Inventor claims legitimate use for his license plate flipper

Matt Richardson says: "I've never seen a license plate flipper before, have you? From the video's description: 'This is meant to be used off road or show room for show cars and not meant for use to avoid red light camera or avoid toll camera.'"

(Via Boing Boing G+ community)


  1. “…and definitely NOT AT ALL MEANT for getaway vehicles, even though this fine, reasonably priced product could very well save you from doing hard time for that next bank heist.”

    1. Umm, I don’t think you understand how copyright works. It’s questionable whether or not the license plate flipper on Bond’s Astin Martin would even count as prior art. Almost certainly it wouldn’t pose a detriment during the normal patent process.

      1. Maybe you’re right. It really wasn’t actually my point though, which was aimed at the whole “originality” thing.

        Point was, it’s not “new.” If somebody has actually brought the concept into the real world, then “good for them”. No detriment, or argument.

        Hmm, I guess that makes it “new”….I’ll shut up and watch where this goes.

        1. I recently worked on some patents at my work. I spent a lot of time with the patent lawyers learning what kind of information they were looking for. The prior art stuff will blow your mind. Forget what you think the prior art for your invention is. Get in the head of the non-technically trained patent office employment, search their database of patents for things they think are relevant. They have no industry knowledge and would never think about a James Bond movie with a similar device – or for that matter another company that had actually produced the exact same device. They won’t know that half of the auto industry has already built this thing and half of America owns one already. Instead, they will pull up, say, a patent for a pancake flipper from 1980 and tell you that is prior art. It is pure insanity. And then you do 10 rounds of back and forth with the patent office trying to show that a pancake flipper is not prior art. It is extremely expensive to pay the lawyers for all this bs.

          1. “It is extremely expensive to pay the lawyers for all this bs.”That, my friend, is the point of most lawyering.  Billable hours.

          2. Actually, the patent lawyers I worked with were the coolest lawyers I ever met. Apparently, most patent lawyers, are, like them, engineers by training, and then they get additional schooling in lawyering. These guys were full-time employees of a large company, so there wasn’t really an advantage to them to drag out the patent process, since they didn’t bill by the hour.

            From what I gathered, it is the patent office that keeps this whole process going on so long. They are just completely clueless about engineering and will go round and round about something forever without any idea of what they are talking about. But you still have to respond and engage in order to get your patent. 

            Most people will try to get very broad patents to start off with, because obviously if you can get a patent like that it is very valuable. Imagine if you were able to, say, patent a bicycle instead of just, say, the chain or a very specific type of chain. However, usually you will overshoot the mark and the patent office will tell you that you need to narrow the scope of the patent down. I was told that if you get the patent on the first try, you did it wrong because it means you didn’t make the patent broad enough.

            The process takes a long time. I’ve been watching one patent that is relevant to our industry that has been in the patent process for 10 years and still there is no final determination on this patent. Actually, it looks like it will be shot down – imagine the money that company has put into this one patent they will not get. Now you know why the process favors large companies and not the individual inventor. 

            If they do get the patent, there’s a brief window of time when other people can come in and contest the patent. 

    1. or buy two, in many States. 

      They would be fun for Cruise Nights where all the old cars park along the side of the road.  No need for State vanity plates saying “67STANG” when a custom job would be much less expensive (assuming a $45 plate flipper from the auto parts store).  Hook it up to the accelerator (or built-in accelerometer) to make sure the correct plate flips on for street use.

  2. KITT had an awesome license plate holder that could be rotated to hide any distinctiveness of the automobile whatsoever.

    KNIGHT –> KNI 667

        1. I’ll grant you that, but try singing “the guy across the street from the Beast” as an Iron Maiden lyric. I did – it wasn’t pretty.

  3. Bootleggers were doing something similar 60-70 years ago. with two license plates, a hinge and a piece of wire run from the driver’s seat.

  4. Some new cars – for example, a Lotus Elise – come without front license plates, likely due to the facts that they interfere with the lines of the low front ends and they aren’t required in all states. You could buy -at least for a while – a device that would tip and slide the plate under the front bumper/dam when desired.

