Author Archive:Carolyn Keane

ByCarolyn Keane

A Counterfeiting Operation Ripped Off 2 Inventors. Then They Fought Back, and Won.

When a company copied their invention, Natasha and Fred Ruckel began investigating — and got an inside look into how products are ripped off.

On Valentine’s Day in 2015, Natasha Ruckel and her husband, Fred, were sitting in their living room in Gilboa, N.Y. Natasha was improvising on the piano, and Fred was listening while messing around with the couple’s cat, Yoda. Fred noticed a ripple in the living room rug, forming a half circle on one side. Again and again he tossed toys into the ripple and a delighted Yoda darted in and out. Natasha looked up from her playing. “That’s when we came up with the idea for the Ripple Rug,” she says.

The Ruckels, who had spent around 25 years earning their living in marketing and advertising for brands from PepsiCo to ESPN to Hasbro, were already in the midst of creating their first venture: an app that provided a way for amateur photographers to monetize online images. But they both agreed that the Ripple Rug was a better bet.

A couple of days later, Fred went to Home Depot and bought some cheap pieces of carpet, and they got to work on a prototype. When they had that, they launched a Kickstartercampaign in May 2015, pricing the American-made product at $39.95, to test the market. Within 30 days, they received $15,000 in backing. They had the products made in Georgia for $15 each, and filled the orders.

The Ruckels were weighing their next step when, that fall, the opportunity of a lifetime hit. QVC, in conjunction with the Today show, hosted an ongoing competition called the “Next Big Thing” for entrepreneurs with new retail products. Participants presented their offerings on the TV program, and the winning products received an order from QVC.

Following an arduous vetting process — including proof of a multi­million-dollar insurance policy, a guarantee of having 1,500 items available for sale and sample videos of the Ruckels in pitch mode — Ripple Rug made the cut. “We drove into New York City, and at every exit, we practiced the pitch,” Fred remembers. “We were there by 5 a.m. and hardly slept the night before.”

They sold a few hundred units immediately. QVC bought 1,500 more and Ripple Rug became a top seller. “It was pretty damned amazing,” says Fred. “We were profitable out of the gate, which is virtually unheard of. It felt like a great moment.”

It was, and it wasn’t. Over the next 14 months, the Ruckels learned that coming up with a truly original innovation attracts not only devoted customers but also the kind of highly organized, deep-­pocketed bootleggers who rip off products and systematically grind their inventors into the ground — both financially and emotionally. “It creates so much discord that you are willing to give up the dream of entrepreneurship and go back to your day job,” says Fred.

In the thick of battle, however, the Ruckels learned critical lessons: the importance of copyrighting assets before launching; the reality that people will steal everything from your marketing pitch to your product to your advertising photos; the need to continually patrol for ripoffs and take action. They also got a darkly fascinating glimpse of how ruthless, well-funded, deeply sophisticated bootlegging operations work — and how, with tenacity, vigilance, a good lawyer and the right strategy, they can be beaten.

To read how they won, here is the rest of the article:

Counterfeiting Operation Ripped off 2 Inventors. Then They Fought Back and Won

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ByCarolyn Keane

How to Start a Business – The Mega Guide

Matt Adams from Online Growth Guru has written a blog post called How to start a business – the MEGA guide.

The guide is over 8,000 words but has been broken down into chapters. This article summarises the chapters, so you can get a feel for whether it will help you in your journey to becoming an entrepreneur or even an inventor.

The first section is about Matt himself, he talks about his failures and challenges in his first business. But he also explains the mistakes realised and lessons learned from being new to an industry that was hugely competitive and much more technically advanced than his ‘little’ start up.

Starting a business plan

After finding out more about Matt, there’s action points on how to create a business plan, these actions include

  • Getting going and research
  • Structuring the plan
  • How to make notes and keep it lean
  • Keeping the plan simple and maintaining it as a working document

How to do Sales & Marketing

This section discusses the importance of short term sales techniques vs long term marketing strategies.

Some of the sales techniques discussed are:

  • Building a website
  • Telling everyone you’re in business
  • Building relationships and networking with like-minded others
  • How to do educational public speaking about your product or service

The long-term growth strategies explained are:

  • Growing your website to future-proof sales
  • Using offline media
  • Building your personal brand

Also, in this section, the article explains how to be strong in negotiations and make sure you close the deal at the earliest opportunity.

