a longitudinal length and extending a predetermined distance along said longitudinal length; and (b) at least one protrusion attached at one end thereof said main section and extending a predetermined distance therefrom and wherein said at least one protrusion includes a second longitudinal axis that is not in parallel alignment with a first longitudinal axis of said solid main section; and wherein said animal toy is adapted to float on the water.

While this patent claim could be invalidated in a court, having an issued patent nonetheless can be quite annoying to one’s competitors in the animal toy business. As a matter of patent prosecution strategy, this is why I may sometimes draft at least one claim that I think might be too broad so as to encompass the prior art. I may be wrong, and the client may be entitled to broader protection that I thought.

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