The Anti-Eating Face Mask

Presaging Silence of the Lambs by over a decade, the Anti-Eating Face Mask remains uncomfortably timely in our mask-obsessed era.

USP 4,344,424, FIG. 1
Notice the lock.

The mask “does not interfere with transmission of speech or breathing by the user and which may be locked in place on the user’s head to prevent removal while at the same time permitting removal under emergency conditions.” What does “emergency removal” mean? Well, “[U]nder emergency conditions, the strap 26 may be cut and the face mask M of the invention removed.”

Now, I am not sure anyone is going to be locking such a thing onto their own heads. That suggests that the invention is even creepier than it first appears, as someone else is holding the key.

I unfortunately do not have access to the prosecution history of the device, so I cannot say whether dog muzzles were considered as relevant prior art.

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