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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Next up is a product to help with anxiety.

Hi sharks, I’m Michael Malkin, and I’m Lucy.

Today, we are seeking $250,000 in exchange for 10% of our company. Calm Strips Home Strips are a cool new way to help people reduce their anxiety, and that is just scratching at the surface.

Have you ever had a day like my animated friend Charlie here? This traffic is stressing him out. This cartoon cloud came out of nowhere, and Charlie’s umbrella – oh, Charlie! And now his phone is blowing up with angry messages from his comically evil boss. We’ve all gotten them.

Enter Calm Strips – a healthy way for Charlie to calm and ground himself. Calm Strips might look like any other sticker, but they’re actually textured sensory adhesives. People everywhere are rubbing, scratching, or picking at the textured surface of their Calm Strips to help reduce fidgeting, increase focus, and regulate restless energy. They’re reusable – on your laptop, your desk. Teachers and students alike love them because it helps kids manage their own restless energy without disrupting the rest of the class.

So sharks, who wants to invest in Calm Strips and show the world how easy it is to take a little bit of calm with you everywhere?

In front of you, I see you guys are already – already, I love that. So we have both the soft sand and the newer river rocks textures in the Calm Circles and Calm Strips. How does this work?

I originally came up with the idea for Calm Strips because for the last 13 years before doing Calm Strips, I worked in an Apple retail store. It was a really busy environment, and I found that it was incredibly stressful. It would kind of trigger my anxiety. So, I started wrapping a little bit of carpenter’s tape around my finger and rubbing on that. It would help me to kind of calm down, and science does show that touch, especially tactile sensory touch, can have a significant impact on reducing people’s anxiety and making them feel calmer.

So guys, I just don’t get it. What was your market research, though? You say it worked for people. The reason I say that is because over a hundred thousand people get it. We have a return rate of less than one percent.

What does it cost to buy one of these? You get a 5…

Cost you to make it?

The soft sand cost us one dollar, and for the river rocks, it costs two dollars.

I love them. They are e-commerce, so it does cost us a couple, you know, about three hours of the margins. How much are you selling of this stuff?

So we launched early last year. You guys, hold on to your socks. There you go. Since then, uh, we’ve just crossed 2.5 million dollars in sales.

I love hamsters.

So we did, um, we did 1.67. Amazing, thank you. Thank you for all. The best. Blown away too, Matt.

That’s a lot for, uh, I don’t know, an emery board. Isn’t that what that is, right?

Yeah, right. Really, really low-grade sandpaper. Yeah. Good for them, I guess. You know, like, I’m surprised. Yeah, I was watching it before the show. I mean, then, you know, just from a patentability side, I looked hard to see if they had anything filed or anything issued. No, they hadn’t. You know, and I tried looking at it from the utility side, functionally. Yeah, there is some benefit, it sounds like, you know, if someone’s trying to take their mind off of what they’re thinking about and just start rubbing a strip. That can’t meet the utility barrier, but in terms of patentability novelty, it likely hit a huge wall. You know, it’s just a piece of paper, and because it’s adhesive-backed, this has a unique color to it. So, I thought about design, and couldn’t find anything there. So, I want to get your take on trademarks first, and then I’ll jump to an example where I’ll show that paper can be patented on the design side. I want to show some examples there.

Sure, yeah. From a trademark perspective, obviously, the brand is Calm Strips, and that’s a very descriptive trademark for this particular product. Right, because these are strips of paper or material that are meant to create a calm feeling in the user. So, Calm Strips are very much descriptive. USPTO said so as well in the application. So, they applied for a trademark in the paper class at the USPTO, which is Class 16, and they were denied initially based on the application being descriptive. Right, Calm Strips is what the product is. It’s not generic because it’s not the category thing, but it is descriptive or merely descriptive. So, the USPTO said so, and they ended up having to amend their application from the principal register to the supplemental. You want to be on the principal registration database because that’s how you can enforce the trademark. But there’s a second tier, kind of like junior varsity. It’s called, if I was in basketball, yeah. Yeah.

But you can still kind of play in the game every once in a while.

