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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

First in the tank is a way to keep your smile fresh and bright.

Dana: Hi Sharks, I’m Joelle from Dana Point, California, and I’m the inventor behind Funk Off Teeth Refreshers.

Sonia: Hi Sharks, I’m Sonia from Rye, New York, and we’ve been friends since the seventh grade. Cheers, Joelle!

Sonia: Cheers! Today we are seeking $250,000 for 5% equity in our company.

Mark: Woo!

Dana: Sharks, how many times have you been embarrassed to find food and stains on your teeth and no one told you about it? We call it “funk” and you need it off.

Sonia: Listen, Sharks, funk happens. There’s no escaping it. There’s coffee, tea, salad, pesky pieces of pepper, and of course, red wine. We all get funk, and we need it off quickly and discreetly when we’re on the go.

Sonia: So, introducing Funk Off Teeth Refreshers,

Dana: The first and only 2-in-1 toothbrush and tooth gel that’s reusable 30 times to refresh your teeth. Listen, you refresh your breath with gum, you refresh your lips with lipstick, now you can refresh your teeth with Funk Off Teeth Refreshers.

Sonia: That’s right, it’s brilliant and as easy to use as lipstick. Simply remove the aerated cap, twist the bottom, out comes our 100% natural tooth gel. Brush your teeth and smile, it’s as easy as that.

Dana: But wait, Sharks, there’s more! You can check out your fresh and white teeth with the clever built-in mirror on the bottom. Ding!

Dana: And we all know Shark teeth are very, very valuable.

Sonia: So Sharks, who’s ready to get your funk off?

Lori: The name is cute and memorable.

Mark: So how did you come up with it?

Dana: I used to live up in Northern California, driveable to the wineries in Sonoma. I love my red wine, but I love my white teeth just a smidge more. So, I carried this in my purse. After our wine tastings, I’d go to the bathroom, get the funk off my teeth, and then put my lipstick on. One time, I thought, why isn’t there something like this that’s reusable and compact but for my teeth? It wasn’t in the marketplace, so I invented it. After many years of work, we now have eight patents. Actually, we have ten now in total.

Dana: I know you have 12 times more than that, Lori.

Lori: Wow! Well, listen, I’m impressed when anybody even has one. Okay, Sonia, tell us about yourself.

JD: Kudos to her! She has ten patents. I was like, no way, so I pulled it up. I used Google Patents, similar to one of the earlier questions. Funk Off, Inc. has ten granted patents, most of which are design patents. I want to show you their utility patent for the device they showcased. It was granted in 2022. Joelle is listed as the inventor, and the assignee is the company based in Rye, New York.

JD: Utility patents protect the functionality of the device. Let’s look at the claims to see what they truly own. The first four elements are straightforward: a teeth-cleaning device comprising a long housing, a shoulder assembly, a cavity with bristles, and an opening for the gel. The fifth element, however, specifies that the shoulder assembly and housing are engaged by interlocking prongs. This specificity might limit the patent’s flexibility, potentially due to prior art in that area.

JD: The patent also includes a method claim, describing a multi-use cleaning tooth device with a four-step approach. This provides additional enforcement.

JD: Here’s their design patent, showing the three-dimensional shape of the container. It protects the unique star shape and the way it twists up. They’ve got a solid portfolio and are off to a great start.

JD: However, focusing too much on patents can be a downside, as it might overshadow marketability. Let’s hear what Mark Cuban has to say about that:

JD: While we were working on logistics, we developed our tooth gel formula and three new toothpaste products. But Mark Cuban pointed out that our marketing was off. We should target high-end restaurants, give samples to waiters and sommeliers, and then sell in bulk to these establishments. Unfortunately, the Sharks decided against investing. But Robert Herjavec changed his mind and made us an offer, which we accepted.

JD: Mark Cuban’s advice was valuable. Although our sales were initially slow, I’m happy to report that Funk Off is still in business. You can buy our products at funkoff.com. We’re going strong, proving that a good foundation in technology protection is important, but marketing is crucial. And being on Shark Tank certainly helps!

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/