U.S. patent number D440,263 is what’s called a “design” patent. Design patents protect the “ornamental design” of an item. If you get a design patent, you can keep people from making things that look like your item. They are reasonably rare because they do not offer protection that is as strong as the much more common “utility” patents sought by most inventors.
This patent is, well…amusing. In a recent note to the PATNEWS list, Greg Aharonian wrote a defense of Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, quoting a letter written to the editors of The Economist. The letter said, in part, “Trent Lott’s Mississippi is near the bottom in education with no major research facility and has a long history of racism.” Aharonian quipped that the number of patents issued per capita was likely to be higher in San Francisco than Mississippi, and cited D440,263 (issed to a Petaluma man) as something that might have been issued “in anticipation of Senator Lott’s statement.”
It’s a design patent, so there’s only one claim that protects the item as drawn. You need to get a TIFF plug-in for your browser to view the images, but it’s worth it. Trust me.