How to Finance a Strat up

The biggest question on a lot of people’s minds is ‘How do I raise money to start a business’. The final section of the guide goes on to talk about ways in which you can acquire finance or a loan, so you can get going with your idea.

It also advises on some of the best ways to start a business with no money. Such as consulting or freelancing.

If you’re interested in reading the full guide, simply head over to the website page How to Start a Business: the MEGA Guide

 

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ByCarolyn Keane

New Licensing Model Offers Free Patent Licenses to Startups and Small Businesses

Earlier today, iPEL, Inc., launched its new website and a brand-new model of patent monetization, which offers free and paid licensing options to operating companies.  iPEL has also defined a set of business practices that a Non-Practicing Entity can follow in order to call itself an Ethical NPETM.

iPEL was formed with $100 Million in initial capital, in May of 2017, by Brian Yates, a well-known patent monetizer, and Rasheed McWilliams, a respected patent trial attorney.  For the last year, iPEL has been actively building its worldwide patent portfolio, which currently includes more than 1,000 distinct patent families.

iPEL announced its Initial License Offering, available only through the end of 2018, which provides all companies an opportunity to secure a license to iPEL’s entire worldwide patent portfolio, through one of two licensing programs: (1) free licenses for small businesses and startups, and (2) paid licenses for larger businesses.

Both categories of licenses should be a welcomed change for operating companies, who historically learned of patents owned by one of Mr. Yates’ companies by being sued. Indeed, the dozens of NPEs that Mr. Yates has owned were often amongst the most active patent plaintiffs in the US and were responsible for more than 1,000 patent infringement lawsuits, against a majority of the companies on the Fortune 1000.

With iPEL, it seems clear Mr. Yates is intent on pursuing a very different monetization model. “It’s pretty funny,” said Mr. Yates. “Several people thought I retired or left the patent monetization business, because during the last year, I have not created dozens of new NPEs or filed hundreds of new patent lawsuits.  But, I just turned 43 years old, and I have no desire to retire anytime soon.  I love what I do and am incredibly proud of what we are doing with iPEL.  And, even though it has been fun keeping the details of iPEL a secret, it’s going to be a lot more fun watching iPEL impact the entire innovation ecosystem.”

Although Mr. Yates and Mr. McWilliams would not share the full scope of what iPEL has planned, it is clear that they want to change the NPE narrative.  Providing a defined list of best practices and clearly defined pre-litigation licensing options are definitely new talking points for NPEs.

Even the most vigilant anti-NPEs, however, will have a hard time criticizing iPEL’s offer to grant small businesses and startups a completely free, no strings license to its entire patent portfolio.

iPEL’s free license is available to any company whose gross annual revenues do not exceed $5 Million USD (or the equivalent in any other national currency) and is for a one-year term.  Although the license is renewable, it is not available to affiliates or subsidiaries of larger entities that do not meet the revenue restrictions.

“We know that small businesses and startups are the most likely to engage in paradigm-shifting innovation” said Mr. Yates, CEO of iPEL. “Those companies are not afraid to take risk, to ask big questions, or to dream. Unfortunately, in almost all instances, those same companies cannot afford to buy all of the patent licenses they need in order to implement their new technologies. iPEL wants to help these companies succeed, by giving them a large portfolio of patented technologies, upon which they can freely build.”

“There is no reason patent licensing cannot and should not be a celebrated exchange of innovation and technology between those with rights and those who need to leverage those rights in order to produce and distribute products,” said Mr. McWilliams, President of iPEL. “Patent and technology licensing has been a part of the fabric of American culture since the earliest days of our history as a nation.”

“Regrettably, patent licensing has become a maligned practice over the last decade in the United States,” said Mr. Yates. “This has allowed the many benefits of patent licensing to lay unrealized, and for innovation to stagnate. My hope is that by giving free, non-exclusive rights to iPEL’s valuable patent portfolio, startups and small businesses will create more jobs and create exciting new technologies.”

