Necessity: invention… sample problem

I just came home from the patent quality update forum at the NC bar center (a forthcoming post will include details, and/or slides from the presenters). As I walked into my closet to hang up my suit, I stumbled upon one of life’s many persistent problems in a field of art that beg invention of a solution.

When one takes off a suit, the coat is almost always removed before the pants. Taking off one’s pants first would require holding the coat apart and reaching under the coat to unfasten the belt and multiple buttons. Wearing the coat while bending over to lower the pants and  stepping out of the pants, limits movement to perform those steps (Also, come to think of it, it is even more awkward to put on a suit coat before putting on a suit-pants).

Hanging a suit typically locates the coat on a single hanger designed to support both the coat and pants. Suit-hangers, like a person intending to wear a suit, also is adapted to receive pants first, and then receive a coat. A coat is large and has significant structure that shouldn’t be folded, while suit pants can typically be neatly collapsed flat, and then folded over a lower bar of a triangulated hanger-frame. Therefore, a suit can be neatly hung up on the single hanger by folding the pants, holding a hanger up while inserting the pants and folding them neatly in half so that they hang from the lower bar, and then, hanging the coat on the upper parts of the hanger, with the length of the coat hanging approximately no further than the length of the folded pants.

Surely you have spotted the problem. If I take off my coat, in order to have a hanger that is not obstructed by a coat, so that I can insert the removed pants, I have to give the coat a temporary position, while I remove the pants and hang those on the hanger. If I hang the coat on the hanger first, then removing the pants and folding them in half requires me to hold the coat open while inserting the pants. Doing so creates the number of issues. First, parting a coat enough to insert folded pants, while the coat hangs from a hanger held in my hand, risks the coat slipping off the hanger entirely, and falling to the ground. Second, neatly folding pants is difficult to do while holding a coat on a hanger. I suppose that I could hang the coat on the hanger, on a curtain rod or door handle, while folding the pants, but that presumes that I have a place to hang the hanger. Imagine a need to change out of the suit (or into a suit) in a gas station bathroom, for instance. third, even if I am able to hang the coat on the hanger, and able to hold it open while inserting pants that I folded while holding the hanger, I now have to insert the neatly folded pants without them becoming crumpled up, and defeating the purpose of having neatly-folded-them.

Therefore, it is a persistent problem in the yard that hangers are not able to facilitate receiving a coat and pants (or dispense them), without requiring a would-be-suit-wearer (or -disrober) to support either the coat or the pants upon a third surface/object or limb, before applying them to the hanger (or fitting-them-to-his-person), such that the pants are supported (or fitted) before the coat is also supported by the hanger (or fitted upon the body of the person to which the pants are also to-be fitted.

Now, feel free to tell me what you would do.

I am sure that there are solutions in the art. Some don’t even require a search. Consider hanging the pants on one hanger, and the coat on another, and then simply slotting the hanger that is carrying the pants into the coat, such that both hangers hang under the suit coat. Certainly, there are also hangers designs to receive pants upon one type of hanger that is designed to fasten-to an otherwise-ordinary coat hanger, for the coat, or one which is generally ordinary, but-for some sort of fastener or attachment or feature that is adapted to receive such a pants-appending-hanger.

But clearly those two options have limitations that make them inferior to a unitary hanger. Two hangers inside of a coat, where they simply are supported by a common supporting element (such as a hooker curtain rod), can shift with respect to one another, and they may come apart, and in doing so, perhaps the pants -hanger causes the coach to shift on its own hanger, misaligning it, or even knocking it off of that first hanger. A hanger for the pants which hangs from what is otherwise a relatively-ordinary coat-hanger makes the suit-pants combination an object with two independently-moving centers of gravity. Slinging around a coat on a typical hanger, while a pants-hanger hangs below it, may not constrain the motion of the pants-hanger very well, and the pants may be more likely to slip from the hanger, perhaps falling to the ground. Also, if the pants are held at some lower position, because of the dedicated pants-hanger hanging-from the approximate lower-edge of the typical hanger, then the overall length of the pants-coat combination should be larger, perhaps consuming more vertical closet space.

Therefore, it is desirable that an invention to solve this problem also provide a solution that has the integrated, singular-center of gravity (or unified single-degree of freedom, etc) of a conventional hanger. It is also desirable that an invention to solve this problem  provides a solution that consumes a  length which is approximately the same as that of a conventional hanger.

That’s enough for now. Go ahead and run with that. Search it casually, or perhaps doodle what you would do, and then search it for yourself, to see if someone else has beaten you to it. GOOD LUCK!

A search hint?

Try searching US Patent Classification 223/85

That is where the patent office classifies several inventions which can be described as:

Apparel apparatus: garment hangers.

Try it here:

Type: 223/85 into the box next to “current U.S. Classification.

Or …you can just go to that search directly: