2003 #1: Soap Saver Dishes
2003 #2: Two-Person Cookbooks
2003 #3: Shared Exam Creation
2003 #4: Unkillable Alarm Clocks
2003 #5: Luggage Key Escrow
2003 #6: Multiple TV Guide Channels
2003 #7: Frequent Flyer Belt Buckles
2003 #8: AspiTonin
2003 #9: Internet Bus Locators
2003 #10: Coin-Operated Elevators
2003 #11: Surround-Sound Telephones
2003 #12: Weight Beaters
2003 #13: Cellular Clock Service
2003 #14: Triple Toilet-Paper Rolls
2003 #15: Instant Balance Transfers
2003 #16: Count-Every-Last-Stride Elliptical Runners
2003 #17: Optional Library Book Tracking
2003 #18: Google Caller ID
2003 #19: Internet Laundry Completion Notices
2003 #20: Raisin Bran Shipment Flipping
2003 #21: Caffeinated Mango Juice
2003 #1: Soap Saver Dishes

   Date: 2 Jan 2003 06:32:23 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   I'm writing to you to ask for clarification of UIC's policies regarding
   a recent idea of mine.
   I just read your office's web pages advertising the Online Measurement
   System (CR18) invention. My new idea involves a level of creativity
   similar to the level displayed by that invention, and has a much wider
   potential market. Perhaps UIC is interested in obtaining a patent on
   this idea, and promoting transfer of this technology to an industrial
   partner, for the benefit of both UIC and the general public.
   The invention is a Soap Saver Dish. The Soap Saver Dish is a plastic
   holder for soap. It has several prongs reaching up out of a tray. Soap
   can sit on top of the prongs, while soapy water collects in the tray.
   The prongs reach higher than the edge of the tray, so that water
   collected in the tray does not touch the soap.
   The prior art includes two types of soap holders:
      * A soap dish is a tray. It holds soap in place, and collects soapy
        water, keeping the soapy water off the underlying surface (unless
        the soap dish overflows). It does not prevent the soap from resting
        in water and turning to mush.
      * A soap saver has several prongs reaching up from a flat surface. It
        holds the soap in place above that surface, preventing the soap
        from turning to mush. It does not collect soapy water.
   The Soap Saver Dish combines the advantages of soap dishes and soap
   savers. It appears to be new. The closest prior art I have found in my
   market research is a soap dish with prongs at the same height as the top
   of the tray; this fails to keep the soap out of the water when the tray
   is full. The Soap Saver Dish avoids that problem.
   Specific questions:
   1. Does this idea constitute ``intellectual property'' under the
   University of Illinois Policy on Patents and Copyrights? Please explain
   your answer in enough detail that it can be independently verified.
   2. As I recall, I came up with this idea in the shower one morning. Am I
   correct in concluding that, under the University of Illinois Policy on
   Patents and Copyrights, the university does not own this idea? Please
   explain your answer.
   3. Am I correct in concluding that I am under no obligation to report
   this idea to the university? Are there any relevant factors here other
   than the location in which I came up with the idea? Please explain your
   4. Whether or not disclosure is required, I could assign patent rights
   in this idea to the university. Is UIC interested in this idea? How does
   your office make these decisions?

2003 #2: Two-Person Cookbooks

   Date: 3 Jan 2003 08:29:24 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   I am writing to you regarding another recent idea of mine. I have the
   same questions here that I had regarding the Soap Saver Dish.
   The idea is a Two-Person Cookbook. A normal recipe is a sequence of
   instructions for one cook to prepare a dish; when two cooks want to work
   together, they have to figure out which instructions can be carried out
   in parallel, how to fairly divide the labor among the cooks, etc. The
   Two-Person Cookbook already contains all this information in novel
   two-person recipes.
   I should note that I received your previous message. While I appreciate
   your statement of enthusiasm for the Soap Saver Dish, I cannot accept
   that statement as a substitute for clarification of UIC's patent
   policies. Does UIC require, or desire, disclosure of these ideas? Please
   explain your answers.

2003 #3: Shared Exam Creation

   Date: 4 Jan 2003 05:14:10 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   You said in your second message that works are ``outside the patent
   policy'' if they are not ``within the scope of your UIC employment in
   the Math Department.'' But this begs the question: exactly what items
   are ``within the scope'' of my employment?
   Here's another recent idea of mine: Shared Exam Creation. I've noticed
   that professors often teach courses similar to courses taught before or
   taught at other universities. Instead of repeating all the effort of
   course creation from scratch, they can combine efforts. In particular,
   there's tremendous redundancy in the creation of thousands of similar
   exams on a single topic; a fraction of the effort would produce a pool
   of exam questions that everyone could use. The pool could include
   answers, grading scales, statistics on student performance, etc.
   Does this idea constitute ``intellectual property'' under the patent
   policy? Is this idea ``within the scope'' of my employment? If so, why?
   If not, why not?

