The romance book publisher Harlequin wants to patent kissing, if only to publicize the lost of art of lip-locking, says the company's "chief kissing officer" in an interview.
Last week, Harlequin filed an unusual patent wit the U.S. Patent Office: "the essential romantic kiss."
Outlined in a seven-page application, the patent request goes into great detail about what makes a kiss romantic and saucy, even including several diagrams of various embraces. But don't worry, Harlequin isn't taking this patent too seriously; instead, it's a way to promote their brand, the act of kissing and a new contest.
So why try to patent smooching? Why Harlequin?
"If anyone knows kissing, it's us," says Michelle Renaud, senior manager of public relations for Toronto-based Harlequin aka Chief Kissing Officer. "The kiss is the cornerstone of romance, it brings people together in relationships."
Harlequin should know a thing or two about kissing. It publishes 110 romance books a month, Renaud says, and practically all of them include kissing in some way. "Romance is a genre that will never die," she declares after being asked about book publishing's challenges.
The patent is filled with intricate details of Harlequin's ideal kiss.
One figure depicts the kissers "in the process of deploying the orbicularis oris O, to position the lips in a pucker shape in preparation for the Kiss."
It's obvious Harlequin doesn't take itself too seriously. In the portion about the "seal" of a kiss, the patent explains how long it should last: "somewhere between a peck and an attempt to set a Guinness World Record."
Renaud says she doesn't expect the patent to be approved. Rather, it's away to add some romance to the kiss. "We want to bring attention back to kissing," she says.
Also, Harlequin wants to publicize its kissing-related contest too with this patent. From now until March 30, North Americans can create their own kiss using Harlequin's site. Selecting avatars and positioning limbs and lips will allow you to create a custom kiss, with the hope other people vote on your kiss. The winner receives a trip for two to Las Vegas on New Year's Eve.
But what if Harlequin does succeed with its patent? Renaud laughs it off, saying they'll likely donate the idea to the Creative Commons license, giving everybody the freedom to kiss whomever and however they like.