Back in 2006, Ignacio Marc Asperas sent the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office a 25-page application titled "Apparatus for facilitating the construction of a snow man/woman." Earlier this month the Office finally approved his application, and starting this winter Asperas will begin suing everyone who builds snowmen without his permission.

Just kidding! Asperas has announced no such plans. If anything, his application serves as a how-to of sorts, with tips on how to roll symmetrical snow balls and build arms, "snow shoulders," and other snowman body parts. "I do not pretend that the ultimate Snow Man will be as revolutionary to the advancement of mankind [as the wheel], but I do contend that as far as I know no one has ever conceived and reduced to practice such an apparatus," he writes.

Some of the drawings included in U.S. patent 8,011,991 B2 are pretty confusing: Figure 2B suggests that snowmen are made of brick, Figure 2C looks like a blob invading the personal boundaries of a row of municipal planters, and Figure 8A's display of what are presumably snowman appliques seems to include a snow bra (806) and a, um, snowval (810). But there are also cute pictures of snowmen that you can print out and color, as well as diagrams of snow pets. Because snowmen need warmth and affection just like any other man (though not too much warmth, or they begin to melt). [Free Patents Online, via TechDirt]