Of course, there is a self-serving piece to what iPEL is doing as well. If startups and small businesses do successfully build on the patents in iPEL’s portfolio, then they will at some point becoming paying licensees. “Sure, it just makes good business sense really,” said Mr. McWilliams. “These small companies don’t have the ability to pay for patent licenses, and a patent infringement lawsuit could cripple them before they even get started. We’d love for them to build on our valuable technologies without worry, and once they can afford it, purchase an ongoing license. It is a win-win for everyone.”

At the end of the day, iPEL hopes this new, startup-friendly model becomes an industry standard. “Despite the false narrative that has been spread by many willful infringers, NPEs are a vital part of innovation and the global economy.  And, at iPEL, we are holding ourselves to the highest professional standards, by giving all companies an opportunity to secure licenses on reasonable, pre-litigation terms.  And, small businesses and startups should never be afraid of an NPE jeopardizing their company.  For those reasons, we challenge the rest of the industry to follow our lead,” Mr. Yates said. “It is time for NPEs to stop allowing infringers to define us as a bunch of heartless monsters. Everyone should abide by the Ethical NPETM practices and support small businesses and startups. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

More information about iPEL’s Ethical NPETM criteria, its worldwide patent portfolio, and its free and paid licensing programs, is available at www.ipel.com.

New Licensing Model Offers Free Patent Licenses to Startups and Small Businesses

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ByCarolyn Keane

The Cade Prize rewards inventors and entrepreneurs…..

The Cade Prize rewards inventors and entrepreneurs who demonstrate
a creative approach to addressing problems ​in their field of expertise
​resulting in an innovative, not iterative, invention.

The Cade Prize is one of the largest cash prize competitions for innovation in the state of Florida. It is open only to Florida residents and Florida based companies. Since its launch in 2010, it has drawn hundreds of creative thinkers from Pensacola to Miami. Every year the applications are drawn from diverse sectors. Previous entries have included biomedical, healthcare, IT, tech, environmental, and agricultural ideas. The Cade Prize attracts cutting edge inventions that have a real possibility of making it to market.

The Cade Prize is in search of entrepreneurs, inventors, researchers, and early-stage companies planning to take their idea to market. $50,000 in cash prizes (provided by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida) along with in-kind incentives are awarded to the final top four finishers of the competition each year. The goals of the $50,000 prize are to provide seed capital and publicity for great ideas with market potential. For the first time, awards will be given to the top four entries. The award for first place is $25,000, $15,000 for second place, $7,500 for third place, and $2,500 for 4th place. Individuals and companies with inventions that will remain in Florida for at least one year after the Prize is awarded, are eligible to enter. “Outside investment” is defined as funding from investors; This does not include grants, personal funds, or loans from friends and family.

The Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention is excited to announce that the 2018 Cade Prize is now accepting applications from inventors and entrepreneurs in the state of Florida. For the first time, the Cade Prize will award the top four finalists! The application fee is waived until June 22nd at midnight. Beginning June 23rd, the application fee will be $55.

For more information, please visit www.cademuseum.org or email Ashley Bryant at abryant@cademuseum.org.

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ByCarolyn Keane

Another Inventor at Odds with Invention Promoter

Read the Fine Print before you sign.

 

Read the fine print before giving money to an invention help company

Read the fine print before giving money to an invention help company

It all sounds so good, and easy. You have spent hours and perhaps years creating your product. You have spent money making prototypes and patents. We know those are not cheap and can take years to get. You see an ad on TV and it sounds great! They can do it all! You meet with someone and they love your idea as much as you do, or so they say.

Here is the kicker. They are in it for the money. I am not saying they aren’t entitled to be paid for their work. The problem is, they rarely do work. Inventors do not ask enough questions or talk to enough people about the company they are choosing. It is based on pure emotion. They sign a contract to pay and they don’t know what they are getting in return.

Inventors are easy pickings for a lot of companies. They tell the inventor what they want to hear and the inventor jumps at the chance. Their credit card is out so fast, they forgot to read the fine print.

