Don’t we all love pets? I have to admit that I am biased. My interest in IP related pet products arose from my very own puppy, Java. I, like most pet owners, have a lot of toys for Java. And, like most pet owners, I always buy more.
Initially I did not think about IP connections for Java’s toys. The more IP courses I’ve had at Loyola, the more I started thinking about patented pet products. I looked at my puppy’s toys, and I thought that some of them were complex enough to be patented.
Well, I did some investigating and confirmed that my hunch was correct. My search started by looking up some of Java’s toys and seeing whether they were patented. I found out that Kong Company had multiple patented dog toys. Then, I searched on Google Patents for patented pet products and came across a variety of patent applications and actual patents related to pet products. It turns out many pet toys are actually patented like a stick shaped chew toy which a puppy can fetch or chew.
Patents: A brief overview
First, what is a patent? And what does it do? A patent is a legal document that confers an exclusive right to its owner to prevent others from making, using, selling, distributing, or importing the owner’s invention.
But, how do you get a patent? In order to obtain a patent, the inventor has to submit a patent application. Then, the inventor has to file it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to get rights in the United States – if the USPTO agrees that the application meets the standards.
There are four criteria that an invention needs to meet to be patentable. The invention has to fall under patentable subject matter (includes products and processes but not abstract ideas, laws of nature, or natural phenomena), and it has to meet three other requirements. Specifically, it has to be novel, useful and non-obvious.
Now moving on to the fun part, here are some patented pet products!
Extreme Goodie Bone
Kong Company produces a lot of pet-related products. Java has several toys produced by this company. What I did not know before I started to investigate was that a lot of the Kong products are actually patented. Kong Company has multiple patents for pet toys and products.
As I was looking at the Kong website, I came across their Extreme Goodie Bone. Reading through the description, I noticed that the Goodie Gripper holes were actually patented. As described in the patent for a pet chew with dispensable good product, “Goodie Grippers” are starshaped receptacles where small dog biscuits can be inserted. As a dog mom, I know how important those grippers are! The toy is basically a bone which a puppy can play with, and the dog is even more entertained by getting a treat as a reward. They are great with keeping dogs entertained by playing. At the same time, puppies are very determined to find the little treats.
Convertible bone and ball
As I was searching for dog toy patents, I found another fun patented pet product that is also a bone. This one is a toy which can be converted between a bone shape and a ball shape. The patented invention is described as a chew toy which can be selectively converted between a ball configuration and a bone configuration. This is achieved by having two invertible structures that are found at the opposite ends of an elongated body. Just like the Extreme Goodie Bone, treats can be stored into the toy when it is in the ball shape to make it more interesting to a dog. Java must try this one, so I will have to look for it in stores!
Tennis ball with sound features
Another similar toy is a tennis ball with sound features. Tennis balls are Java’s favorite! What makes a tennis ball even better for a puppy? Sound features.
Kong sells a toy called SqueakAir Ball which looks like a tennis ball but has the great benefit of squeaky sounds. The toy is patented. The patent describes the toy as a pet toy which looks like a tennis ball but has a noise making element. The sound is created when the outer shell of the ball is deflected or compressed. This one is my personal favorite because it puts a smile on my puppy’s face!
As all dog owners can probably agree, the squeaky toy could not be missing from this list. Puppies love toys which make sounds. There is actually a patent for a pet toy that makes noise which is activated by expansion and contraction of the toy. Force needs to be applied to the toy for this to happen. The toy also includes an elastomeric bladder attached to an elastic base. For those who might not know (I did not either), elastomeric is just another word to describe rubber like properties, such as the ability of a material to regain its original shape after the application of force.
This is another patent assigned to Kong Company. This patent is general and is not linked to a specific product; it describes how the toy functions in great detail. Patents many times do not have specific products linked to them since there might be different ones which would be covered under the patent. The main gist of how the toy functions is that force must be applied for the toy to squeak. One example of this patented invention is the Barnyard Knots Cow.
Chewy bones are also patented!
Last but not least, chewy bones are another potentially patented product. Before I started investigating pet patents, I never thought that a chew bone could be patented. I thought of bones more as food, so it made sense to me that they would not be patented. I always saw food as something that naturally occurs in nature. Then, when I thought more about it, it makes sense that foods that are modified by humans can be patented.
There is in fact a patent application for a product by Himalayan Corp which is a pet chew. The product is called a Himalayan Dog Chew. The treat is supposed to be cheese flavored. The patent application by Himalayan Corp is broader and includes pet chew articles and the methods needed to manufacture them. The patent application describes the chews as products that could be comprised of pieces of dry animal tissue or of hardened cheese. It also goes into more detail on how the chews are manufactured. I might have to buy this for Java.
As you can probably tell from the post, there are multiple pet toys and products that are patented. I really enjoyed writing this, but Java will love this even more. Now, he will have to try all of these new products. For those who love pets and IP, here is a longer list of patented products. I found the list by choosing the specific category of “toy specifically adapted for animals” from one of the other patents that I mentioned above. There are over 10,000 results! Our furry friends can definitely be spoiled.
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023