Several years ago I purchased a tool for maintaining strings of lights that contains this device along with a bulb tester and failed lamp detector. It is made of red and green plastic and has been sold for at least five years at walgreen's and WalMart. Perhaps that's why it the patent application was rejected, as it should have been. Brian Bailey should be more diligent in his research.
More prior art - my string winder (a crank to turn guitar tuning machines rapidly) has a similar U shaped slot for prying string retention pegs out of their holes behind the bridge. But recently I found the slot was worn out and the pegs had been in place for so long they would not budge.
Did not want to use pliers, they would deface the plastic ball knobs on the tops of the pegs. But I found a neat gadget that did the job superbly and now I think I will patent it as a "Peg Puller".
The gadget is an 8 inch long steel rod with a wood handle at one end and is split into 2 flat ridged tines at the other. With a little bit of pressure these tines slipped around and gripped the retention pegs perfectly, slight leverage easily pried them loose.
I found this gadget in the kitchen drawer. But I don't think I will tell the patent examiner that it is really a Fondue Fork...
The Patent Clerk that approved it most likely has a quota of something like 100 applications a week to review, and the pile of new applications gets bigger before it ever gets smaller.
The attitude at the USPTO seems to be, for quite some years now, to approve anything that can't immediately be rejected by a quick prior art search, and just let them all fight it out in court.
Of course it's obvious and there is prior art. Look at the back end of a hammer, (the nail remover "U"). Prior art and obvious use. The Patent Clerk that approved this should be fired for being lazy in not researching prior art well.
I bet the nail remover end of the hammer could even be used to remove the bulb, thereby rendering this patented item worthless in the marketplace, as anyone could just use their hammer to pull out the old light bulbs.
At least that guy came up with something that would actually work (it's not another perpetual motion machine) and which some people might find useful.
Years ago, a former manager of mine joked about the idea of writing a software tool called PatentCAD, which would automate the process of creating new patents out of old ones, with almost no thought or interaction required by the user.
You can imagine something like this:
private decimal PatentValue()
foreach (Patent oldPatent in PatentOffice.Patents)
newPatent = oldPatent.Clone();
//here is the inovative part!!!!!!
newPatent.Text += " with a computer.";
You could imagine many other phrases that could substitute for "with a computer".
Too bad he never wrote PatentCAD. He could've made a fortune simply by tweaking old patents with the new innovative add-on phrase, or by combining 2 or more patents plus the particular innovative add-on phrase "integrated into a single microcircuit."