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Pet Rock Inventor Dies

Robert E. Montgomery Invention News Leave a Comment

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On March 23, 2015, Gary Dahl, the inventor of the Pet Rock, passed away at age 78. Mr. Dahl never received a patent but was able to federally Trademark the “Pet Rock” name.

It was in 1975, during an economic recession and 9% unemployment, that Dahl created the first fad product to rival the 1950’s Hula Hoop craze. The inventor was working in Northern California as a freelance copyrighter barely making ends meet at the time. The idea of having a “pet” that required no walking, feeding or cleaning up after came to life while having drinks with friends.

Having a rock for a “pet” was perfect for the time. It was the must-have gift for Christmas 1975. The fad burned fast and hot and then was over in less than a year, but what a year it was. 1.5 million Mexican river rocks bought by Inventor Dahl for a penny a piece were sold nestled in a cardboard box for $3.95 retail. $3.95 during the 1975 recession would be worth $29.72 in 2015. Sounds like pretty good return on investment. Also packaged in the cardboard box were a set of instructions on how to care for the new “pet.”

The mid-70’s Pet Rock fad is a perfect example of how impossible it is for anyone to predict the future success or failure of any new product. Getting a product onto the market and selling is an inexact science.

Robert E. MontgomeryPet Rock Inventor Dies
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I Suspect a Patent Infringement. What Now?

Aaron Cramer Patent and Trademark Thoughts Leave a Comment

We’ve been getting a few requests lately for additional information about how our client’s should best proceed in a case of suspected patent infringement.  While each case is unique here are some general thoughts:

 

  1. Has my idea been stolen? Sometimes a client will find his or her utility or design patented or patent pending product available for sale (online on TV or both).  While this is certainly disconcerting, this does not mean somebody is profiting from your stolen your idea.  In all likelihood, the person selling the product similar to your invention is unaware your patent exists and/or has invented the same product contemporaneously with your invention.  This is almost certainly the case if your patent is still pending.  Pending patent information is maintained in secret by the USPTO so it is highly unlikely any competitor is aware of your particular pending patent.

 

  1. Why wasn’t this invention discovered by either Montgomery IP Associates, LLC or the USPTO during the prosecution of my patent application? Assuming that the invention at issue pre-dates your invention (which is not always the case) it is simply impossible to review every single patent or product for sale to ensure the uniqueness of your invention.  We do our very best as does the USPTO but no patent search can be 100% in scope.

 

  1. I’m confident the product I’ve found online infringes on my invention.  What do I do now? Questions of infringement are questions of fact and sometimes require the matter to be resolved in court – but this is not always the case.  Since we are patent prosecutors we do not participate in patent enforcement/infringement law.  Therefore, we generally recommend reaching out to the alleged offending company and discussing their product and whether they would like to work together via a licensing agreement.  This is usually the ideal solution as it costs the least and may prove mutually beneficial.  If you do not wish to proceed in this manner we recommend finding an infringement attorney in your area and schedule a time to consult with him or her.

 

While the above is merely a brief examination of some infringement issues it should serve as a helpful primer and alleviate some initial fears you may encounter after seeing your product for sale by someone other than you.  It might also be important to remember that there is a lot of room on American store shelves for competing products – most of which do the same thing and some of which are patented – so just because you have competition doesn’t mean you’ve been infringed against or that there is no longer a market for your product.

Aaron CramerI Suspect a Patent Infringement. What Now?
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Somebody Stole My Invention… Now What?

Neil E. Montgomery Patent and Trademark Thoughts Leave a Comment

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A couple of years ago I was heading to the PGA Show in Orlando, FL to meet with two different companies that were interested in licensing my invention and distributing it through major retail chains.

If you’ve never been to a national industry tradeshow before, it can be very overwhelming. I went a day early to figure out where everything was so I wasn’t rushing around before my meetings the following day. As I was wrapping up my day, I walked through the booth of one of the largest brands in the golf industry when laying on the floor right before my eyes was my exact invention.

Everything was the same… the size, the packaging, the cost and even the name was my original name for the product. How was this possible? I was convinced that somebody sold me out and gave my invention away. The product was invented in my basement and only close friends and family had ever seen it live.

The meetings the next day were a disaster as you would expect. The companies were no longer interested. I was furious. I lost all the time and money I spent on my invention. Even worse, I lost my invention and now a big corporation is going to get rich off of it. I was not about to take this lying down.

The first thing I did when I got back was had a Cease & Desist letter sent to the company. Well, a couple of days later the head of Marketing called from their company and read me the riot act. The Cease & Desist definitely got their attention and they were not happy in the least.

A couple of days later I received a voice message from their Intellectual Property counsel. I looked up the person and saw that he and his firm represent many big corporations and often appear on the Today Show for legal advice. I realized that I was a bit out of my league and reluctantly made the call back. He informed me that it did appear that I beat them with my patent filings and that I had priority rights.

He said that the company will sell through their inventory with my approval and they will not produce any additional units. So, I got what I wanted right? They stopped promoting and selling the invention.

