The idea behind patenting is to make sure you own the rights to something if it ever becomes a commercial success. If there’s money involved, Kenyans are definitely likely to be on it. But most ideas never make it past the design phases. Some, however bizarre, get patented.
10. The Answer to Wet Toilet Seats
In 2007, Kelechi Obilo ad Chinyere Obilor registered patent KE000363 for a ‘dual layered disinfected hand glove like tissue for wiping cistern handles and toilet seat before use.’ Basically a tissue paper for specifically wiping common toilet seats. A solution, it seems, for people with OCD to whom even the common tissue paper is a health hazard. Officially known as TOLICARE, the design is for double-layered gloves made of a tissue-like material. There are two gloves, one to be exposed after the first wiping and the second after, well, the second wiping. TOLICARE is also disinfected, and most importantly, disposable.
Photo Courtesy of Art Sandhu
9. A Structure for Housing Mammals and Fish
If you own a hamster, have you thought about how boring its life is? Stuck in a cage, the wheel must become boring really fast. Erick Kariuki thought about that when he was visiting an underwater hotel in Dubai. Eager to change the situation and make sure his small rodent pet was having a blast all the time, he designed ‘a Structure for Housing Mammals and Fish.”
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Bell
Registered under Patent number GB20110009480 (2012), Eric’s invention is a hamster cage combined with a fish tank to make an underwater housing for pets. The tank and the tunnel are encased in glass to make it easy for everyone to watch the animals as they move and to presumably think about ingenous the combination is. The rodent, Eric envisioned, would live in a permanent holiday hotel. Whether the fish would be having as much fun is a whole different idea.
Eric’s underwater hamster cage may sound bizarre but he turned down millions from someone who thought it would be a commercial success.
8. Cigarette Tar Remover
In 1996, Ayub Ndii from Kijabe applied for a patent for a Cigarette Tar Remover (CTR). This ingenious product supposedly removes tar and other volatile chemicals before the smoke reaches the smoker. It is a handy device with three chambers designed to work together. The first chamber receives and cools the hot smoke from the cigarrete. It is then moved to the third chamber where the separation of tar is done. The second chamber acts as a heat exchanger to separate the tar from the cigarrete smoke.
Image by Google Patents
Ayub was awarded the patent KE000068 in 1997. Whether its three chambers actualy work to eliminate tar is another story altogether.
7. The Vegetable Leaf Cutting Machine
Your vegetable leaf cutting machine is probably your mama mboga. She can cut through a whole cabbage in less than two minutes, all while selling tomatoes to some else and telling someone to stop fondling the avocados. But she probably has cuts on her hands of times when that multi-tasking nearly cost her limbs.
For Charles Muiga Mirera, this situation was untenable. What if, he thought, there was a machine that did the same job? In 2007, Charles applied for a patent for a Vegetable Leaf Cutting Machine. The machine, which looks like a miniature version of the common animal feed cutting machine, is designed to do exactly what its name suggests. Charles owns its under patent number KE000317.
The device has six key parts: a cutting blade, a restricting evice, a cutting board, a leaf hopper, a loader, and a supporting device for the loader and the hopper. The blade rotates on its central axis and hangs perpendicular to the table and the leaf loader. It is also electric, meaning that you don’t have to anything more than wash the vegetables, place them on the loader, and turn on the switch. Then you can lean back with a glass of wine as your mama mboga loses business.
6. Disposable Scented Knickers
The ultimate invention in the busy, rather limited, world of designing knickers was edible knickers. Before that though, Stephen Mutisya Mackenzie, had applied for a patent for ‘disposable protective shielded undergament’, or simply scented underwear. All underwear, if you have enough money, is disposable.
Stephen Mutisya is a problem solver. These knickers are designed for women durng menstrual cycle when “…where use is appropriate and the disposition by simply throwing it away is highly desirable.”. It has an absorbent liner and moisture repelling shield. The knickers are designed to prevent menstrual fluids from leaking out to the outer clothing as the absorbent cotton liner is in touch with the napkin.
Granted under Patent KE000126, these disposable scented knickers are adaptive to undergarments such as “such as so-called, “Bikini’, “Brief’, or “Hipster” styles in popular use today” as the patent filing helpfully notes.
5. Vending Machine for Women Hygenic Products
Another rather ingenious but seemingly misguided invention for women’s hygienic products was Anna Chepkonga’s vending machine. Anna designed a vending machine like the common one, only that it dispensed women’s hygienic products such as sanitary towels and tampons. There was hardly anything different, other than the products inside, from the common vending machine.
