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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

My product and business is the Bev Buckle. I am seeking fifty thousand dollars in exchange for 10% equity in my business. The Bev Buckle is one of the most interesting inventions America has ever seen. Picture this: you’re at a sporting event, a concert, fishing at the river, and you feel the need to free up your hands for your beverage.

Oh my God, man! Man, oh, that is a great idea. It’s the only buckle to hold your beverage.

[Laughter]

Who would want one?

I could design the faceplate to have any brand, any logo, and any color, licensing branding. So keep that cold beverage close and those hands-free because it’s the Bev Buckle, the Bam Bam, baby.

How did you come up with this idea?

I was in college, and I’m out with my friends a lot. We went to bars, having some good times, and I just, out of habit, I kept doing this. And I thought to myself, man, if I could just hold my beer hands-free, I could maybe show off my poor dance moves.

So, I’m gonna go to Matt first. Bev Buckle, alright, a couple of different thought processes here. So, one, the name, in my mind, I mean, you tell me your product’s called Bev Buckle, I know exactly what that is, which is always a red flag. I’m thinking nearly descriptive, you know, what’s wrong with that? Walk me through it. What’s wrong with that?

Yeah, so if a consumer can instantly identify what the product is based on the name, right, without any use of imagination, then the trademark is what we would call merely descriptive, meaning that there’s no imagination needed to connect the product or the service to the mind of the consumer. So, in this case, Bev Buckle, I’m like, man, this is one of two things. In my world, this is a belt buckle that holds a beverage, or it’s a belt buckle that can open a bottle, right? It’s one of the two. It can’t be anything else, and it is what it is.

So, the USPTO, I’m looking really quickly at the applications here, yeah, but they registered because they filed what’s called a 2f amendment to their application or two applications, meaning that they’ve been in use for at least five years. And they can attest that they’re the only ones using this product name, and people have come to know them as the source for these beverage belt buckles. So, they got the registration with the caveat that it’s only because they’ve been using it for five years continuously. That is awesome. That is a cool example of sort of that secondary meaning, is that what that is?

Yeah, that can save a lot of clients, especially clients obviously that have been around for a while, and they might have a pretty descriptive trademark. We can sometimes finagle it so that we can get through the application process with the descriptive trademark using a 2f claim.

When he said invention, he went on and later in the presentation and did say he had a patent. He wasn’t lying. Let me just show that off real quick and get patent nerdy a bit. But I do have his U.S patented, granted in 2012. So, a while ago, oh, nice. He actually used the term patent correctly because a lot of times, ‘I have a patent.’ It’s like, ‘Well, you have a provisional patent application or maybe filed a non-provisional application.’ That’s one of my favorite things that also just grinds my gears. The truth is you’re actually probably right, during the film this maybe in 2009 or 2010, pitch to the Sharks, and it was still pending. He didn’t know that he would actually get to the Finish Line, but he did in 2008, you can see down here, your father provisional. Yeah, you find that kind of there in smaller print. So he’s got 20 years if I’m wrong from that date from the 2009 date, so it’s still in force. I mean, until 2028 or 2029. And it isn’t just on the way that it looks, they got a Utility Patent, and a brief look, uh, Dylan, I’d love to get your feedback actually. Uh, you gotta scroll to the bottom to see what indeed they actually own, right? It’s a buckle, darn buckle. Is the device claim looks like they’ve got you gotta have a back plate, a Fastener, a front plate, a single hinge, and a stop.

Sounds like some parts and pieces, so you know I think it’s good to see a structural claim looks like a yeah, it’s good they were able to get claims on the actual device itself. So, that’s gonna be good in terms of infringement. So, one thing I was going to say, you know if it was something that you know hadn’t been filed on yet I say hey, you know you’d want to think about a couple of things. One is filing on the device itself, but if that’s going to be difficult a lot of times it can be good to file on a method of use because that’s it can be a lot harder to find prior art on the method of actually using something because if you just have that thing, you know examiners can say well it doesn’t matter whether this is on a belt buckle or not what really matters is you know this specific thing and could look at just general drink holders like in a car or something right?

Yeah, right, and that’s always a problem, you know. So, it’s like, you know it can be helpful to go in with method claims that, you know, a method of using and, you know, putting on a belt and then how you, you know, uncoupled, you know, undo it and put a bottle in it. It’s going to be a lot harder for an examiner to reject something like that. So that could be a sort of a way to guarantee or, you know, get closer to guarantee getting some of the issue. But it’s awesome there to get, uh, system claims on this, right?

Yeah, and David, I think on point here, you know a lot of these folks pitching on Shark Tank it’s a single product and they’re trying to call it a business. I think that may be one of the issues, and they did talk about sales. He was able to sell four thousand dollars worth of the product before pitching to the sharks. Um, they went back and forth. Barbara actually said she would put in 50,000 for 51%. Okay, um, but after kind of behind closed doors, she ended up backing out, perhaps after doing some diligence. Um, the huge upside, good news that they’re selling a million dollars worth of these every year. They’re listed, they have their own website, they’re on Amazon. I was blown away. So, this is, yeah, this is one of those novelty products. I have a couple of clients like this that sell something kind of niche, and they’re beverage-related, and they kill it on these problems. There’s the America, I mean, you can just see the logo. So, having a Utility Patent like that, it uh, you’re not limited in terms of what types of designs to put on there. You know, the way that the ornamentation, right, it’s not locked in. It’s just a functional term that has those four or five elements that we talked about. Any competitor infringer will be unable to, right, use that, put that into the market. So, um, JD, when does this patent expire? When are you and I gonna get it on this Bev Buckle? You know, a few more years. Looks like 2028 or 2029. I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready. It’s on my outlet calendar now. I’m ready.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/