There is more to the replica cauliflower ear saga than first met the ear.
My column “Is there a mushrooming market for cauliflower ears?” in The Guardian earlier this week begins:
“In the spirit of making-lemons-into-lemonade, a few individuals have realised that, when life produces cauliflower ears, it might also be coaxed to produce customers who will pay money for replicas of cauliflower ears….”
The column describes (1) a patent application for how to make replica mangled ears, and also (2) a company that is making and selling replica mangled ears. The three people who filed that patent application are in California. So is the manufacturer of the ears. It turns out that the manufacturer and the people who filed that patent application are not the same people.
Jag Gill of San Luis Obispo, California, who runs the company that makes and sells the ears, phoned me after the column was published. Mr. Gill has not just a patent application, but an actual patent for his ears (his company web site says, too modestly, “patent pending”). US patent D693967 S1 was granted to Jagvinder Gill on November 19, 2013. The US patent office gives it the priority date March 28, 2011.
The other patent application — #20130326793 A1 — I described in the column was filed by Andrew James Bingley, Walter David McCrindle and Christopher Brian Prickett of Fergus, California. The patent office gives that application a priority date of April 6, 2012 — more than a year later than Mr. Gill’s patent priority date. The Bingley/McCrindle/Prickett application is still under consideration — it has not yet been either granted or rejected. One might, if one could not resist atrocious puns, say the application has not yet been given a final hearing.
Mr. Gill says that many thousands of his replica cauliflower ears are in use, proudly attached to the heads of live, excited persons around the world. His company is called Dedicated Few. Its web site is www.cauliflowerears.com. Mr. Gill supplied the photos you see here. His twitter feed is filled with many more.
The Gill patent and the Bingley/McCrindle/Prickett patent application are similar, but not identical. The Gill patent contains drawings and a small amount of description. Bingley, McCrindle, and Prickett pack many descriptive paragraphs into their application. Mr. Gill says he knows little about the other replica-cauliflower-ear patent applicants, although the patent application indicates that they are located not far from him. Will their application be granted? Is the world in for a replica cauliflower ear war?
BONUS (only distantly related): The 2005 Ig Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to Gregg A. Miller, for inventing Neuticles — artificial replacement testicles for dogs, which are now available in several sizes, and several degrees of firmness. Mr. Miller holds US Patent #5868140, for a “Surgical method and apparatus for implantation of a testicular prosthetic device”. The photo here shows a Neutical.