Young inventor sweeps up

As reported by the BBC, Telegraph and PA, a 5 year old has apparently become the youngest British patent proprietor, after the UK-IPO recently granted him a patent to a double-headed brush.

right: the brush in action (isn't that Just William?)

The patent application (GB2438091) was reportedly made after young Sam Houghton came up with an idea to help his dad (Mark Houghton, who just happens to be a UK patent attorney) sweeping up in the garden. The original idea was that a combination of a coarse bristled brush with a finer brush could avoid the need to swap brushes when sweeping up.

The IPKat congratulates Sam on receiving a patent at such a young age. He wonders, however, whether the patented idea really was in fact all his own, as his father insists. Claim 1 of the granted patent reads:
"A sweeping device for sweeping a surface, the device comprising a combination of two brushes connected by a resilient connector;
the first brush comprises a brush head, a plurality of bristles affixed to the brush head and a handle extending from the brush head;
the second brush comprises a brush head, a plurality of bristles affixed to the brush head and a handle extending from the brush head;
wherein the resilient connector serves to retain said combination of brushes in resiliently moveable relation to one another in use."

To the IPKat's mind, this sounds like a case of where the patent attorney (who is not named as inventor) has contributed somewhat more than merely his drafting and amendment skills to get a patentable claim. The idea of the first and second brushes having different bristles, by the way, doesn't come in until claim 4, so is this really the core of the invention? Isn't the real invention the idea of the brushes being linked by the resilient connector? Merpel wonders what effect this might have, in light of Yeda, on who should really be the owner of the patent.
Young inventor sweeps up Young inventor sweeps up Reviewed by David Pearce on Thursday, April 17, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Most patent attorneys will have experienced the situation in which the client comes up with the vague idea, and we do the inventing. We just don't admit it.

  2. Having seen this story from the Mirror, the IPKat is possibly being a little unfair on Sam. Apparently his idea involved tying the brooms together with a large elastic band (a resilient connector, of course). The above comment is, however, still quite true.

  3. "course bristled" (in regular rows?) - "coarse", we think.
    Department of Minuscule Emendations

  4. Whoops. I am mortified. My only excuse is that I was writing it on the train. This appalling error has now been corrected.

  5. Is there a difference between "bristles" and "a plurality of bristles"?

  6. No. It's just an example of patentspeak being used automatically.

  7. Some clients are impressed with long words (this may include 5-year-olds).


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.