Here is another inventor who fell into the trap:

Oklahoma inventor at odds with invention promoter

Don’t be the next one to get burned. If you have questions, or need help, email us at info@inventingdaily.com

 

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ByCarolyn Keane

Patent Search 101: Why US Patent Searches are Critically Important

By Gene Quinn  January 13, 2018

US Patent Search: US Patent Searches are essential.Inventors will frequently ask why they need to spend the money on a US patent search, and all too frequently believe patent searches are unnecessary. There are various iterations of this question, starting out with “why do I need a patent search, I’ve already searched myself and cannot find anything,” to “there is nothing on the market like their invention, so why would a US patent search be necessary?” After all how could someone have ever come up with their invention?

Surveying the market is a wise first step, but there may be patents lurking. There are various reasons for this, but one big reason is because an independent inventor or small company came up with the invention previously, filed and obtained a patent, but then lacked the resources or know-how to bring the product to market. Then when others came up with the same or similar idea and found that issued patent they abandoned the project and never took the product to market because they could not own the exclusive rights, which meant that if the product succeeded on the market a larger competitor could simply copy with impunity.

It is also a wise first step to do your own patent search if you are an inventor. Spending time looking for related patents and perhaps even more importantly reading related patents is a very useful endeavor. If you can find a patent reference that you feel is too close for comfort then you have saved the money associated with paying for a professional patent search and/or hiring a patent attorney or patent agent.

Notwithstanding, I am always skeptical when I hear inventors say that they have done their own US patent search and have found nothing. Patent searching is as much an art as it is a skill, and if you are not familiar with advanced search strategies it is not surprising that you are unable to find anything too close, but rest assured there are always patents to find that are at least similar in some ways. I have put together a patent search tutorial, which will help give you some strategies. So absolutely start with your own patent search, but at some point before spending thousands of dollars to obtain a patent you should obtain a professional patent search and patentability opinion.

If you hire a professional patent search firm you may want to also consider adding an international patent search. Some search firms may already include an international patent search in the price, or at least a search of certain foreign databases. While US patent searches are essential, international patent searches are preferable if you can afford the extra cost.

The patent process can be expensive. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money preparing and filing an application when there is easy to find prior art that will prevent a patent. For this reason many inventors and businesses will choose to begin the process by paying for some kind of patent search. The expense of a patent application is saved if knock-out prior art is located. If no serious road blocks are found the patent search will normally lead to a better, stronger patent application and potentially smoother application process.

The reason US patent searches lead to a better, strong patent application is because the first application filed is absolutely critical. All aspects of your invention must be disclosed, nothing new can be added without compromising the all important filing date (aka priority date). After having done a patent search the initial disclosure can be specifically written to carefully define your invention so as to focus on what is most likely the patentable feature or components.

Who can do a US patent search?

Anyone can do a patent search using the online Patent Office database, but this database only contains patents issued since 1976, so such a search is not complete. Google has a patent search engine is very quick, and it includes patents going all the way back to into the early 1800s. Unfortunately, Google Patents has a limited number of searchable fields. Still, Google Patents is an excellent first place to start, particularly where you don’t know exactly what you are looking for.

How can you not know what you are looking for? The answer is simple. You know your invention, but likely won’t know the exact language patent practitioners typically use to describe the features and functions of your invention.

Many years ago I was doing a search on a bubble mailer, but couldn’t find anything initially. After spending a little time searching it became clear that the term “bubble mailer” was not the way that patent practitioners were describing this. I could have given up, but knew there had to be something. After searching I finally found a reference that described something similar. When I revised my search terms I found a trove of related references. To find the best results with a word search  you need to know how patent practitioners describe things in patent applications and issued patents, that is when the most relevant prior art will be located. Using Google Patents at least initially is very helpful because they search synonyms.

Next Steps in Your Patent Search

After you find some relevant patents you might find it helpful to switch over to FreePatentsOnline.com, which allows for specific fields to be searched. Indeed, using both FreePatentsOnline.com and Google patent search makes a lot of sense.

The best and most reliable patent search will be done by a professional that is intimately familiar with both advanced searching techniques and classification systems. If you are not familiar with advanced search techniques and classification you are almost certainly going to miss the most relevant prior art in your own search. So search on your own to see if you can find something without spending any money, and to educate yourself on what information is included in patents. Then before you file remember that it is better to spend hundreds of dollars on a professional patent search now than to spend many thousands of dollars only to learn later that a patent cannot be obtained.

