Fall is here which means stores and front stoops are full of all things pumpkin! Taking IP this Fall has made me realize that many great fall items may have some kind of intellectual property (IP) protection. That’s been one of my favorite parts of learning more about IP, the realization that it truly impacts all areas of our lives. To help prove my point I rounded up some of the most interesting pumpkin related patents I could find.
Let’s start with the legal benefit of a patent. When a patent owner obtains a patent, it gives them the right to exclude other people from making or using the patented device or process for a term of close to 20 years. This can definitely provide a competitive advantage.
So, what can be patented? The realm of what can be patented is fairly broad. But there are rules. There are certain things that can never be patented. So, what’s barred? Off limits are abstract ideas, laws of nature, and naturally occurring phenomenon. For example, a pumpkin as found in the wild cannot be patented because it is naturally occurring. Otherwise, most things can be patented as long as they meet other criteria. Those other criteria are that the invention is novel, useful, and nonobvious.
So, each invention in this blog is/was at one point novel, useful, and nonobvious and the inventor was able to stop – or, in some cases, still can stop anyone else in the U.S. from making and selling an identical item for more than a decade.
Unsurprisingly, many of the patents involving pumpkins are different kinds of décor or tools for carving pumpkins.
Our first pumpkin patent shows just how simple a patentable invention can be. This metal pumpkin stand will elevate your pumpkin, both literally and figuratively by giving your jack-o-lantern the appearance of spider legs. Spooky!
Our next patented pumpkin decoration is not only adorable, but practical! These nesting pumpkins fit inside one another for easy storage when spooky season is out of season. An easy way to step up your Halloween spirit without sacrificing valuable storage space.
Have you ever found the perfect pumpkin in the pumpkin patch only to realize it doesn’t have the picture-perfect stem you envisioned? No? Me neither.
But if you ever were to encounter this problem, the next patent has got you covered. An artificial pumpkin stem that you can attach to any pumpkin to make your Instagramable jack-o-lantern dreams come true!
Our final decoration is perfect for those who are going for a fancier fall vibe. A pumpkin, but make it fashion, if you will. This illuminated sparkling pumpkin will take your décor game to the next level!
More Than a Pretty Shape
While a lot of pumpkin patents centered on décor, other inventors put pumpkins to work. These next patents highlight a few innovative and scientific uses of pumpkins.
The following patent involves a process of taking extracts from pumpkins or squash and using them in what the patent refers to as “personal care compositions.” Sound fancy? These are actually moisturizers, body washes, and shampoos. The patent purports replacing chemicals with extracts from pumpkins will achieve the same results and be healthier for people in the long run.
While plants that are naturally occurring cannot be patented, a genetically modified plant can be. This goes back to the idea that things that occur in nature cannot be patented. However, the Supreme Court in Mayo v. Prometheus has held that adding an inventive concept to naturally occurring phenomena can make it patentable. Therefore, genetically modified organisms can typically be patented. That is exactly what is happening in patent number 8558069. The pumpkins patented here were modified to be mildew resistant. This helps the pumpkins to grow healthier which means they will look better if/when they’re used for decoration.
Everyone Loves Accessories!
Last, but not least, we have some fabulous pumpkin accessories.
This pumpkin travel bag is comprised of different wedges that come together to complete the pumpkin shape. Each wedge has an individual pouch to allow for compartmentalized packing. The inventors explain that on an airplane you could place most of the bag in the overheard bin space but detach one wedge to keep with you at your seat so you can easily access your items.
And finally, pumpkin patent number 8, my personal favorite. An amazing pumpkin beret! What better way to get into the fall spirit than to literally wear it on your head? This hat is sure to make you feel festive whether you wear it as part of a Halloween costume or wear it around town.
That concludes our pumpkin patent round up. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about patents and the wide variety of patentable pumpkin products! Feel free to comment your favorite pumpkin patent and have a lovely fall.
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2023