A few days ago I took my four-year old daughter to get a flu shot. As a reward for being brave and not crying (too much) the nurse gave her a puzzle-toy called a Tangle(R). Turns out it was patented in 1985 (US 4509929) by Richard Zawitz. There are several interesting things about this toy. First, it has one of the least descriptive patent titles I've seen since the Koosh ball: "Annular support device with pivotal segments". Second, prior to filing a patent application, Zawitz filed several copyright registrations under the title "Zawitz tangle ornamental sculpture". Finally, in 1993 Zawitz was granted a design patent (D334,416) on the individual segments that make up the toy.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.