11 of America's Most Inspiring Cup Holder Patents

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Imagine this scenario, if you will: You are enjoying a refreshing cup of Mr. Pibb topped with Diet Mountain Dew—an American classic. Ahh, that tastes good, doesn't it? In your other hand is your cell phone, from which you are distributing this story on social media. Life seems almost perfect until, all of a sudden...a frisbee appears in the distance. It's heading right for you, and failure to catch it will make you a laughing stock to the group of tough-looking pre-teens who have just crested over a nearby hill.

You put the phone in your pocket to free one hand so you can catch the frisbee. Phew, that was close—but look out! A Rosie O'Donnell Show-era Koosh ball comes hurdling at your face. You have no choice but to put down your beverage if you want to catch both objects, but how is this possible? You are standing on a gradient and the cup will tip over. Panic grips you...unless this imaginary situation is occurring in America. Because if it is, there is undoubtedly a cup holder nearby to cradle your drink and save the day. And that's no accident—for decades, American inventors have been at the forefront of cup holder technology, building a world where you never have to worry about not having a place to put your Mr. Pibb and Diet Dew. Let's take a look at some of the most inspiring and imaginiative examples of these inventions from files of the U.S. Patent Office.

1. Luggage Cup Holder (Self-Leveling)

Patent registration number: US7510157 B2

Application excerpt: "In the context of modern travel and business, what is needed is a self-leveling cup holder that can be removably affixed to a piece of wheeled luggage in a way that both the fixing and the removal can be accomplished quickly and easily and can be easily stored when not in use."

What makes it great: Travel dehydration is the number one cause of dehydrated travelers. Having a refreshment at the ready is the only way to combat this, but, unfortunately, even the most modern airport terminals and train stations and bus depots lack the 2:1 cup holder-to-human ratio thirst-quenchologists recommend. This invention lets you affix a swaying cup holder on the most sturdy thing in the world: the retractable handle of a rolling carry-on bag.

2. Luggage Cup Holder (Non-Self-Leveling)

Patent registration number: US20130126686 A1

Application excerpt: "Travelers are frequently seen walking through an airport or other location wheeling carry-on luggage with one hand, and personal items or a beverage drink container in the other hand."

What makes it great: It addresses the same problems cup holder number one does, but this invention is geared towards the sedentary, immobile traveler.

3. Crib Cup Holder

Patent registration number: US20140197286 A1

Application excerpt: "In order to allow a toddler's access to a Sippy cup at all times throughout an evening, it is not uncommon for a parent or a caregiver to leave the Sippy cup in a toddler's bedding area. This can however, often lead to soaked sheets from spills from the Sippy cup."

What makes it great: Infants are world-renowned for their hand-eye coordination and ability to responsibly put things back from where they got them. This cup holder is a must for new parents.

4. Body-Mounted Cup Holder

Patent registration number: US6029938 A

Application excerpt: "The invention is a cup holder attached to a person's thigh, so that a person's hands may be kept free for other tasks."

What makes it great: Our thighs are nature's movie theater armrests, and this cup holder finally takes advantage of that fact.

5. Belt Buckle Cup Holder

Patent registration number: US20120298703 A1

Application excerpt: "A primary object of the invention is to provide a belt buckle with a retractable cup-holder that is virtually indistinguishable from a typical ornamental belt buckle, such as the popular western style belt buckle, when the cup-holder feature is not in use, so as to increase the cosmetic appeal of the device."

What makes it great: Belt buckles and cup holders are the Stockton and Malone of groin-level refreshment.

6. Belt-Clip Cup Holder (Non-Retractable)

Patent registration number: US6457616 B2

Application excerpt: "The present invention generally relates to beverage holders. and more particularly, to a free-hanging beverage container holder assembly that easily and conveniently attaches to a person's belt."

What makes it great: The convenience of cup holders meets the high-fashion elegance of cell phone belt clips.

7. Toilet Stall Cup Holder

Patent registration number: US5934637 A

Application excerpt: "Patrons of casinos who play the slot machines often walk around the casino with a cup that holds coins which they use to play the machines and/or have won from the machines. Coat hooks can generally be found in any bathroom stall; however, any other type of holder usually cannot be found within the stall. Furthermore, coin cup holders mounted on the stall wall are unknown."

What makes it great: A Vegas original, this versatile invention can accommodate a cup of liquid or money (or both!) inside of a toilet stall.

8. Urinal Cup Holder

Patent registration number: US20060143822 A1

Application excerpt: "This invention is simply a drink beverage coaster that is specifically meant to attach to the common urinal flush valve top cap...This invention snaps over the top cap allowing for easy removal for maintenance of the flush valve and may be put back on easily to accommodate those who have a beverage in hand at the urinal allowing for hands free operation of said bodily functions at the urinal without losing one's drink."

What makes it great: By having a drink at the ready while using a urinal, you could conceivably create a closed circuit of refreshment, meaning you'd never have to leave. And why would you want to!?

9. Pool noodle cup holder

Patent registration number: US20120068028 A1

Application excerpt: "Pool noodles, commonly 2-4 inches in diameter, are often used by swimmers and boaters to provide recreational flotation while floating in the water. While floating on a pool noodle, a user often holds a beverage in a hand. Combining a pool noodle with a detachable beverage holder frees up a user's hands and provides a convenient location for storing a beverage holder."

What makes it great: Pool noodles are unwieldy pliant foam tubes of unpredictability—meaning they're perfect for balancing drinks upon.

10. Umbrella Cup Holder

Patent registration number: US7275668 B1

Application excerpt: "An umbrella/cup holder device for allowing the user to carry other things while using an umbrella to protect oneself from inclement weather."

What makes it great: Don't let rain scuttle your commute. Just strap on your umbrella vest, tighten the harness, and slide a delicious can of pop into its cup holder. When you get to your destination, just reverse the process and conveniently store the entire sopping wet unit out of sight.

11. Wearable Cup Holder(???)

Patent registration number: US6739933 B2

Application excerpt: "The wearable drink holder apparatus includes an animal-shaped body member having an interior compartment for securely encasing a drink container therewithin. Elongated support straps shaped as grasping animal limbs are utilized to attach the animal-shaped body member to a wearer's body. A protuberance member formed in the shape of an animal face extends from the top of and approximately centrally aligned with the body member. The protuberance member includes an interior cavity through which a drinking conduit extends from the drink container to the exterior of the protuberance member toward the wearer's face."

What makes it great: To be frank, this cup holder is making me mightily uncomfortable. Still, this is a free forum of ideas, and if you want nightmare bear to maul your child with refreshment, no one is stopping you.