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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hello Barbara. Hello gentlemen. My name is Steve Gadlin, and my company is “I Want to Draw a Cat For You.” I’m seeking a $110,000 investment in exchange for 25% of my company. 

[Little music]

Hey there, Sharks. My name is Steve. I’ve got an offer that you won’t believe. For the low price of just $10,000 you get a quarter of my company. Understand? You go to my site, you describe a cat, I draw it, I mail it. It’s as easy as that. I’d invest if I were you, and I want to draw a cat for you. I’ll draw you a cat that’s short and fat. I’ll draw you a cat with a pork pie hat. I’ll draw you a cat, whatever the vibe. I draw the cat that you describe.

I want to draw a cat for you. I want to draw a cat for you. I want to draw a cat for you. I want to draw a cat for you.

Well done. So love the dancing. Thank you. That’s my signature move.

Now by now I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “How did this idiot make his way into the Shark Tank?” Well, let me tell you, there is an economy for stupid, and I am overflowing with it. Now, with their universal appeal, my cat drawings are poised to be the next Pet Rock. I charge people $9.95 for my cat drawings. $9.32 of that is profit.

I took the liberty of drawing some cats for each of you, ones I thought you might order if you came to my website. So Robert, I know you’re into fast cars. Thank you, Steve. Barbara, you just closed the deal, and you’re looking fabulous, vroom vroom. Mr. Wonderful, you are taking your morning, uh, bath in your tub-o-cash. Damon, here’s a fancy man about town. And Mark, congratulations on your championship. Thanks sir.

I have customers who’ve bought enough of these drawings to start their own cat drawing gallery. Why are people buying them? People ask for their dead pets. They want to draw about their breakup. Or sometimes I have cats fighting an octopus and a T-rex on the moon. So they try to test you, for like bizarre stuff too.

Yeah, part of it is, “Hey, they know this is going to go up on the website. They want to show off their crazy idea.” So you post all these drawings on the website? Yeah. And then they share them with their friends. And then their friends come and they purchase cat drawings to outdo one another.

And there are some people who take this very seriously. You draw these yourself? I draw these myself. I sit down at a table and I take this person’s very personal request, let it play around in my head for about a minute, and then I can knock one of these out in about two minutes.

How leverageable is that? How many can you draw in a day? I can draw about 25 of these in an hour. In a week I can knock out about a thousand of these, but that’s just with me doing this by myself. You know, as this business grows because of the profit margin, it starts to pay for its own growth. So the really nice thing about this is I’m a web developer. When I’m not drawing cats, I’m building websites. So I don’t have that overhead that any other company would have.

What are your sales today? Okay, I’ve sold over 1,200 of these cats in what period of time – this is about a year. I’m looking at his website, man. He’s got, like, it appears that he’s done almost 22,000 of these. Goodness! That was early days, Shark Tank. And he charges $25 now to do one, and he says he only does one a day now. So maybe it swizzled, but that that’s a pitch man. That’s a song. That’s a pitch. Cool, interesting, weird.

You know it’s one of those businesses… I don’t spend too long on it, but opportunities to scale something like that, you’d have to hire artists, I suppose. And get enough marketing to make it make sense.

Let’s talk intellectual property. So I mean, I’m thinking patenting is just going to be so far out of the question. You’re just drawing. If there is… Oh, I’m struggling!

Think, like, what if he developed some, this hypothetical, right? What if he developed some artificial intelligence tool that he owned, right, that took his aesthetic, right, and applied it to people’s requests? You say, “I want a dancing cat,” or “I want a cat on a motorcycle.” It almost drew it – the aesthetic – it drew it because I know that the AI can do that now. And you know, would have to license the AI but it could use his kind of design cues.

I don’t know. You tell me. That sounds cool.

It sounds like, you know, you’re basically you could come up with your own font, right? If you just printed enough letters, right? This is like the thickness of the lines we use, this is the style, these are the colors, right? Here’s a portfolio of previous done images, right? Reference these kinds in your new design. Yeah. And, you know, AI can do that now which is crazy but, yeah, maybe that’s a way he could automate this.

Love that. Maybe that’s patentable. From a trademark perspective, I don’t think so. “I Want to Draw a Cat for You” is pretty descriptive, right? And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with just descriptive trademarks, but it’s merely descriptive. There’s nothing else there in that name.

You know it is extremely descriptive, right? Maybe the logo where he’s got his face, you know, on the logo is registerable but that’s about it.

Copyright for sure. So those artistic works happening here. So let’s – as soon as the artist, this guy, draws it, now if it’s on commission it gets a little bit more confusing. Let’s just start with the first order. As soon as you create something drawn, and it’s from your own mind, it’s yours. You have a copyright in that. And then so he would, in that case, for no matter what he makes.

But if a customer orders it and in their terms and conditions they’re designating it as a “work for hire,” correct – very specific legal language – that will, in a way, transfer ownership of the copyright, meaning any creative work that he makes under this contract belongs to you, the customer.

So I’m not sure how they would handle it. You know it depends on what kind of terms and conditions he’s got, but for the most part, I would assume if he’s selling it, he’s transferring all rights of that work.

I don’t know; I’m looking at his website, I’m looking at the terms and conditions, I’m getting an error. I don’t know if it’s a work Made For Hire or not. It would be smart of him, as part of that agreement – I’m just rambling a little – yeah, to retain a license to use for marketing purposes, to say right, and that seems like kind of what he’s doing, right? Because when he draws something, he posts it.

Yeah, so that’s probably true for most artists out there. If any of you are listening now, or after the fact, or 10 years from now creating things, you know that a sale is very interesting. You may want to be careful with that term and maybe work with an attorney, yes, an attorney to draft language. You know, kind of like how there are software licensing agreements, right? You know, they’re never really going to sell it to you; they’re licensing it to you under very… The biggest issue I see with artists is when they dabble in logo design and they want to own the logo. And that’s not something you as a trademark holder want.

Right, you want them to assign all rights to that design – copyright, trademark rights – to you as the owner. Right, the customer, right?

As a work Made For Hire, yes. And a lot of artists don’t like that idea, that they’re giving up their creation, right? When, in fact, that’s what you’re getting paid for.

Exactly, yeah. So right on. Well, we’re at the end of the hour. We’re going to – I’m putting this comment here, so for action takers, schedule a free 20-minute Discovery call and you get a copy of this copyrighted book “Bold Ideas: The Inventor’s Guide to Patents.”

Thank you, Matt, for going down that journey of weird and funny patents with me.

Oh, yeah, that’s what I do. Work up a little trademark deck for us, and we’ll go through that.

Yeah, I will. I will. Yeah, there’s plenty of weird trademarks out there. A lot of WI – are, you know, some inappropriate. We can find some, some PG-13 ones. Exactly, let’s find that. Let’s find that edge a little bit. Yeah, TV14. We’ll find that, you know, that edge. I like that. Thank you, man. And thank you all for listening.

If you miss us and you want to catch us live, we are here every Wednesday 1:30 Pacific and 4:30 on the East Coast for Matt and I, and Bold Patents wishes you guys a wonderful day. Go big, go bold.

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/