    But this gadget has a lot less to do with style and a lot more to do with deception. I suppose the usage for show is a somewhat lame excuse. If you’re preparing a vehicle for show, you’ve got plenty of time to put on custom plates.

    1.  My state doesn’t require front license plates, and never has.  As far as I can see there are only three reasons for them…

      1) you live in a total surveillance police state where no expenditure on looking up license plates can ever be too great

      2) you want to help all those lovely oil billionaires continue to wreck the planet, so increasing the sales of petroleum by messing with vehicle aerodynamics is a win

      3) criminals in your area always escape the scene of their crimes by driving (slowly) away in reverse, and your tricycle-mounted, unarmed, radioless police thus can’t catch or identify the dastards

      Empirically, they are stupid and unnecessary.  We have had zero crimes, accidents or criminal escapes that have resulted from a lack of front plates.

      So I was pretty pissed off when my new Plug-in Prius was delivered from Maryland, and the parochial knuckleheads there had drilled the front bumper for plates without even asking first.

      1. Really?  You’re that incensed about the existence of front license plates?  Here’s what you do: go to one of those customizing shops and get a cute one with flowers that says heart-CHARLEE-heart. 

        Glad I could help.

        1.  Nah, I’m not upset about the existence of front license plates, I’m childishly peeved that the car dealer ran two huge self-tapping screws into my front bumper.  I can either have two ugly divots in the otherwise pristine and shiny front end, or I can lose some infinitesimal increment of gas efficiency.  For no damn reason!  My last Prius was pristine for nearly a week before I spilled beer on the back seat; this one came pre-damaged.

          grumble grumble grumble cars that waste less gas and pollute less aren’t cheap, you know – the Bush/Obama subsidies for heavyweight gas guzzlers make the tax credit I might qualify for for being public spirited look pretty damn weak grumble grumble grumble.

      2. I hate front plate requirements too, especially when they have to block an air intake or just ruin the lines, but there are several “legitimate” reasons for them: 1) Lazy meter maids don’t have to walk around to the back to read your plate, 2) they’re a perfect target for LIDAR guns, and 3) a lot of red-light/tollbooth cameras are set up to shoot vehicles from the front so the driver is visible in the photo.

      3. How about “you work in a gas station, when someone pulls in nose-first you can’t see their rear plate, and when they drive off without paying the angle of the front window is wrong for spying their rear plate as they turn.” I have in fact personally witnessed at least half a dozen petty criminals “escaping” (i.e. evading a sternly worded bill delivered to their address of record) due to lack of front plates.

        Alternately, “Jesus Christ, have we as a society actually reached the point where front license plates are something worth getting incensed about, WTF.”

        1.  Re-read, or read my reply to boundegar.  I really don’t give a damn about your issues, since y’all are being so vocal about how much you don’t give a damn about my damaged car.

          Also, why does the non-criminal public have to bear the cost of your employer’s inability to design or operate a gas station correctly?   I worked in gas stations for more than five years and not once had that problem, because the station owners weren’t so incredibly stupid as to create it (or fail to fix it).

        1. Yeah, that’s actually a really good point.  It’s pretty strongly related to point #1, though – systematic prior restraint (such as stopping you from driving fast, because driving fast correlates with increased accidents, or stopping you from having children, because having children increases the number of famines) is the hallmark of the police state.

  5. I actually could see the hot rod/low rider crowd getting into this type of thing. It has just as much use as making your car hop or having ghost lights underneath (which, I secretly love! – I know it’s terrible).

  6. I can see the use for cars that participate in Auto Shows since a lot of people takes pictures of the cars and their plates without owner’s consent. One side legal license plate flip side vanity plate.

    1. Cars in auto shows have so much prep and detailing done before exhibition that swapping the street plate for something color-matching or advertising is a drop in the bucket effort-wise. The fancier trailer queens are often not even registered since they’re hardly ever driven, and certainly never on public roads.

      1. You are right but I was talking  more of the local auto shows the ones that you actually drive your car to the event and back.

  7. The problem is, once law enforcement become knowledgeable about this product and knows what to look for, you’ll need the upgrade:  a license plate flipper flipper, which returns your “license plate system” from a flippable one to a non-flippable one.

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