Why can’t I just get a cheap patent search?

Before you purchase a no-frills patent search it is important to know what you are getting. Frequently, overseas providers are the ones offering bargain basement prices. These searchers may not speak English as their first language, and sending technical information overseas can violate US export laws. Respect for propriety rights may also be limited, making it culturally acceptable to take or share propriety information.

Having someone who does not speak English as their first language and who does not live in the US do a patent search is extremely dangerous. I have no doubt overseas searchers are intelligent, but the way you find references is by knowing how patent attorneys and patent agents would or could describe various features and components. Therefore, intimate familiarity with the English language and common usages of the English language are absolutely essential.

A cautionary tale about bad patent searches

One example on this point. Many years ago my firm had a client who literally invented a new hog trap. An overseas search company performed the patent search. We knew immediately that the search could not be relied upon. Of course, one of the problems is sometimes when you obtain bargain basement US patent searches it is hard to know if the search is reliable, which is why pay a little extra for a professional search by a reputable search firm make sense.

In this cautionary example the patents found related to a pipelines for commercial and industrial applications. Devices known as “pipeline pigs” are used to conduct maintenance on pipeline without requiring the pipeline to be shut down. According to Wikipedia these devices originally got their name because when used a high pitch squealing noise is made, which sounds like a pig. Obviously, the searcher who didn’t understand our inventor’s hog trap simply searched synonyms, trading hog for pig. We knew that the search was unreliable, but sadly bad searches frequently lead to elation because the search uncovers nothing even close, which makes the patent search suspect.

Does a professional patent search come with a guarantee?

Unfortunately, no guarantees can be provided. Pending patent applications are published 18 months after filing, which means not all relevant prior art can be found even with a professional patent search. Even with an exhaustive and professional patent search cannot locate everything pending and not yet published. Additionally, when you do apply for a patent it is extremely likely that the patent examiner will rely on at least some patents that you did not know about.  Examiner rejection are sometimes unanticipated. It can also be due to the fact that the description of the invention is unintentionally overbroad.  Sometimes it is because an examiner will weave together multiple patents to make a rejection.

Receiving a rejection from a patent examiner is as normal and common as paying taxes every April 15th. The key to obtaining a patent is to have an application with sufficient disclosure (both broadly defining and narrowly defining your invention) so that if an examiner does make a rejection or find prior art that you can amend your application as necessary to satisfy the examiner and obtain a patent. Therefore, it is important to understand that the goal of a patent search is not to guarantee that there is no relevant prior art that will bar patentability, but rather to investigate whether pursuing with the expense of a patent application makes sense. Patent searches allow you to make fully informed business decisions.

What about US patent searches from invention promotion companies?

There is absolutely a dark side to the invention marketplace, and inventors need to be careful. No better example exists than the Federal Trade Commission winning an injunction against World Patent Marketing, a company charged with devising a fraudulent scheme to use consumer funds to enrich themselves.

Part of the typical invention scheme is to tell you what you want to hear. Suspect companies tell you that they are excited to work with you and recommend a patent search that will cost around $800 (typically). Then they come back with great news, they cannot find any patents that relate to your invention, which should be a red flag. With nearly 10,000,000 issued US patents and many millions of published patent applications it would be quite rare for an invention to address a problem never before considered by anyone.

There are reputable companies you can work with in the invention space. When looking for a reputable company it is important to understand that the hallmark of a legitimate company is they will not do absolutely everything you need. Be careful when a company promises to be a one-stop-shop. While it is perfectly legitimate for companies work together, it is extremely unusual for any company to provide a professional patent search, engineering support, licensing services and legal services. Indeed, the ethics rules largely prohibit patent practitioners from working with these types of companies. So be careful (and suspicious) if you never get any direct contact with a patent attorney or patent agent.

Do I Need a Patent Attorney for a US Patent Search?

There is a longer answer here that deals with whether it is wise to pursue a patent application without a patent professional, but given the topic here relates to US patent searches for now suffice it to say that if you only pay for a professional patent search you are going to get just a list of patents that are relevant, or maybe copies of the patents. When you purchase patent searches you do not get a patentability opinion, nor do you get to talk to someone to help you interpret the results of the search. Most inventors want and need to have the results interpreted and explained by either a patent attorney or a patent agent, so if that is the service you are looking for be careful when you go directly to a patent search firm and purchase only a patent search.

