Water Balloons, Weapons of Mass Destruction and the PTAB

Josh Malone has eight kids. On a hot Texas days, he and his kids enjoy a water balloon fight to cool things off. Josh is normally in the rear with the gear. He is the family reloader, filling and tying water balloons to supply his kids with the ammunition necessary to keep the back yard action going. It was during one of these skirmishes that Josh figured he could replace himself if he just created a weapon of mass destruction. He thought of several ways of doing it and then, like so many inventors before him, he obsessively tinkered until he finally invented one that worked. It screws on a garden hose and has dozens of long tubes. Attached to the end of each tube is a self-sealing balloon. You just turn on the hose and when the balloons are substantially filled, you shake them, they fall off and the kids launch another attack. Leonardo da Vinci would be proud.

He named it a Bunch O Balloons. Josh knew then that he had a winner and building a company based on his own invention became his American Dream. He filed a provisional patent application on February 2014. Things went quickly at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and his first patent was issued about 18 months after the provisional application was filed.

Patenting proved Josh was the inventor and that he had an exclusive right to his invention. But more importantly, the patent could be collateralized to attract investment to build his startup.

Investors look at upside potential and downside risks. On the upside a patent’s exclusive right meant that if Bunch O Balloons took off, Josh would be able to keep competition at bay long enough to establish his startup and return the investment. On the downside, a large company with deep pockets, existing customers and solid distribution capabilities could steal the invention and massively commercialize it thus flooding the market and killing Josh’s startup. But patents mitigated this risk. In the worst case, Josh’s investors could take control of the patent and return their investment by defending it against the same infringers who killed the company.

Read more of this IPWatchdog article by Paul Morinville by clicking here.

Photo: Bunch O Balloons