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Author Topic: "It's not patentable, it's just a piece of clothing..."  (Read 1214 times)

Alistair

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Last night on a UK TV series called Dragons' Den (which was exported to the US under the name of Shark Tank if I'm not mistaken) a couple wanted an investment for their "completely new clothing garment for women" (you can find the garment here http://www.wingzfashion.com/shop.php?action=index, and I want to stress that I have no interest whatsoever in this product).
 
The couple claimed to have the patent for that and I was completely baffled when an investor (the most famous and wealthiest of the five by the way) more or less said that in their case the patent was useless as if the item is successful the big clothing companies will challenge it. The item was a hit with the investors but somehow after that remark no one invested.

It's a popular show and many did become millionaires after successful investments. I know it may just all be fictional in this case, but what a nasty remark, people go to some lenghts to have their inventions patented, many spend a lot of time and good money only to have their patent challenged by the big guns? What did he mean by that? How true is this in your view for the specific item and generally speaking?
 


ps. If you're based in the UK you can watch the episode and fast forward to the above discussed item here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0154t9g/Dragons_Den_Series_9_Episode_8
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JimIvey

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Re: "It's not patentable, it's just a piece of clothing..."
« Reply #1 on: 09-20-11 at 10:12 am »

The couple claimed to have the patent for that and I was completely baffled when an investor (the most famous and wealthiest of the five by the way) more or less said that in their case the patent was useless as if the item is successful the big clothing companies will challenge it.

What?!  An investor talking about patents out of his bum?!  Imagine that! 

If they have a patent (and didn't misspeak and they really only have a patent application), they have a patent.  Period.

Having said that, the investor is right to be somewhat concerned re patent protection.  I would expect prior art of hankerchiefs to be cited and to receive an obviousness argument that hankerchiefs can be tucked under dress straps to cover one's arms. 

The application/claims should be carefully drafted to be tailored to the specific aspects of the Wingz -- probably in the cut and edging of the sleeve ends.  It certainly looks like the sort of thing you'd see in Lillian Vernon catalogs -- might sell well.

Regards.
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James D. Ivey
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Wiscagent

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Re: "It's not patentable, it's just a piece of clothing..."
« Reply #2 on: 09-20-11 at 10:33 am »

I've seen the TV show, but not that particular episode.  The investors don't seem to have much understanding of what a granted patent can do for a business.  And of course, a patent application just means the applicant has a chance of getting a patent granted; let alone a patent with actual business impact.

For a start-up business, a patent can be a valuable asset; it can help raise the barrier to entry for competitors.  Of course a start-up can throw up barriers competition in many other ways too.  But competition isn't an issue until the start-up has a profitable business.  Sometimes the investors on the show don't seem to understand that.
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Ghoti

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Re: "It's not patentable, it's just a piece of clothing..."
« Reply #3 on: 09-20-11 at 09:39 pm »

I looked up the website and the patent is 'pending'.

Just for fun, some prior art which I know of ....in ballet, it is well known (and decades old) that some girls make their leotards more discrete (and warmer) by taking a pair of tights (usually which have develped holes in the toes), cutting the legs off at the knees, cutting the crutch out and wearing it under the leotard so that the tights cover their arms, head through the enlarged crutch. You might be laughing, but is an accepted look.

Depending on how the claims read, its basically the same thing. Pity, its a great concept which is nicely thought out.
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