Image Courtesy of ApkXda
Anna, envisioning her product as ideal for even rural areas, had designed an optional mechanical releasing system for areas with no electricity. Given the social stigma that comes with women’s hygienic products, one might term Anna’s invention as visionary. She was granted Patent number KE000128 in June 1999.
But Anna has another more successful invention, one that you might actually use in your home. Under Patent KE 000055, Anna owns the design for Insecticidal Bait Composition, what we know in the market as Cockrakill Paste. She patented it in 1996 as a solution to the seemingly immortal roaches.
4. Mobile Theatre
If you have ever seen one of those cars that have speakers mounted on top that go blaring advertisements or gospel songs, or a clip about Illuminati in Kenya, then you probably have Jude Njomo to thank for it. In 1997, Njomo registered patent KE000125 for a mobile theatre. His patent was for a theatre where a television screen was mounted ontop of a car with the studio inside. His invention was external audiences as the then use of television screens inside cars limited visblity to fare-paying audiences.
Photo Courtesy of News24.co.ke
The patent filing is detailed, covering the general concept of the mobile theatre as well as the carriage to hold the television and speakers in place. Given that this was 1997, Njomo must have envisioned the traditional CRT television, alienating vehicles such as Proboxes whose roof would collapse under their weight.
It is unclear whether the patent holder is the current Member of Parliament for Kiambu Town Constituency.
3. A Pit Latrine Slab
Anyone who grew up or lives in rural areas knows the traditional pit latrine, or long-drop loo. The squat and shat system is simple, with a structure built on a hole where all and sundry can squat and relieve themselves. The structure you squat on, the slab, is patented, at least if it is made of plastic. In 1998, Nakhil Shah of Kentainers Limited designed and patented a polyethylene toilet slab. Patent KE000046 is for a slab with a hole to affix a vent tube to let out gases, two rised foot rests and a molded in central key hole for drainage.
Photo Courtesy of Susan
The patent filing not only covers its use in the traditional toilet but also in case the toilet is a trench. Imagine that, having your own slab on the common drainage so you can use it whenever you feel like using the toilet. The plastic slab is designed to be easy to make and transport. It is made with two layers of polyethylene, with one being non-foamed polyethylene and the other being foamed polyethylene.
Under KE000045, Nakhil Shah owns another patent for a well wall casing plastic device http://www.cipit.org/index.php/ke000045
2. The Bee-Straw
Beer frothing is perhaps the only good thing about drinking beer. But Robert Ndegwa hated it. In 1997/8, Ndegwa had a brilliant idea that would solve that problem you have with your frothing beer. He designed a special straw to use while drinking, one complete with a gripping hook so you can look cool while getting wasted.
Photo by Benedicte Desrus
Patent KE000073, granted to Ndegwa on 3rd March 1999, is for a product called Bee-Straw. It is designed to ‘eliminate frothing and foaming of the beer.’ The beer straw has three parts, an adjustable transfer tube, a gripping hook, and a mouthpiece. The three can be manufactured separately or together. It has a non-return valve to prevent liquids from going back into the container. The gripping hook keeps the bee-straw in place on the beer bottle. “Once the bee-straw in securely held on to the container with the gripping hook, the user places his/her lips on the mouthpiece and sucks on the liquid to once enjoyment without leaning forward or backward to reach the drink”
The patent filing claims that the straw will ‘add status to the occasion.’ Trust me, you need this in your life.
1. All Time Calendar
Replacing calendars every year is a tedious job we could all do without. There are only so many calendars one can have on a wall, and switching them every year is one of those things we could all do without. What if there was an all-time calendar?
Image Courtesy of Tom B
Well, look no further! Onyango Olal and Charles Richard applied for a patent for an All-Time Calendar in 1997. The brilliant yet bizarre invention can be made from wood, metal or plastic. On whichever material, the months and days are indicated on two different plates both fixed to the main frame. You can choose whether you want the days or months to appear as either columns or rows.
The days are indicated on 14 movable plates which can be moved vertically or horizontally. The system accounts for leap years by first having January and February on separate plates from the rest of the months. To make the calendar for the next year, one only needs to know the day of the 1st January of that year. You then move the plate to coincide with that day, aliging the pattern. If it is a leap year, there is an alternative plate with the 29th of February.
If this sounds unnecessarily complex already, then you haven’t seen the inclusion of the Y-2000=N reminder R formula which the inventors suggest for the curious user who wants to time travel. Well, maybe not time travel, but set the dates for any arbitrary year. This might be the solution to holiday tasks for your children.