Yeah, unfortunately, you can’t register – you can’t enforce the trademark if it’s on the supplemental database, but you can still have a registration. You can still use the registered trademark symbol, and then after five years of continuous and exclusive use when it’s time to renew the trademark, you can actually apply for a new trademark on the principal citing your five years of continuous use and your secondary meaning required to distinguish in the marketplace. So, there’s some benefits to it. Cool, right? Thank you for that. Yeah, I think our example from last week, they had hung in there for that five years. So, sort of the next best thing, right? You want to shoot for the principal first, but because it’s so descriptive, it sounded like the other had to go for the supplemental, right, and they were lucky that the USPTO didn’t say that’s generic. That is like the thing that it is, right? But in this particular case, they must have said it’s descriptive because they couldn’t find anything else out there called Calm Strips. Yeah, so it wasn’t generic, but it was still descriptive. Okay, cool. I just want to show the audience, so if you ever wanted to know more about paper, right? Can paper be patented? Yeah, and the answer is affirmatively yes. So, let’s take a look at some Google results. I was playing with just before the show. So, here at Google Patents, patents.google.com, my favorite resource to kind of go look and see what’s out there. So quick, the patent office has a great search engine as well, but I usually default to Google. The prior, so after the year 2000, meaning some applications that have filed recently in the past 23 years, and you can select the US and then design patents only that have been granted. You can see that there’s – I mean, a ton, a ton of time. So, let’s go to design patents only – 2057 design patents that have been issued on that have the word paper in the title. And so, let’s take a look at some of these things, right? Suitable paper bag. Uh, there’s lots of, you know, paper products in the bathroom. So, there’s some toilet paper dispenser. If we look at this embossed paper product, you know, yeah, this may be for paper towel or for toilet paper. I won’t get into the potential functionality benefits of that. But it’s quite detailed, and it’s the exact pattern of dots and embossing and the waves, right? With those, true art here. And that’s what design patents cover is the art, the appearance, and it’s all in solid line, and they really zoom in right as you can see that the true formations of them bossing, and, you know, it’s more of like an elliptical shape, I think, and the spacing and how they have these views. See, view number three would actually be a section view of this. And so, we’ll see down below that it looks here’s like from the side angle what the paper product looks like in its final form. Pretty cool, so, you know, it’s very feasible to apply for and to get design patents on paper, you know, something they – if this company decides to persist – um, then they could look into design patent protection on their Calm Strips. I want to share this tab, and so they’re – they’ve got calmstrips.com. At least the website’s up and running. They’re big into schools, and we – we cut the video short, but they did share that they’re in 3,000 schools, and now they’re up to 5,000 schools, so they’re – they’re still going. They ended up getting an investment from Kevin – invested for 30 percent of their company for 250 grand, and I think he’s doing quite well. You can see they’re on a lot of different products on the desk and really hitting that younger youth age group really well. So, kudos to them. Interesting. So, he bought in for a quarter million dollars for thirty percent. Yeah, a business that sells 2.5 million, yep. I don’t like that math. Does not make any sense to me. He also – he also got a royalty – $2.50 on every unit sold.

Yes, I feel like, um, if you’re selling $2.5 million a year, I mean, your business should be worth considerably more than, you know, uh, whatever, you know, $250,000 and 30%, right? And that seems crazy to me. Maybe it’s not as, uh, profitable as it looks like it is, right?

Yeah, well, and Mark, uh, dropped out. He said, you know, this is just a single product. Who needs other product lines for scaling? Didn’t see that. Sure. Damon said no; we just didn’t understand. He kept on saying he didn’t get it, just couldn’t get behind it. Um, Laura dropped out; it wasn’t as lucrative of an offer. Um, so yeah, yeah, that is interesting when you see single product offerings, right? That’s always kind of a challenge for folks, and right, and we deal with that a lot too from a trademark and patent side of things, right? Is that a client comes to us with an invention, right? It’s a single invention type of deal, and we have to have the conversation with them: well, are we going to brand everything around this one product, or are there any other products? And if there are going to be other products, maybe the storefront shouldn’t be the same name as the product, right? Yeah, that’s a conversation that we have to have quite often with clients, right?

What’s a good example of a company that sort of had to evolve, you know? They went from a single product. I don’t know, putting you on the spot. Yeah, into a brand. You know, um, yeah. Um, let’s see. I’m thinking of…

I definitely see it. Um, trying to think here, what would be a good example or whatever, like GoPro or, I don’t know, what were they, were they kind of, you know, yeah, I mean, GoPro was probably their hero product, right? And then as they grew, they had, you know, conceivably, they had to add some different products as well, or they had the opportunity to add products as well. And then so names, then GoPro, right? GoPro is kind of the brand, but then each individual product has its own name at this point, I would assume, right? Um, which is a good strategy but something to be, you know, aware of too when you’re going to market with a single product, you know? Is there the opportunity to have more products down the road? And if so, do you want that product to be the same name as the brand that sells the products? Um, my answer should be would be no. It should be separate because then if you have multiple products and you end up licensing one or selling one, you can kind of keep the existing business running. It’s not all tied together totally.

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/