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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

JD: Thanks for coming to our show. Hi, nice to meet you.

Nami: Nice to meet you. I’m excited to be here.

JD: I see above you a patent. It looks like you’ve got at least one patent to your name, is that right?

Nami: Yes, that’s one of my patents.

JD: Awesome. Tell us a little bit about your company first. You’ve got ND Products, right?

Nami: Exactly right. Yes, that’s my company. I founded this company back in 2016 after a series of successes in entrepreneurship and invention. I decided to establish this company, and since then, I’ve been developing the company and our products and innovations. Today, we are in many markets, including the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and a couple of other markets. It’s been a long journey.

JD: So not an overnight success, right?

Nami: Oh, no. That’s something I always tell others who are at the beginning of this journey: never look at it as an overnight success. It takes a lot of time and effort. You really have to love what you’re doing to accomplish what you’re planning to do.

JD: That’s a golden nugget right there. Could you repeat that?

Nami: One of the things I always discuss with other inventors or entrepreneurs is that you should never look at it as an overnight success. Even if you think about the American Dream happening quickly, it’s not like that. It will take a long time and a lot of effort. To really go through this journey, you have to love what you’re doing. It’s a labor of love, and that’s how you can really take your time, put in the effort, and achieve what you’re looking for in this field.

JD: Let’s say there’s someone out there in the healthcare field with a product or device they want to get started on, and they’re inspired by you. They’re wondering how to get started. Bring us back to that first win, if you will. What was that moment when you thought, “This is something special, I’m going to do this”?

Nami: I remember the very first moment was when I learned that using a cotton swab in your ear is bad for you. You’re not supposed to put it in your ear.

JD: Hold on, I do that all the time. My wife says not to, but I always do.

Nami: A lot of people think that way. The problem is that cotton swabs were invented back in 1921, and for over a century, people have been using them the same way. For the last 20 years, people have started to pay more attention to this issue. I was one of the first to focus on this area because I was puzzled by the fact that doctors said not to put cotton swabs in your ear, yet everyone still did it.

Nami: So, I looked more closely at the packaging. For example, Q-tips say “do not put it in your ear canal.” The question got bigger for me. As an inventor and someone who is curious, I had to get to the bottom of this. I talked to people, doctors, and checked the products in the ear care section. I realized this was an area that nobody really cared about that much.

Nami: Back in my time, if you Googled “ear cleaner,” only cotton swabs would pop up. I had campaigns about it, and it became like a life mission for me. I found that it was a big and common issue, so I thought people should start caring about it. Even some doctors weren’t ready to talk about it because everyone treated it as a myth. The doctor would say, “just come to our office, and we’ll wash your ear,” which is an uncomfortable and messy process that takes a lot of time and money.

Nami: I thought maybe, as a designer and inventor, this was my route. The more I looked into it, the more I found a need for a good product in this market. The existing products were hazardous, like tiny rods that could puncture your eardrum with a small accidental movement.

Nami: I started developing a product to solve the issue in the simplest way. People are busy and don’t enjoy these processes, so I thought the simplest method would be the spiral method for ear cleaning. I patented this method, and the result was the Smart Swab, the world’s first spiral safe ear cleaner.

Nami: In 2014, I attended a big invention show, won a gold medal, and received recognition. That recognition was very helpful because inventorship and entrepreneurship can be lonely. It gave me the energy to keep going. I launched the product in 2015, and by 2016, it became a big hit, reaching many chain stores like CVS and Bed Bath & Beyond.

JD: How did it become a big hit? Did you get on a shopping channel, or how did you market the invention?

Nami: I partnered with a large marketing company with extensive distribution across the country and abroad. They were very helpful in bringing it to the market, especially for chain stores. It takes a big company to handle distribution and meet their standards. However, I had to agree to give away a significant portion of my interest because I couldn’t do it by myself.

JD: Can you share the name of the marketing company?

Nami: The marketing company should be on the package, but I’m no longer doing business with them. One downside of big companies is that you’re not their only business. For me, this product was everything, but for them, it was just one of many products. Unfortunately, sometimes these companies are careless and take on more than they can handle, compromising the brand. I had issues with counterfeits and copycats.

JD: Did you go through the process of getting a federal trademark on your Smart Swab?

Nami: Yes, I had all the necessary patents and trademarks. One advantage of what you’re doing is getting prepared to go to these companies. Big companies like to see you having patents and trademarks during the transaction. However, the patent office only processes documents; enforcing those documents requires attorneys. Many inventors don’t know this, so it’s great to have patents, but you have to maintain them well, especially with many countries trying to copy things in the US market. It can be overwhelming to deal with everyone.

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/