Spooked and Impressed-Jack-O’Lantern and Other Halloween Patents


It is believed that vegetable and fruit carving occurred 10,000 years ago. The modern carving related to Halloween stems from Ireland and the Scottish Highlands where turnips or manel wurzels (large beets) were used to cave out grotesque looking faces. Halloween was also the festival of Samhain, a time when it was believed that souls of the dead roamed the earth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack-o%27-lantern.

Nobody knows exactly when, but Jack-O’-Lanterns became actual lanterns that were sold, mostly made of metal (plastic as we know it today wasn’t invented until 1907). In 1889, G.A. Beidler was granted a patent for the “Jack-A-Lantern”. It essentially looks like a face on a stick which you can light on fire. These were invented for the purpose of amusing children but to also apparently…

…supply a long-known want, and which may be used as a campaign-torch, for celebrations, torch-light processions, political meetings, and other like occasions where an effective pyrotechnic display is desirable.”  https://www.google.com/patents/US396252

It seems that inventor ML. Barnes was not satisfied with the Beidler’s invention and decided that improvements needed to occur. In 1903, a patent for the “Jack-O’Lantern’ was granted. It was not only more balanced (could be supported by an upright position), it was perhaps more lifelike and creepy, if that’s even possible.

The primary object of these improvements is to produce a device of the character described of thin sheet metal which is composed of lower and upper telescoping members locked together by the pintles of a bail or handle, one of the upright walls of the shell being provided with an opening and a swinging closure for the opening, upon which is mounted suitable members representing a pair of eyes, a nose, and a month, one or more of the members being movable and operated manually when desired.” https://www.google.com/patents/US741293?dq=741293
Invisibility Cloak

The Harry Potter films caused a frenzy of invisibility cloak inventions since around 2006. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that US Patent Office issued U.S. Patent 8,253,639 titled “Wideband electromagnetic cloaking systems” was granted. The invention is an electrical resonator system that Is “… a plurality of concentric electrical resonator shells, each shell including a substrate having first and second surfaces and a close-packed arrangement of electrically conductive material formed on the first surface, wherein the closed-packed arrangement comprises a plurality of self-similar electrical resonator shapes and is configured to operate at a desired passband of electromagnetic radiation.” https://www.google.com/patents/US8253639

I was a little bit confused so I did some googling. There are a few Youtube videos which helped with my confusion. Here is one specifically showing the cloaking of a pipe; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BrVxpPYMiA. And here another that purports to show the cloaking of a man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_bj5NTnd_0 We’re not yet to Harry Potter standards, but it looks like these inventors made amazing strides over the last decade.

Smoke and Fog Machine

A big thank you to Batt Howard who was granted a patent for “Method and means for producing smoke and fog effects” in 1937. By his patent application description it sounds like he knew exactly what he was doing:

“ My invention relates to method and apparatus for producing smoke and fog effects particularly adapted to the production of smoke screens and smoke and fog effects for stage and cinema purposes.” https://www.google.com/patents/US2070038

Anatomical Skeleton

Fake skeletons are scary especially when they are in places of comfort (a skeleton wearing a hat on a rocking chair on a porch for example). While there were skeleton models prior to 1911, they were not ideal replicas, weren’t always upright, and moveable in actual joint areas.  Inventor Charles Fleck set out to do this very thing with his anatomical skeleton.

“The object of my invention is to provide a skeleton of the kind mentioned, in which, when it is held or suspended in an upright position, all the vertebrae, ribs and other parts shall assume the normal position, but which shall still permit such freedom of movement as to allow the various motions of the bones in the living body to be performed as well as to admit of the bones being placed in the various abnormal positions and relations to each other which constitute bony lesions or departures from the true order of the living skeleton.”


Granted, Mr. Fleck’s primary priority was for the creation of these skeletons to study osteopathy and to be used both in classrooms and medical settings. They certainly have served that purpose, but little did he know there would be future skeletons with moveable joints made of plastic, available for purchase at your local Walgreens.

At Mohr IP Law, we have a spooktacular team ready to assist you with your intellectual property needs. Contact us today.


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