June 16, 2006

On June 6th, the Crowd in a Box Corporation of Grover Beach, California, was awarded its third patent on a crowd-simulating apparatus. U.S. Patent No. 7,056,184, entitled “Inflatable humanoid forms,” describes an apparatus “comprising one or more inflatable three-dimensional humanoid figures for use in background scenes associated with still photography, motion pictures and video productions which are low in cost, lightweight, easy to use, easy to store, easy to transport and provides a greater range of viewing angles.” The independent claim of the patent covers a “three-dimensional apparatus for use in simulating a crowd of real people” comprising head, neck, and torso members, all with an inter-connected air-tight inner surface. The claim also includes “one or more narrow tubular sections” situated between the adjacent humanoid figures allowing for all of the connected humanoids to be inflated from one location. The humanoids, according to the claim, “when placed in adjacent stadium or auditorium style seating, simulates a crowd of real people viewing the particular event in the foreground scene when visually recorded in a manner that does not capture a clear image of the plurality of inflatable life-sized humanoid figures as compared to the foreground scene.” This patent discusses the then-current state of the art, which comprised cardboard two-dimensional props, having the noted disadvantages of being “heavy, relatively inflexible, difficult to transport, time consuming to install and remove,” and further noting that they “are susceptible to wet or windy weather conditions” and provided a limited field of view, as when cameras (still or movie) are moved, the props would also need to be moved so that the backing/unfinished sides would not appear in the final video or still product. The Crowd in a Box Corporation website includes product demonstrations, photographs, and video clips of how its inflatable crowd products can be used.

U.S. Patent No. 7,056,184: LINK
Crown in a Box Corporate Website: LINK
Fig. 1 Image: LINK

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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