For competent, thorough US patent searches alone you would pay at least $400 for something that is relatively simple and up to $800 to $1,000 for a search alone on something complex, or deals with software. This cost is for the professional patent search alone, and does not include the cost of an attorney to review the search and offer an opinion about patentability.

Before you hire anyone – here is a class you can take on your own time to start the search and save money – https://www.udemy.com/diy-patent-search-how-to-save-on-patents/

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ByCarolyn Keane

Are there any free tools for SEO?

https://www.quora.com/Are-there-any-free-tools-for-SEO

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ByCarolyn Keane

Bunch O Balloons Inventor Wins Infringement Case

Josh Malone, the inventor of Bunch O Balloons, won a $12.3 million judgement against Telebrands’ recently. Josh’s patents were challenged at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and were found to be invalid. However, the Eastern District of Texas found that the patents were valid and also found Telebrands’ and others had willfully infringed the patents owned by Tinnus Enterprises and Zuru that cover the toy, Bunch O Balloons. Zulu and Tinnus are now looking forward to enhanced damages since the jury found willful infringement by Telebrands’.

Another patent used to protect the invention of Malone was challenged by Telebrands’, but the PTAB did not grant the petition for hearing since the same issues and the same prior art had been reviewed by the examiner in the application for patent. This may show that the tide is starting to turn in favor of the inventor in further reviews of patents in this on-going battle.

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ByCarolyn Keane

The Most Iconic (and Patented) Games

By Gene Quinn & Renee C. Quinn Dec 24, 2017

Christmas 2017 is upon us! Children worldwide will soon be comfortably tucked into their beds as they anxiously await the arrival of Santa Claus (a.k.a. Kris Kingle). This is a great time of the year to be young, or at least young at heart!

Several years ago we profiled the Top 10 Iconic (and Patented) Toys in our Christmas Eve edition. This year we decided to profile the most iconic and patented games, many of which are still likely to be found waiting for good little girls and boys under the Christmas tree. Profiled are Monopoly®, Rubik’s Cube, Battleship, and Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Twister and Simon.

We also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! Thank you for reading IPWatchdog.com!

 

Monopoly®

Monopoly patentIn 1935 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued U.S. Patent No. 2,026,082 on Monopoly®, one of the most successful and beloved board games of all time.

As the story goes, Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman, was struggling to support his family during the Great Depression. It was during this time that he claimed to have fondly remembered summers in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and dreamed about being a real estate mogul. These diversions purportedly lead to him formulating what has become the most popular board game of all time – Monopoly®.

Darrow felt certain he had a hit on his hands so he contacted Parker Brothers, who initially turned him down, but only after explaining that his game violated some 52 fundamental rules of a board successful game. Undeterred, Darrow marketed the game himself. As fate would have it, a friend of Sally Barton, the daughter of Park Brothers’ founder, George Parker, bought the game. At the time Mrs. Barton’s husband was the President of Parker Brothers. One thing lead to another and eventually Parker Brothers became convinced that this game, with minor modifications, could be a huge success. As a result of his invention Darrow became the first millionaire game inventor, thanks to royalty payments.

The irony, however, is that Darrow may not have invented the game at all, but rather he may have taken a locally popular game and made only a few changes. By the time Parker Brothers realized that Darrow might not have been the true inventor the game was already a huge success. To protect the game and its investment the decision was made to buy up all patents and copyrights on any related game, thereby ensuring the monopoly on Monopoly®.

 

Rubik’s Cube

One of the most popular games of the 1980s was the Rubik’s Cube, a puzzle game that proved enormously frustrating to many who attempted to unlock its solution.

Invented in 1974 by Hungarian inventor Ern? Rubik, the device was patented in the United States with the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 4,378,116 on March 29, 1983, with the title Spatial logical toy.

On a classic Rubik’s Cube, each of the six faces is covered by nine stickers, each of one of six colors: white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. See WikipediaA Rubik’s Cube craze captured worldwide attention in the 1980s, with tournaments and even the Guinness Book of World Records recognizing the fastest attempts to solve the puzzle.

