Because I’m a man with deep, disturbing problems, I was doing some research into taillights for an upcoming story when I found this patent. As a taillight fetishist, (if we were like Furries, we’d be called Taillies, but I don’t want to fuck a taillight) I was interested. I don’t think I was ready for the gloriously awful ideas inside, though.

The basic premise is fine. The patent is called Graphical Taillight System, and seems to be, fundamentally a taillight system that incorporates visual icons as well as just colored lights. That’s not necessarily a bad idea at all, right? I mean, maybe it involves octagonal stop icons, and arrow-shaped turn indicators, and that sort of thing.


Well, it does and it doesn’t. The system described seems wildly overcomplicated, but I just want to focus on the turn indicator portion, which is described, in crazy-making patent-speak, as:

When turning or signaling to turn with the signaling vehicle 12 the second light 44 may function in various manners, such as providing a constant illumination or blinking. In the preferred embodiment, a plurality of second lights 44 each positioned behind a respective second indicator 42 flash one after another, shining through each successive second indicator 42, toward the end of the second signaling portion 40 (i.e. outer tip of the arrow) in a sequential and continuous (i.e. keep going around and around) manner. In the preferred embodiment, the first in-line second indicator 42 won’t start to dim until the fourth in-line second indicator 42 starts to light. Likewise, the second in-line second indicator 42 won’t start to dim until the fifth in-line second indicator 42 starts to light. When all the lights 44 of the second indicators 42 are dim, the cycle will pause for a short duration (e.g. 2 seconds, etc.) before restarting.

So, it looks like he’s talking about sequential turn indicators? Okay, I’m down with that. And just in case you don’t understand the concept of sequential lights, here’s an eye-twitchingly frustrating description of how that works:

13. The method for conveying vehicle operations of claim 12, including an illuminating process of said plurality of spaced arrows comprising:illuminating a first sequential grouping of arrows in a sequential manner; then illuminating a next arrow after said first sequential grouping of arrows; while simultaneously causing a first arrow of said first sequential grouping of arrows to dim;forming a second sequential grouping of arrowing with said next arrow and said first sequential grouping of arrows minus said first arrow;continuing to form illuminated sequential grouping of arrows until a last arrow of said plurality of spaced arrows is illuminated; then dimming a first arrow of a last said sequential grouping of arrows; then continuing to sequentially dim arrows of said last sequential grouping of arrows until all arrows of said plurality of arrows are dim; then restarting said illuminating process of said plurality of spaced arrows.


Reading that sort of makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

Anyway, that’s not the issue. You can see the issue when you look at the drawings of the taillights, on what appears to be an early 2000s Jag. Look at the turn indicators:


Look at the arrow direction. The sequential turn indicating arrows, along with the little rear half of a car, for some reason, seem to be pointing in opposite directions of the side of the car they’re on. Can that be right? Is that what the inventor means?


I checked some of the alternate designs, like this one with the pointing hands, and yep, same thing. For some insane reason the inventor thinks that the best way to indicate a right turn is to flash a light on the left side of the vehicle and vice-versa.

Am I somehow reading these wrong? What the hell is going on? Can a human really think this is a good idea?


I feel like I’m going crazy here. Hold me.

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