The Most Useless Gun Patent I Have Ever Read

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I read many gun patents and gun patent applications each week. I have seen many patents describing useless gun-related inventions but Patent Application US 2014/0173960 Al has got to be the worst I have ever seen. The patent application was filed on December 26, 2012, just days after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

The patent application title is  “Methods and Systems for Detecting a Gun and/or Bullet Within One’s Vicinity Via an Electronic Device and Connecting to a Social Network”. It works as follows …

1. An “electronic beacon non-removably incorporated within the weapon and/or the projectile
2. The beacon can communicate with a smartphone when the gun is loaded. This alerts anyone in the vicinity that a loaded gun is nearby.
3. The beacon communicates the bullet trajectory to a smartphone when the gun is fired.  The trajectory is calculated using the GPS in the cell phone and an accelerometer/compass in the gun.
4. The smartphone runs an app which then published the bullet trajectory on Facebook and alerts anyone in the flight path that they might be hit.
Have you ever read such nonsense? They propose we embed a radio transmitter into every single gun and every single bullet, in such a way that they cannot be removed or tampered with and that the batteries never run dry. Even if this was possible, it could be easily bypassed by wrapping the gun in aluminum foil and so blocking the radio beacon. It would also require everyone’s smartphone to be fitted with a receiver (they authors also say it could be embedded inside TVs and laptops). Now imagine what happens when someone loads their shotgun and chambers a round before locking it in the safe … the entire neighborhood could be alerted and no doubt the police would be called to investigate.
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Aside from its absurdity, the patent application is also notable for how well written it is. The inventors, a New York electrical engineer turned intellectual property attorney and a New York-based Director of R&D for a chemical company, spent a lot of time crafting its elegant prose. In paragraph [0012] the authors philosophize about the nature of man …
throughout history violence has plagued the human race. Since ancient times the strong have preyed on the weak and the meek. We have passed laws to protect society, but the violence continues. Laws attempt to change human behavior, but laws are not able to change human nature. Laws are not enough to protect people from aggression. Inventions and innovations, however, may supplement laws in order to keep dangerous or violent people in our society in check.

Now excuse me while I go patent a “Radio Wave Blocking Gun Holster And/Or Protective Case”. I could be rich!



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • jpr

    Point #4 is…awesome. Two things: 1) I’m not sure that someone who has been shot needs Facebook to tell them they’ve been shot, and 2) I am certain that the projectile will be traveling slightly faster than the upload speed of nearby laptops such that warnings on facebook that you “are in the flight path” or that “you might be hit” will be completely unhelpful. So there’s that.

    • Ken

      Nah, it’s clearly to remind them to get an “I’ve been shot” selfie before they do anything else.

      • Zachary marrs

        Omg took a 9mm to the sternum, must post on Facebook lol

        • Ken

          You know once you do that someone is going to try to one up you by posting a .45/10mm/.357 to the head selfie, haha.

    • lucusloc

      Not that you would be able to get out of the way even with instantaneous warning. At est you would have just enough time to get in a very cinematic “OH SHI—” before catching the round.

      Of course all that assumes the GPS would be able to get accurate ballistics, and given the variables I just do not see that being the case.

      I guessing this patent was filed as a troll. I bet it is broad enough that they can go after Tracking Point now that it talks to smart phones.

      • Anonymoose

        New Yorkers are just dumb enough to be serious about this.

  • Giao Nguyen

    For even more fun, just transmit the signal that a gun is loaded everywhere without a gun at all. Fun with electronics!

  • James

    The closing argument works much better for the “just buy a gun and protect yourself” crowd that it did for these crazies.

  • Mobious

    When Facebook alerts me “Warning, projectile headed your way” I’m sure going to be safe and secure… and can just imagine not paying attention to the alerts of loaded guns after a while if I’m passing by cops, which would be the only people that would abide by implementing such tech if it were to ever exist, while anyone wanting to get away would avoid this all together by not having anything weird installed to their guns/bullets.

    As all the usual arguments would go

  • Ko I

    Yeah, because GPS systems that are so accurate that they’re not really sure which street you’re on are going to be able to determine that a cartridge and a gun are even in the same house.