Today the Rubik’s Cube has been a part of pop culture for decades, and has once again gained a new following with over 40,000 YouTube pages dedicated to the puzzle game.

 

Battleship

BattleshipAnother long time favorite game is BattleshipU.S. Patent No. 1,988,301 was issued on January 15, 1935 under the title Game board, the originally patented game does not bear a lot of resemblance to the one that many of us grew up playing.

The patent explains that the invention relates to a perforated game board and pins insertable in the perforations. Although the patent explains that this perforated game board could be used for number of different games, the game we know as Battleship is described.

“The game herein illustrated as in progress might be called Battleships,” the patent reads. The game is described as requiring two players to sit facing each other. “One player, making use preferably of some erasable marking means, such as chalk, places an enclosure or line around a number of arbitrarily chosen series of perforations in groups of 4 (representing a battleship), in groups of 3 (a cruiser). The patent explains that play will go back and forth with each player calling out shots at the unseen target created by the other player. “Play continues thus and when one of the series of perforations within an enclosure has been filled with pins, that ‘ship’ is ‘sunk’.”

 

Rock’em Sock’em Robots

Rock'em Sock'em RobotsU.S. Patent No. 3,235,259, titled Toy boxers, was issued on February 15, 1966. The patent explains: “It is the primary object of this invention to provide a new and amusing toy in the form of a novel boxing game manually operated by opposing players.” Inventors Marvin Glass, Harry Disko and Burton Meyer, assigned the patent to Marvin Glass & Associates, and the first version of the Rock’em Sock’em Robots game was manufactured by Louis Marx and Company in 1964.

Rock’em Sock’em Robots was a game of battling robots, with each player trying to knock the others head off the block. The Red Rocker and the Blue Bomber would battle it out inside the ring.

Designed for two players, this boxing game required each player to a robot by operating the mechanism with his or her thumbs.

 

 

Twister

Twister has to make this list just because of the patent art on display in Fig. 3 (to the left) alone.

Invented by Charles Foley and Neil Rabens, and assigned to Milton Bradley Company, U.S. Patent No. 3,454,279, titled Apparatus for playing a game wherein the players constitute the game pieces, was patented on July 8, 1969. The patent explains: “The invention relates to a method of and equipment for playing a game of skill and chance for amusement and exercise purposes.”

The game is played with a playing surface the size of a large blanket, which has “a plurality of columns of loci, said loci being of such size and so spaces as to enable the players to place a hand or a foot on any designated locus, the columns of loci being different colors…” Don’t you just love the way patent attorneys write?

A “chance device” such as a spinner is included with the game. Someone not playing (i.e., a referee) will spin the wheel and call out a hand or foot with a corresponding color, which requires the players to twist and contort themselves in order to place the appropriate hand or foot on the color. The object of the game is to move into the appropriate position without falling. If a player falls or touches an elbow or knee to the surface the game is over and the other player declared the winner.

 

Simon

Ralph Baer, Hall of Fame inventor of the video console, was also the co-inventor of this extraordinarily popular, frustrating, and fun game. Baer, along with co-inventor Howard Morrison, invented this electronic game in the late 1970s, and launched in 1978.

U.S. Design Patent No. D253,786 was issued on Christmas Day 1979 (Fig. 1 of the patent shown left). While that might seem odd to many, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issues patents every Tuesday, and December 25, 1979 happened to be a Tuesday. Obviously, all the work to allow the patent to be done was complete well in advance. In the U.S. a patent is not officially issued until it is published, which occurred on Christmas Day 1979.

For those not familiar with this iconic game, the device is made up of four colored buttons, which light in a series. The player must repeat the sequence correctly once the lights stop. Each time the player successfully completes the correct sequence the sequence becomes longer, and as the player continues the sequence gets faster and faster. This game can still be purchased today, but the new age Simon Optix seems more virtual reality headset than anything else. In an attempt to keep the game fresh for the next generation you wear the headset and wave your hand in front of the proper color in sequence. Other varieties of this classic game include the Simon Swipe and Simon Air.

 

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