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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

[Music]

Next up is a product inspired by our new work-from-home lifestyle.

[Applause] [Music]

Parm: Hi Sharks, my name is Parm, like Parmesan. I know it’s cheesy. I’m from Sacramento, California, and the CEO of Mute Me.

Tye: And I’m Tye, like the tie that you wear. I’m also from Sacramento, California, and the CFO. We’re here today asking for $200,000 in exchange for 10% of our company, Mute Me.

Parm: Joining us virtually today are our two other co-founders and wives, H and Britney.

Handeep: Hi Sharks, I’m Handeep, the Chief Operating Officer at Mute Me.

Britney: And I’m Britney, the Chief Marketing Officer at Mute Me.

Tye: We wish we could be there in person.

Handeep: Yeah, right, they’re so lucky we let them on the tank. We’re the real talent. We should have been there.

Britney: Tell me about it. You know, it took Ty a month to memorize his five lines. I had them down in a day. We would have been flawless.

Parm and Tye: We can hear you!

Parm: Sharks, this is Mute Me, the world’s first illuminated mute button. You press Mute Me when you need to be muted, and the lights change color so it’s never disputed.

Tye: Tap it again when it’s your turn to speak, and the light stops you from letting the wrong words leak.

Parm: It’s a perfect tool when you’re multitasking or when you have a coworker like Mr. Wonderful who keeps on ranting. It helps others around you know if you’re busy—no more wondering, “Is he on a call?”

Tye: The stainless steel design is super neat, and custom engraving can’t be beat.

Parm: It’s the hottest product of the year—no more conference call slip-ups or fears.

Tye: Whether you’re working or learning, our button makes things easy. Don’t worry, we know this rhyme is pretty cheesy.

Parm: Sharks, we hope you counter pitch just a little bit funny, but unmute yourselves—it’s time to make some money.

Lori: Can you run through really quickly all the scenarios, just give me like four or five where you think someone would use this?

Tye: In 2020, one of the top phrases was “You’re on mute.” Many times, we’ve heard a dog bark, a doorbell ring, different scenarios while someone’s talking, and they don’t realize they’re on mute. Everyone’s trying to get their attention, and they just don’t have that indication.

Mark: Why not just do a browser extension and make it really big on the screen where everybody’s looking?

Parm: Because it takes up screen real estate. You don’t want to take up additional space on your screen. There are like eight different conferencing platforms, and when you’re interfacing with all those different platforms, it’s not easy. Our button plugs in, you press it, and it mutes and unmutes.

Demon: How much are you selling them for?

Tye: We’re selling them for $39 retail.

Demon: And what do they cost to make?

Parm: $16.20 right now.

Lori: How did you come up with this, and tell us about your background?

Parm: We actually have a mutual friend who came up with the idea. I worked on a remote working project with him two years ago, and Ty is a technical marketing manager at the largest all-remote company in the world. So, we decided to develop something ourselves. We prototyped it in about a month, launched on Kickstarter, and it just took off.

Tye: We did $145,000 on Kickstarter and $135,000 on Indiegogo, so $280,000 in crowdfunding.

Kevin: What about real sales? What’s happened since then?

Tye: We’ve done $61,000 in sales.

Kevin: How are you selling them?

Tye: On our website and in every Staples in the United States.

Demon: How have they sold in the last four weeks?

Tye: Just over 150 units.

JD: One of my pet peeves—do you have a provisional patent?

JD: No, we filed the provisional patent application, so it’s still pending. It might get rejected; it’s hard to say.

Matt: $200,000 is a lot of money for that device.

JD: Right, it’s kind of like a novelty, like the Staples Easy Button. It does have some utility, and this could actually be something that gets patent granted in the end. But we need to make sure this is a sizable enough market.

JD: What about trademarks? What do you think of something as descriptive as “Mute Me”?

Matt: It’s interesting. If both words are descriptive, the whole trademark is descriptive. The word “mute” is a function of what it does. “Me” isn’t really descriptive. Together, they were able to get the registration through the process.

Matt: This is one of the worst descriptions I’ve ever seen of a product at the USPTO. They didn’t have an attorney file the trademark application, so they did it themselves. Their registration certificate doesn’t clearly describe what this thing is. It’s a computer peripheral device, which is broad, but doesn’t convey the specific functionality.

JD: It could use some work. You want a very easy-to-understand and enforceable description.

Matt: This is a unique device with specific functionality. The inventors filed their trademark application off the menu at the USPTO. They should have submitted a TEAS regular application, which would have given more clarity.

JD: Let’s show this off. This is the World Intellectual Property PCT application filed back in 2022 for Mute Me. The applicant is Parm. This will be filed in many countries, and they can get the early filing date back to November 16, 2020.

JD: Each country will have to do their own examination. The beauty of the PCT is that they all point back to one international search, providing some savings.

Matt: I hope it went smoothly for them. As a trademark attorney doing international trademark applications, one mistake in a country can mean a lot of work.

JD: We could discuss the Madrid Protocol and PCT more.

Matt: Maybe you and I would learn something too.

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/