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Inventing of the Bra - A Hoax

Another amusing story is about one of the most famous hoaxes: The fictional character of Otto Titzling allegedly being the inventor of the brassiere (bra) as depicted in the 1971 book Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling, published by Macdonald in London, and by Prentice-Hall in the USA.

The story goes like this: Otto invented a female breast support after watching divas at the opera being impeded by the volume of her breasts. In her bedroom, Otto finally convinced a diva to try on his invention not knowing that patent thief, Phillip DeBrassiere, lurked under the diva's bed. The diva was excited, stored the supporting device in her closet, and later that night Phillip stole it. He made a fortune out of it, outsourced manufacturing to Taiwan and named the supporting device after himself "Bra".

As a matter of fact, Otto Titzling made it not only into Trivial Pursuit which fell for the gag, but also into the 1988 movie Beaches comprising the song "Otto Titzling" sung by Bette Midler (full lyrics):

Otto arose from his workbench triumphant. Yes! he had invented the worlds first Over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder. [...] Was none other than the very worst Of the french patent thieves, Phillip DeBrassiere [...] I can have all the goods manufactures in Taiwan. The result of this swindle is pointedly clear: Do you buy a Titsling or do you buy a Brassiere?

A great example how different aspects of Intellectual Property are addressed in fiction: inventions made by solving a real problem, trademarking the invented product, industrial spying, and outsourcing of manufacturing (i.e. licensing).

Obviously, supporting devices similar in function to today's bras are known for ages while according to my researches the word brassière was put into the Oxford dictionary only in 1911, so at least the concept of prior art was entirely neglected in this hilarious hoax.

For those interested in stories like this, I can recommend the following book:

Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language by Patricia T. O'Conner, Stewart Kellerman Random House Publishing Group, 05.05.2009

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