  • Chance

    This is epic. Thanks for sharing – made my morning!

  • Paul O.

    Would be very useful for criminals as a law enforcement detector (well, if it actually worked).

  • They just need to cross link this app with the silly IBM “bionic body armor” patent from a few years ago. That was the one that used electrodes to stimulate muscle contractions so the wearer could dodge incoming rounds.

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2009/02/12/ibm-files-matrix-style-bullet-dodging-patent/

  • John

    Looks like a patent trolling attempt. You read about all these patent trolls doing terrible things with their patents, asking for licensing fees, etc., but the reality is very few patent trolls actually manage to patent something that ends up ever getting used.

    Also, thanks to a recent SCOTUS ruling, if you have patents but no actual implementation, you can’t enforce it anymore. Although this patent was filed well before the ruling so they didn’t know that then.

  • iksnilol

    Best way to not get shot is to not talk s***.

    + if you get the reference.

  • Bill

    It’s stupid, right now, but I bet a lot of the same comments were made when Identification Friend/Foe and missile launch & lock detection technology were introduced into aerial combat many decades ago. That’s also why there are still guns mounted on many combat aircraft, and not just missiles.

    • Mystick

      I think they actually wanted that for BVR engagements. But IFF is more of a “don’t shoot at me, I’m on your side” for radar(and visible on MANPAD Stingers as the two parallel plates in the front) than actually tracking anything.

      • Cynic

        That kind of equipment also caused huge problems when it was implemented. Case in point being the ship to ship missile defences on British naval vessels in the Falkland Isand defence. We used exocet misiles so our defences recognised them as friendly and didn’t shoot down our misiles just after launch. Great awesome useful tech unfortunately the french will sell exocet to anyone so when the argies fired them at us then we got a nasty shock and a sunk ship.

        The increasing push for smart guns and security and safety via electronics worries me as I am dam sure it will fail when needed most and I am dam sure it will be jammed, hacked or otherwise attacked.

        Imagine going to fire in self defense and the chav scrote grinning smugly as your gun doesn’t work.

        Or imagine if some anti gun zealot manages to get hold of a jammer that wipes your authorisation to use the pistol. Boom you have a paperweight and that zealot will be responsible for your death when you need it and it fails. Even if he/she/it is caught. I guarantee he/she/it will be proud of his action’s and the anti gun crowd will worship him as a celebrity

        Companies installing them in entrances to buildings government agencies deactivating weapons after an earthquake or other incident. (We have already seen disarm orders and revocations of ccp’so in states of emergency) nope nope nope nope nope far far far too many negatives and possible risks for me to want any kind of wifi or rid or communicating with my smartphone on a defensive firearm.

        Though admittedly a round counter in a Google glass HUD would be cool similarly a system that could record.my shooting and analyse why I had fliers at the range automatically would be amazing. Imagine the glass and earpiece telling you you limp wrist ed a little or you jerked the trigger or snatched at it a little and took a photo of the target with the reason for each deviation from POA labeled. Though on second thoughts photos saying ‘you are a shit shot’ in the reason slot being automatically posted to my twitter feed could be embarrassing.

  • Professor Hale

    I thought you actually had to “invent” a product to get a patent, not just talk about inventing it. I see several technologies here that have not been invented.

    That GPS bullet is a pretty good idea. But only Jack Bauer would be allowed to use it to “tag” enemy agents.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Yep… thats the problem with the patent system. Few (if anyone) thinks real inventions (such as gun designs) should not be patented, but these ‘concept’ patents are crippling innovation in America and tying up the patent system for legitimate users.

    • greensoup

      The standard has significantly dropped. You can patent an idea without the ability to execute. Stick figures are the new standard. If you work in certain fields you get patent infringement lawsuits in a continuous stream and they go on for around a decade.

      I don’t really blame the government for this one. You have companies and lawyers that pay top dollar and charge top dollar. The government doesn’t have that kind of budget.

    • BobNoxious46

      I happen to have a patent on numbers.

      I believe the patent system is abused by managers hoping to get their names on a patent. I “invented” a method for calibrating / configuring an electronic module in vehicle final assembly back in the 90’s. I never thought anything of it, but one of my managers (who incidentally had absolutely nothing to do with it) wrote up a patent application and pushed it through legal. I was listed as a “co-inventor”. This has happened to me twice in my career.