2003 #4: Unkillable Alarm Clocks

   Date: 5 Jan 2003 09:52:08 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: the Unkillable Alarm Clock. I have the
   same questions about the Unkillable Alarm Clock that I had about the
   Soap Saver Dish, the Two-Person Cookbook, and Shared Exam Creation.
   The Unkillable Alarm Clock makes noise for a preset amount of time. It
   cannot be turned off. It has a battery backup so that it cannot be
   usefully unplugged. It comes with a security cable so that it can be
   locked to an unmovable piece of furniture. It is built from reinforced
   steel so that it cannot be destroyed by a baseball bat. In short, unlike
   a normal alarm clock, the Unkillable Alarm Clock ensures that the user
   does not simply turn the alarm off and go back to sleep.

2003 #5: Luggage Key Escrow

   Date: 6 Jan 2003 09:38:14 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Luggage Key Escrow.
   As I'm sure you've heard, the government often needs to open luggage
   checked on commercial planes. The Luggage Key Escrow idea is to deposit
   copies of luggage keys with the government, so that luggage can be
   safely locked without interfering with the government's need to open the
   Of course, electronic locks will allow simpler key management than
   traditional pin-tumbler locks.

2003 #6: Multiple TV Guide Channels

   Date: 7 Jan 2003 14:55:06 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Multiple TV Guide Channels.
   Right now, a typical cable TV service has only one TV Guide Channel,
   which takes several minutes to present a complete TV listing. With
   Multiple TV Guide Channels, the TV viewer can see the complete TV
   listing much more quickly. The listing can be organized by channel, by
   time, by type of show, etc.; with enough TV Guide Channels, listings
   organized in several different ways can be presented simultaneously.

2003 #7: Frequent Flyer Belt Buckles

   Date: 8 Jan 2003 08:11:27 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Frequent Flyer Belt Buckles.
   Airports have turned up the sensitivity on their metal detectors at
   security checkpoints. Common metal belt buckles are now setting off the
   detectors, so passengers are forced to take their belts off. Frequent
   Flyer Belt Buckles solve this problem: they are made of materials that
   don't set off airport metal detectors.

2003 #8: AspiTonin

   Date: 9 Jan 2003 08:01:12 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: AspiTonin.
   Many people take daily doses of aspirin. Many people take daily doses of
   melatonin. An AspiTonin tablet contains both aspirin and melatonin, so
   that people who want both drugs can take a single tablet. AspiTonin is
   also suitable for occasional use.

2003 #9: Internet Bus Locators

   Date: 10 Jan 2003 09:38:22 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Internet Bus Locators.
   It can be rather frustrating to plan bus travel, because buses almost
   never run on time. An Internet Bus Locator is a web site that shows the
   current locations of buses and, possibly, updated estimates for the
   arrival times of the buses at subsequent stops, allowing passengers to
   adapt their schedules accordingly.

2003 #10: Coin-Operated Elevators

   Date: 11 Jan 2003 09:45:28 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   This is the tenth message I've sent you on this topic. Your responses so
   far really haven't been of any help in clarifying UIC's policies. Is
   there some reason you aren't answering my questions?
   Anyway, here's another idea I've had: Coin-Operated Elevators.
   With Coin-Operated Elevators, instead of pressing an elevator button,
   the passenger inserts a coin into an appropriate slot. Coin-Operated
   Elevators help shift the costs of running an elevator to the passengers
   who use the elevator. They also discourage pranksters from annoying
   legitimate users by casually pressing random elevator buttons.

2003 #11: Surround-Sound Telephones

   Date: 12 Jan 2003 09:18:07 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Surround-Sound Telephones.
   Current telephones transmit a single sound channel. Surround-Sound
   Telephones transmit several sound channels, allowing the listener to
   hear separate sounds from different directions. Surround-Sound
   Telephones are particularly convenient for conference calls.

2003 #12: Weight Beaters

   Date: 13 Jan 2003 19:46:41 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Weight Beaters.
   Weight Beaters are a method of encouraging participants to lose weight.
   A participant who does not lose the desired number of pounds in a month
   is beaten up. This negative feedback can, of course, be combined with
   more traditional positive-feedback weight-loss mechanisms.

2003 #13: Cellular Clock Service

   Date: 14 Jan 2003 10:35:37 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Cellular Clock Service.
   My cell phone requires manual setting of the current time. With Cellular
   Clock Service, the current date, time, time zone, etc. are transmitted
   by cell towers, for automatic use by cell phones.

