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Returning to an old invention

Postby Artful Dodger » Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:10 pm

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Hi all,

my first post on this forum ...

The short story is that about 20 years ago I got into juggling as a hobby and invented a new "skill toy". I successfully prototyped the toy, made a batch and sold them through a stall at a local market, but basically I didn't enjoy that side of things. Eventually, my interests moved on, but every so often I've thought about reviving the toy and seeing what could be done with it. This is one of those times.

Without giving too much away, the toy works on an original principle; it's not simply a variation on any of the "standard" skill toys or juggling props (frisbees, yoyos etc.) I'm actually kind of amazed that no-one else seems to have come up with the same idea over the past couple of decades. It can be played solo, in toss-and-catch games with a partner or small group, or as a team sport.

I have basically zero manufacturing or retail experience (I freelance in a service industry) but over the past five years I've had some success with self-publishing "niche" books via Lulu.com; enough to encourage me to revisit my old toy idea as a part-time "garage" business, promoted via the Internet. If it was a hit, I guess I'd look at offering the toy to an established manufacturer.

Re: Returning to an old invention

Postby Roger Brown » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:05 am

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The first question would be is it protected in any manner? Plus, since you sold it to the public 20 years ago and have done nothing with it since is it considered public domain?
Come visit my sites at http://www.RogerBrown.net
or http://www.looking2license.com
I have gotten 9 products licensed spending less than $100 on each, you can too.

Re: Returning to an old invention

Postby Scrupulous » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:53 am

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This could be one of those situations where a design patent is actually preferable.

The product itself may be long-since in the public domain. But the exact configuration of the most practical manufactured article (and related embodiments, which could include something very close to the original) may still be claimed as the subject matter of a design patent.

The assumption being that no other issued design patents would serve as prior art. Hence, they could not be combined with the original, and used as the rationale for a rejection based on obviousness. In this case, a lack of pubished material on the as-sold item would actually be a good thing.

That's just the IP side. But, what you could do is make a video of people having a blast using your gizmo...and hope that the video goes completely viral...(youtube "Dude Perfect")

Don't forget to put a link to your cleverly-named product/website, somewhere in the video.

I think that just about covers it. ;^)

Re: Returning to an old invention

Postby Artful Dodger » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:54 pm

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No, it isn't protected in any way other than total obscurity; I probably sold ten of them in one day, about 20 years ago, and have never seen anything like them since. It's a very simple design - anyone could make one themselves if they could be bothered - but my impression is that many people can't be bothered and prefer to buy something ready-made.

I understand that taking out a design patent is a long and expensive process; to be honest, I'm just interested in setting up a hobby business and leaving patents etc. to more serious inventor/entrepreneurs.

I imagine that, if the toy did take off to any appreciable extent, the concept and design would be ripped off by others anyway. Thus, the aim would be to make a certain amount of money in the short term and try to establish a "name" for the toy, closely associated with my brand name/website/YouTube vids etc. It would be marketed primarily to the niche community of juggling and skill toy enthusiasts, which supports a small number of manufacture and retail businesses.

If an established juggling prop/skill toy manufacturer decided to co-opt the idea and sell to the same community ... I guess I'd be gambling that by that stage it would be in the "rival" manufacturer's best interests to work with me or buy the rights to the toy, to retain the goodwill of their established customers.

Re: Returning to an old invention

Postby carjug » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:10 pm

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Juggling websites?
jugglers always want new toys. If you took out an ad in JUGGLE magazine would it sell? www.jugglingdb.com ?

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