Or… did I really get what I wanted? Would it have made more sense to contact them politely and work together on promoting the product? After all, they already started production so they obviously liked the idea. I had patent rights so it probably would have been easy to coordinate a licensing deal with them. Instead, I forced them out of the market which took me several years before I ever started selling any real volume.

In hindsight, I should have approached them much more amicably and left the attorneys out of the equation. My advice to others is to consider this experience if you see a similar product to yours and contact the owners directly. There is a high probability that they are unaware of your patent and would choose to work out a fair licensing deal with you.

Neil E. MontgomerySomebody Stole My Invention… Now What?
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Why Do I Have To Send In A Picture?

Jake Werkmeister Inventor Education Leave a Comment

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“Why do I have to send in a picture?”  As a product manager for For Sale By Inventor, I am asked this question on a daily basis by new inventors who are looking to protect their ideas.  It’s a fair question to be asked, and there are two primary reasons why a picture is useful in your Record of Invention form.

 

Firstly, a picture is worth a thousand words, and gives us the necessary information we need in order to determine IF a patent even applies to your idea as well as what type would be appropriate for your invention.  Furthermore, the picture allows us to verify that we understand your written description so that we have a better idea of what your idea is and how it works.  There is no such thing as a “cookie cutter patent”, so the more we know about your idea, the quicker we’ll be able to help you protect your idea.

 

Secondly, there are approximately 320 million people who currently live in the United States alone.  Meaning that there are about 320 million individual minds that have the potential to problem solve and invent.  Since March 16, 2013 the US has been using a “first to file” patent system.  As the name suggests, this system rewards a patent to the first inventor to file.  With hundreds of millions of people currently living in this country alone, plus the other 7 billion individuals who are also eligible for a US Patent, it’s inevitable that at least two of these people will stumble upon the same invention idea.  We’ve actually seen cases in which two inventors spread out in different parts of the country have submitted two very similar ideas within minutes of each other.

 

So how does this relate to a picture of your invention?  Simple.  If we went by descriptions alone, the aforementioned inventors had the same idea!  Meaning that the first inventor who submitted the idea over to us would receive the patent if they so chose to continue with the filing process.  However, upon receiving pictures of each idea, we were able to see that there were substantial differences between each invention which would allow both to receive a patent.  That’s fantastic news for the second inventor!

 

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “what good is the patent to each inventor if such a similar product may also receive a patent?”.  Well, the patent assures that the particular design of an invention is not infringed upon.  There are plenty of real world examples in which similar inventions have their own place in the free market.  A very good example would be the sleeved blanket.  You are probably familiar with The Snuggie, but may never heard of Snuggler, Doojo, Toasty Wrap, and Slanket.  Each of these is an alteration of the same idea with significant differences in design and material.  Each one is sold through different means, and each has been highly successful in it’s own market.  Most importantly, each is a unique design which has been protected so that nobody can just take the exact specifications and start selling their own version of the invention.


Now that we know the importance of the picture, you’re probably asking what type of picture you should send.  Well, if you have a prototype, a good photograph would be just fine.  If you haven’t built a working model yet, just sketch the idea out by hand.  A rough drawing that shows the basics of the invention’s design and function will be all that we will need in order to evaluate your idea.  So now that you have this knowledge, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to make your Record Of Invention form picture perfect!

Jake WerkmeisterWhy Do I Have To Send In A Picture?
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Why Choose For Sale By Inventor?

Neil E. Montgomery Inventor Education Leave a Comment

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Neil E. MontgomeryWhy Choose For Sale By Inventor?
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I Invented This Because…

Neil E. Montgomery Invention Ideas, Invention Marketing 3 Comments

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The reason we started this business is because we wanted to give inventors the best chance at seeing their dreams come to life. In 2015, we are asking each of you to think of why you came up with your invention. Maybe it was because you wanted to create a different life for you or your family or because you wanted to make the world better or safer.

We want to showcase you and your invention more moving forward. With this in mind, we are asking everyone to send in a picture with your invention, if possible, so we can include you on the website. There will be a new section – Real Inventors, Real Inventions – where you will be showcased. Try to take the best high resolution photo and we’ll get it up on the website to give your invention more exposure.

We’ll show you and your invention and why you invented your product to tell your story. At the heart of every big organization is people, if we can touch just one of them with your story – that might mean all the difference for your product.

Neil E. MontgomeryI Invented This Because…
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2015 Resolution: Transparency +Teamwork = More Inventions Sold

Neil E. Montgomery Invention News 2 Comments

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As 2014 comes to a close, it is a great time to reflect on how we got here and to make a plan on how we can do better for the upcoming year. 2014 saw an increase in licensing deals and an improvement in our operations. Our web presence became a dynamic new website that can be easily viewed on laptops, tablets and smart phones alike. The strengthened For Sale by Inventor website should bring in more licensing deals and products selling on the market in 2015.

I believe we have assembled the best team possible to give every inventor the best chance for their invention to succeed on the market. 2015 will also begin a new chapter as we are evaluating 3D printers to add to our services to bring inventions to life in a physical form affordably. Please contact our client service department if you would like to find out how you can get a 3D printed model of your invention.

