A James Bond adventure would be remiss without an ingenious gadget designed by Q-branch, the fictional research and development division of the British Secret Intelligence Service featured in the 007 franchise. However, a common criticism levelled at the cinematic escapades of James Bond is that his gadgets can become too outlandish, far-fetched and ridiculous. But is this a fair complaint? Or is the real world sometimes as extraordinary as the one occupied by 007 and his reliable Quartermaster? And so, From HLK With Love, in this blog we look at four patents for inventions that may or may not share some similarities with gadgets from the Bond films.
Gadget: Laser watch
Use in film: James Bond uses the watch to emit a high intensity laser beam to cut through the floor of a train and escape before the train explodes.
Patent: A laser projection watch, comprising “a light source part and a light scanning part; the light source part is for emitting a red, green and blue laser”. The watch also contains a mirror to deflect the laser beam and project it onto a surface. An image can be formed by controlling the light intensity of the laser beam. The watch was designed to be used as a small and simple information sharing tool.
Difference: The laser emitted by the laser projection watch is not powerful enough to cut through any material, and certainly not the floor of a train.
Q – Rating: 001 / 007
Conclusion: Clearly Q was busy working on other, more extreme gadgets.
Gadget: Explosive pen
Use in film: a henchman unknowingly initiates the 4-second fuse on the hidden explosive by clicking the top of the pen three times. The pen then explodes near some oil barrels, causing the lair of James Bond’s nemesis to go up in flames.
Patent: A firearm, such as a gun or rifle, appropriate for “simulating the appearance of and capable of being carried on the person in the same manner as a fountain pen”.
Difference: The objective of the invention is to conceal a normal firearm as a pen, unlike the gadget which instead conceals an explosive within a pen.
Q – Rating: 003 / 007
Conclusion: Heading the right way, but not quite up to scratch for MI6’s gadget-master.
Gadget: Palm print gun
Use in film: A henchman tries unsuccessfully to shoot James Bond with the gun but his palm print is rejected. Shortly afterwards, the henchman (and the gun) is eaten by a Komodo dragon.
Patent: A gun unlocking control method and the gun itself. The unlocking method requires that the “biological characteristic information of a user is collected through a biological characteristic collection module arranged on the surface of the gun”. In one embodiment, the biometric collection module is located on the handle of the firearm and the biometric information collected is the palm print information of the user. The biological information must be a match to prestored biological characteristic information.
Difference: The unlocking method described in the patent also requires the current position information of the gun as the gun must be within an authorised range. No such geographical limitation is placed on James Bond!
Q – Rating: 005 / 007
Conclusion: Getting warm.
Use in film: James Bond escapes his pursuers by piloting the jet-pack from the roof of a château to his Aston-Martin DB5.
Patent: A rocket propulsion system for lifting an individual from the ground and propelling them to a remote spot. The propulsion system was designed to be quickly installed and removed by the user and also “capable of being utilized by the average soldier with an absolute minimum of training”. The invention intended to provide a “safe, reliable and easily controllable rocket propulsion system having sufficient total impulse to lift and propel an individual for distances up to approximately two or three miles”. However, in practice, the flying time was limited to approximately 20 seconds.
Difference: The patent differs from the gadget because…, oh, hold on, no it does not differ from the gadget at all because they are identical! This invention, the Bell Rocket Belt, was actually worn by Sean Connery, and also his stuntman who performed the daring flight seen at the beginning of the film.
Q – Rating: 007/007
Conclusion: Clearly Q is an uncredited inventor on this patent!
There we have it! Sometimes the real world is stranger than fiction. Patent attorneys know this better than most, because they have A View To A Patent every day. Attorneys are not secret agents like James Bond, but they have studied hard to earn a Licence to Patent. They have a wealth of knowledge and understand it would be incorrect to say that Patents Are Forever. They can offer great advice, like You Only Patent Twice if you wish to file a divisional application. And whilst litigators would be out of a job if everyone just agreed to Live and Let Patent, they would never want people to get discouraged and Invent Another Day. Quite the opposite, there is No Time to Patent like the present.
And if we want to continue watching 007 serve his country faithfully, always armed to the teeth with the latest tech, then hopefully Q, and anyone with an innovative idea in their mind, understands to seek out great attorneys to gain the best protection possible for their inventions.
For Your Patents Only.