Monday, June 29, 2009

Not Exactly Thomas Edison, But ...

A lot of odd details about the life of the late Michael Jackson have been cropping up in the days since he died and went to Neverland, sparking one of the largest increases in Internet traffic since Al Gore first told Mr. Watson to "come here, I want you."

For instance, who knew that the King of Pop was an inventor with a patent under his name?

I didn't, but now I do.

According to UnBeige, Jackson invented a kind of gravity-defying footwear:

That's right, intellectual property fans, Jackson is listed as the first of three inventors on United States Patent 5,255,452, granted in 1993 for a "method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion." Translation: special loafers fitted with heels that can slot into the stage floor to allow the wearer to lean forward, Smooth Criminal style, at gravity-defying angles.

According to the patent's abstract, the Jackson-devised system relies on "a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface. The shoes have a specially designed heel slot which can be detachably engaged with the hitch member by simply sliding the shoe wearer's foot forward, thereby engaging with the hitch member." Jackson co-developed the technique as an improvement upon a previous method in which he and his dancers were rigged up with harnesses and cables.
What's more, UnBeige continues, Jackson's invention is also mentioned as an "antecedent" in a patent application for another highly useful gadget:
...another footwear innovation, patent 7,380,349. Granted last year, it covers flip-flops that have a bottle-opene[r] in the footbed. Perfect when you Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' but are ill prepared.
I guess you could call this a "footnote" to Michael Jackson's life.

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