Most importantly, we are thrilled to have you as a client and want to do everything we can for you to not only have a positive experience, but also to see results. 2015 will be a year where our focus is on total transparency. Inventors will be able to see the company contact people along with information on the companies we are contacting to double on our efforts as they wish. The goal has been, and will always be the same, to get your invention selling.

A company is only as strong as its people, both you the client and the people here who work hard on your inventions all year long. Take a moment to look through our new “Meet the Team” page so you can get to know the people here a little better. You’ll learn that we are real people, just like you, who share a passion for inventions.

Our goal will be to showcase you and your invention even more moving forward. With this in mind, we are asking everyone to send in a picture with your invention if possible so we can include you on the website. There will be a new section – Real Inventors, Real Inventions – where you will be showcased. Try to take the best high resolution photo and we’ll get it up on the website to give your invention more exposure.

In closing the year, know that it is a privilege and a joy to serve you and here’s wishing you all of the success you desire in the New Year!

Neil E. Montgomery2015 Resolution: Transparency +Teamwork = More Inventions Sold
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Resolve to Apply “Due Diligence” to Improve My Invention in 2015

Jeff Smith Patent and Trademark Thoughts, Patent Engineering, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

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Many of our clients come to us with an elemental description of a device they believe would be beneficial. They have been thinking about, and maybe even “doodling” on their idea for some time now. This is how most inventions start out, but the inventions which result in strong patent protection, are the result of persistent work and development after the initial “idea” is hatched.

Many times, we recommend a Provisional Patent Application be filed with the patent office. A Provisional Patent Application allows our client a year to apply “due diligence”, as the patent law refers to it. This is a process of “fleshing out” an idea. This entails further work and actions on the part of the inventor such as sketching out a physical design, identifying major piece parts, building one or more prototypes, performing testing, and even doing some initial marketing of their invention.

This one-year period has been granted by the Federal government to improve the likelihood of the invention’s success and usefulness, as well as to provide time to prepare a “build and use” description of the invention, which is required for each patent application.

In conclusion, don’t let the patent pending year go by without taking your invention up to the next level!

Jeff SmithResolve to Apply “Due Diligence” to Improve My Invention in 2015
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It’s Time To Give Thanks

Robert E. Montgomery Invention Ideas Leave a Comment

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It is nice that every year that we set aside at least one day to reflect upon our many blessing and give thanks.  For the United States, it’s the last Thursday in November, while our Canadian neighbors celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.  But it doesn’t really matter when we say thanks, as long as we take a moment.

Like many families, we each expressed our thanks at the supper table before digging into our feast.  My answer was “Hugs!”  Being a six-time grandfather, I can think of nothing better than getting hugs.  Other family members mentioned “good health” which is unquestionably high on the list along with “the family” all around one table.

After listening to everyone around the table, I thought of the many things that inventors have given us over the years that we take for granted but for which we should say “thank you.”  Some inventions that make our lives easier are: In-Door Plumbing – because who wants to go to an outhouse? Electricity – how would civilization exist without turning something on? Medicine – many terrible diseases have been eradicated and more are becoming controlled every day. Cars, Planes & Trains – no longer are we restricted to the 20 miles or so that horse could travel in day.  And that’s just a start.

We all have so much to be thankful for the inventions that make our lives more enriching.

Robert E. MontgomeryIt’s Time To Give Thanks
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On The Market By Christmas

Robert E. Montgomery Invention Marketing Leave a Comment

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Over the years, many inventors have asked me if I thought that I could get their invention on the market by Christmas.  We live in a microwave society where everything needs to be done yesterday.  Although the world is getting faster, it still takes some time to get an invention from just an idea to the store shelves.

Everything product classification has some seasonality constraints when products are introduced to the market for sale to achieve a maximum return on investment.  Let’s look at the Toy Industry for example.  This is the true get it on the market by Christmas industry.

Every year around Valentine’s Day in mid-February, the Toy Fair trade show is held in New York City.  It is here where companies exhibits their new product lines to retails and distributions both big and small.  In 2015, the Toy Fair will run from February 14-17.  The companies hope to take orders at the show but a lot work are done by salespeople in the period after the trade show up until around April 1.  From there, if the orders are strong, production gets underway to start filling orders for shipment in August or September for the Christmas selling season.

The products that were exhibited at the Toy Fair in February and will be selling for Christmas were selected dating back to the last quarter of the previous year.  In most cases, short runs of the newer products were produced along with packaging and market materials.

So to answer the popular questions as to whether my invention will be on the market by Christmas?  If the invention is a new toy then probably not this Christmas.  Other industries have different lead times and seasonality constraints so it is impossible to make any hard and fast rule as to how long it takes to get an invention on the market.

Now here’s one big exception to everything that just came before.  Similar to the music industry where it’s harder to get a record deal; however, with social media, it is relatively easy to get your music heard and in front of millions of people.  The same is true with inventions.  If you have product to sell that is shelf level quality, you can be on the market and selling virtually overnight.

Robert E. MontgomeryOn The Market By Christmas