2003 #14: Triple Toilet-Paper Rolls

   Date: 15 Jan 2003 09:49:52 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Triple Toilet-Paper Rolls.
   You may have noticed stores carrying packs of double rolls of toilet
   paper. Each double roll carries twice as many square feet of paper as a
   single roll, typically 50 square feet instead of 25 square feet, with
   not much increase in the diameter.
   Hey, if double is better, why not triple? A Triple Toilet-Paper Roll has
   three times as many square feet of paper as a single roll. The relative
   increase in diameter from a double roll to a triple roll is even smaller
   than the increase from a single roll to a double roll. Toilet-paper-roll
   holders can easily be selected to accommodate Triple Toilet-Paper Rolls.

2003 #15: Instant Balance Transfers

   Date: 16 Jan 2003 08:40:43 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Instant Balance Transfers.
   Today, credit-card balance transfers typically take days to be debited
   by the new company, and days more to be credited by the old company.
   There is no reason, in this age of modern communication technology, for
   balance transfers to take so long. Instant Balance Transfers are debited
   and credited within minutes of being requested.

2003 #16: Count-Every-Last-Stride Elliptical Runners

   Date: 17 Jan 2003 12:13:32 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Count-Every-Last-Stride Elliptical Runners.
   I noticed today that a Precor EFX 546 elliptical-runner exercise machine
   didn't count all my strides. It showed 6006 strides at 32:59; I did a
   few more strides; it reached its time limit of 33:00 and continued to
   show 6006 strides, ignoring the strides I had done in the final second.
   I would have found this quite frustrating if it had made the difference
   between, say, 5998 and 6001 strides.
   A Count-Every-Last-Stride Elliptical Runner is just like a Precor EFX
   546, but it counts all the strides performed by the user, including the
   strides performed in the last second.

2003 #17: Optional Library Book Tracking

   Date: 18 Jan 2003 11:39:20 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Optional Library Book Tracking.
   Sometimes I need to briefly consult a book that one of my colleagues has
   checked out of the library. If I knew who had the book, I could simply
   drop by the right office and look at the book, with a minimum of fuss.
   For privacy reasons, libraries normally don't reveal who has checked out
   a book. Optional Library Book Tracking means that someone checking out a
   book can tell the library that this disclosure is okay. Of course, the
   same information could be maintained on a third-party web page, but
   having the library publish the information is more convenient and more

2003 #18: Google Caller ID

   Date: 19 Jan 2003 09:59:39 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Google Caller ID.
   Normal Caller ID reveals the phone number of a caller, and in some cases
   the name of the caller. Google Caller ID reveals much more information:
   the results of a Google search for the phone number. Like normal Caller
   ID, Google Caller ID can be performed automatically while the phone is

2003 #19: Internet Laundry Completion Notices

   Date: 20 Jan 2003 11:29:33 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Internet Laundry Completion Notices.
   Typical home laundry facilities include buzzers that alert the user when
   a load of laundry is done. Buzzers do not work, however, when the user
   is far away from the laundry: for example, when the user starts a load
   in a laundry room in a typical high-rise apartment building and then
   goes back to his apartment. With Internet Laundry Completion Notices,
   each washer and dryer sends email to the user when a load finishes.

2003 #20: Raisin Bran Shipment Flipping

   Date: 21 Apr 2003 08:02:57 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Several high-priority tasks over the past few months have forced me to
   delay some disclosures of patentable ideas. Please accept my apologies;
   I will endeavor to catch up as soon as possible. I am, of course, aware
   of UIC's budget cuts; I hope that your office will, sometime soon, be
   able to successfully commercialize an invention, and thus help the
   university survive these difficult times.
   Here's the first item in my backlog: Raisin Bran Shipment Flipping.
   As you are probably aware, raisins and bran have different densities.
   Vigorous shaking of a box of raisin bran, such as the shaking that
   happens naturally during a truck shipment, will eventually separate the
   raisins from the bran, to the annoyance of the eventual raisin-bran
   Raisin Bran Shipment Flipping means periodically changing the
   orientation of a raisin-bran box: for example, shipping the box for an
   hour right side up, then an hour upside down, then an hour right side
   up, then an hour upside down, and so on. Each change will reverse the
   direction of raisin flow through the bran, so that the raisins do not
   collect at one end of the box.

2003 #21: Caffeinated Mango Juice

   Date: 22 Apr 2003 04:32:59 -0000
   Dear Ms. Tarzian:
   Here's another idea I've had: Caffeinated Mango Juice.
   As the success of Mountain Dew (sweetened caffeinated orange juice with
   other ingredients) demonstrates, many caffeine users like to take their
   caffeine with large doses of sugar. Surely some of these users are fans
   of the sweet taste of mangoes, and would switch to Caffeinated Mango
   Juice as their preferred morning drink if it were readily available.