  • Mystick

    “Inventions and innovations, however, may supplement laws in order to keep dangerous or violent people in our society in check.”

    Yes. Inventions and innovations such as Firearms.

  • BFG

    Mostly an impractical and panic inducing idea. However, there is one part of this that is possibly pratical and useful: the “this weapon was just fired here”.

    Employed by police departments, they can know when, how many times, and where a police firearm was used. This can also be used to track rounds thru the barrel for equipment servicing and replace. Military use is possible also.

    Civilian use like this is possible but very unlikely. This tech is only practical in firearms engineered around this system. Frankly, this seems much more logical and useful than micro-stamping.

  • obvious

    If it wasn’t completely obvious, this is a patent filed in irony, similar to Penn Gilette’s (sp?) method for inducing a woman to orgasm using a hot tub jet.

  • Maybe they’ll mix this with the Beretta i-Protect so it tweets how many rounds are left in the magazine. Will it put out an alert that says “Take Down available in 3, 2, 1… NOW!”, I wonder? OOOO I know! Mix this with Google Glass and superimpose an Augmented Reality line that represents the trajectory of the bullet for everyone in the near by area. That way you’ll know to stay way from that path. This is all starting to sound like Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Since I’ll have to have this as some kind of mandatory equipment in the future I want the ability to track my round count in my carry gun on my Google Glass. Course it will look kinda funny having a little red line pointing downward coming off of my hip.

    Man video games are so fun 🙂

    • “I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

      “My Droid says you fired six.”
      BOOOM

  • John Dalton

    That is NOT ridiculous…what is ridiculous is that the U.S. government just proposed a $29,000,000.00 budget for the R&D of these devices….

    ….probably…

  • Riot

    The trajectory parts with gps and facebook warnings has to be the dumbest thing I have ever read

  • foobar

    is he retarded. Well it cost some bozo $10K to file a patent that will never be realized.

  • Tom Currie

    The idea isn’t that the ‘inventor’ will ever try to develop a working model of such a device. The entire purpose of the patent filing is to be able to demand royalties from anyone who at some point in the future ever develops any sort of electronic or web-connected application that performs any function even slightly similar to any of the ridiculous claims in this application.
    The applicant is simply a Patent Troll

  • ozzallos .

    So this bullet has an antenna, transmitter and powersource… inside it? What caliber is it again? I mean, i guess i would want to know if somebody chambered a 20mm round somewhere nearby too.

  • Sulaco

    This is about as creepy as the patent filed about six months ago that would have required all guns to have a chip imbedded that allowed them to be “turned off” from orbit when the government decided it want to do so.

    • Anonymoose

      Pretty sure they want both, until they can get ALL guns b& except for specialized “firearms officers” (read “dumb jackboots who can’t aim for crap and kill 10x more innocent bystanders than actual criminals”).

  • Anonymoose

    >Since ancient times the strong have preyed on the weak and the meek.
    Gee, ya think? Pretty dang sure that’s what guns are supposed to prevent- as they’re supposed to put weak people on par with stronger people in a fight. I think these two New York idiots need to get the $4!^ beat out of them by someone bigger than them.

    On the other hand, we could rework this for a potentially useful application- it could be used to make actual “tracer” bullets, so you could shoot someone’s vehicle then track them via GPS.

  • Aaron E

    So funny it’s sad! Obviously some techno-geek who has absolutely NO firearms knowledge came up with this ridiculous contraption. He must have been watching Matrix Reloaded (you can actually see the bullets coming if you control the Matrix … I mean Facebook), when he came up with this brain child.

  • Matt

    BEEP BEEP BEEP… “EVERYONE DOWN! BULLETS INBOUND!!!”

  • BobNoxious46

    I wouldn’t worry about it – the software would likely be written by the Chinese or Indians and would crash so often that it would be unusable. The notifications would also be unreadable: “Burret azimuf 35 +/- 40 deglees east ofa nolfeast”.

  • Varkman111

    Just give me an app that tells me where the scumbags with the ankle bracelets are.