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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hi sharks, my name is Tommy Priscilla, and I’m an Air Force pilot from San Diego, California. Today, I’m here seeking $100,000 for 25% of my company. I love summer days, evening baseball games, and creative ways to stay cool.


To Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa – you know, those places get crazy. Together, in a creative way to stay cool videos.


Alright, a lot of sales, yeah, and I got a couple of notes too. Somewhere around here, I’ve got a want noise, but like, you know, the $7,000 – it looks like a fantastic idea. I can tell you that the challenge he’s going to run into in sales is that there really just isn’t a market for it. It’s a great idea; someone’s going to kick the tires and say, “Wow, I’d like that,” but then realize that it’s just an inflatable, right? Like, so it’s a great gimmick, a great idea. He’s got a patent, and I don’t. I just don’t know where it’s going to go if he’s only got $7,000 in sales.

As someone looking for investors, you know, if that was $700,000, I guarantee you that would be a whole different conversation. They went back and forth for about three or four minutes about yikes, those are really low sales numbers, and the margins weren’t all that great. So that was a huge point.

Matt, I want to have you talk trademarks first. Did you look that up? Yeah, I found their trademark registration, and they do have a registration, but it’s a design mark – a logo – as opposed to a word mark, which is typically preferred. To be totally honest, it protects the letters of the name “Pick Up Pools.” They opted for a design mark smartly because there’s no way they can register “Pick Up Pools” as a word mark, because it’s descriptive of the product. Terrible name, but they did manage to register the logo associated with it, with a disclaimer to “Pick Up Pools.” So you can start a business called “Pick Up Pools”; I can start a business called “Pick Up Pools” and not get sued for trademark infringement unless we violate their design.

And I will, you know, excellent to know. If you’re saying, you know, at least they got something started and looks to be registered, so good for them. On the patent side, that got the attention of Mark. I mean, Mark asked right away, “Hey, what is that patent for?” and he quickly snapped back; this is for basically preventing. It’s a watertight barrier, and not just for truck beds. They did a good job, and I want to give them some kudos; the patent attorney who helped them with this did quite a good job. I’m going to pull the patent up and go patent-nerdy on you guys.

I had a chance to pull this one up; it was filed in 2014 and granted in 2016, so it’s good for 20 years from the date of filing, getting to 2034 – over 10 years of life left on it. You can see some pictures, exactly what he was showing. A lot of folks that are new to looking at patents, they think, “Oh, okay, he’s got ownership on these drawings,” and this is what he owns, but we actually find out at the bottom is the claims. That’s what you actually find, the written words, is what he owns. So, in order for those to infringe, all five of these things have got to be present. There’s got to be a base sheet with a front edge, this side wall, and the side wall are connected – that’s not too hard to appreciate. But the interesting part is this peripheral rim; I don’t think we could see – this looks like a separate rim portion that goes around and has to go on top of what you saw, the bed of the truck, or whatever that cavity is. And then there’s this hugging effect, which is interesting.

Now, the hugging effect is going to be described in the spec. What I thought was decent is actually pretty cool; they didn’t specify. Sometimes you see these inventors will do their own patents and say it’s just for the bed of a truck, and I’m kind of curious about that. I mean, he even mentioned that this is something that he’s seen on TikTok or YouTube or wherever he saw it originally – how is that a life hack?

That’s one of those life hacks, but in order for those to infringe, each of those elements needs to be there. So, yeah, the more elements, the more wording you see on a claim means it’s a narrower scope, in general. But I just want to highlight that, kind of a pro and a con on the actual patent asset. Dude’s got a fancy tarp; he does have a super fancy tarp. Not a deal. Barbara Cochran offered him a deal, but it appears that they’re no longer in business, and I think just for whatever reason, you go to the – let’s see, let’s go here where I was – like I can give you the reason, yeah, currently unavailable here. But maybe they’re selling somewhere else; I don’t know. But what do you think, Peter?

So, when I went on Amazon, what we were showing on that – there are other products out there now that are inflatable and $79. The $79 price point is where – and I look at it this way – when you’re bringing a gimmick to market, you have to understand consumer behavior: $20s, $40s, $60s, $80s, hundreds. That’s kind of the average – a pickup truck pool liner bed – $100 bucks. But if it’s $80, I’m getting it for sure, right? I have to own a pickup truck, and I gotta own it. The ones that you see on Amazon that are selling really well in that same style are inflatable on the side, so that when you actually sit in the truck, it’s a little bit more comfortable. The key point here is someone took the time to take the tarp, like you said, the fancy tarp, and turn it into a product. Just that inflatable side makes it look like a product and not gimmicky. For $200, I’m thinking, you know, I know where I can go. I can get some vinyl and I can do this myself and life hack it. That’s what you don’t want; the consumer has to look at that product and go, “I can’t make that in my garage; that’s perfect. It’s like, it’s done, it’s convenient, it’s inexpensive, and it’s done.” That’s my starting point when I look at things, versus I think, again, most times inventors think, “Well, how do I protect the idea?” and like, and this is why we were friends. Like, I know they call you before they call me; I can only advise that if you’re going to do any type of investment, get your bang for your buck. I mean, there’s – it’s really easy to own your own product on Amazon today. Like, there’s companies that are – sell $5-6 million annually that are owned by single individuals that invented a product. We have several of them.

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