The wonderful world of patents

Episode 1

Technology has advanced at an astounding rate in recent years, and innovation has continued to be prolific, resulting in huge numbers of patent applications being filed every year by innovators expecting to capitalise on their inventions. Not all patented products make it to the market. In fact, the US Patent and Trademark Office say that only 3000 ideas out of 1.5 million are commercially viable. But that doesn’t mean that a lucrative gap in the market can’t be found. You just have to know where to look, and the evidence is there for all to see in the wonderful world of patents. Take, for example,…

The wonderful world of patents

The Flatulence Deodorizer

If, like me, you have over-indulged on everything delicious over Christmas, you may have some concerns about returning to work where other people may be forced to share a confined space with you.  Not so much because of COVID, but because of the odorous gases your digestive system has cooked up in its desperate attempt to process your gluttony.

But you need worry no more and look no further…I give you The Flatulence Deodorizer, which is “a pad to be worn by a user for absorbing gas due to flatulence”.  At last! A device for discretely deodorizing your flatulence, with the added benefit (apparently) of muffling the sound!

Now, this patent is a hoot (compared with some I’ve read, and it’s all relative), but you don’t have to read it, as one of their images says it all:

US Patent No. 6313371 – The Flatulence Deodorizer

You can almost feel the horror and disgust of the people around the airport carousel as the man in the rather fetching bomber jacket let’s rip without a care for the wellbeing of the people around him.  The moment was captured, I think, just before the loved-up couple at the side of the carousel caught a whiff, but they’re clearly next in line for the stench.

So I did some research and it turns out that this is a real thing.  You can buy these flatulence deodorisers from the company started by the original patent owners. The patent itself has now expired, but the company is still going strong and the real-life flatulence deodorizer can be viewed and bought here: (you can thank me later).

Laughable, Lunacy or Lucrative?

So what is my point?  All joking aside, the inventors discovered a gap in the market.  I’m guessing they did some market research to discover whether or not there was actually a need for the product and discovered that there was.  That will have been a tough one, I’m guessing, because who wants to talk about their flatulence issues? 

Nevertheless, they went ahead and appear to have been in business, selling various versions of this one patented product, for 19 years!  Frankly, I think that’s awesome and can only be described as a top trump (sorry).  But the real message here is that sometimes what seems like a joke or even lunacy to some, can be a real commercial winner if it fills a genuine gap in the market.

If you have an idea for a product, make sure you do your market research to find out if there’s a real need for it and, if so, how many people might need it (how big is your potential market?) and, more importantly, whether or not people will pay for it,  and, if so, how much.  Also, don’t forget to protect your innovation with intellectual property rights to give you a massive head start on potential competitors.  A word of warning, though, don’t disclose your ideas to anyone, except in the strictest confidence, unless and until you have filed a patent application or application for design registration.

If you need any intellectual property advice, please book a free initial consultation by emailing or visit our website at

Share this article on