Saturday, August 17, 2019

"Invalidated" - A Homeschooling Family's Dream Turned Upside Down...

Many of you may have benefited this summer (and past ones) from the Bunch O Balloons (Zuru) invention which allows children to fill up a large quantity of balloons in an incredibly short amount of time.  Not only do the balloons fill up, but they drop off already tied and ready to go.  Absolutely BRILLIANT!  Parenting, at least during the spring and summer months, just got a little bit easier (or a lot depending on how many days per week your children ask you to fill and tie their water balloons for them).

What many of you may NOT know is that the inventor, Josh Malone and his homeschooling family,  have been battling in courts over a period of years now.  The issue?  His hard work and achievement were targeted by others who wished to steal his design and benefit from it.  You'd think that his patent would protect him, but you would be wrong.  It borders on the ridiculous what this family has had to endure in order to try to protect and fight for his invention. 

The patent he worked so hard for is pretty much pointless.  While courts sided with the Malone family, the large company trying to steal Josh's design took their argument to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) trying to prove that one cannot know when a water balloon is "substantially filled" as Josh's patent claimed.  Incredibly, the board sided with the large company and said they could now copy Josh's design.  And if you think this is an isolated incident...well, I'd just encourage you to take a deeper look at our country's PTAB (the film below contains some alarming statistics and information). 

It is a tragic story but one that should really be heard as it illuminates a very broken patent system.  Did you know that while the United States once used to be a leader in the patent system, we have now apparently dropped to number 12 in rank behind other countries?!  What this is beginning to mean for many inventors is that they might be better served by taking their inventions to another country for protection and development.   I don't know about you, but I find that quite disturbing.  And it is happening now.  Inventors are being faced with these decisions.  How many medical and technological advances might be lost to other countries if ours allows this sort of behavior by the PTAB and larger companies to continue?

Consider the time that our inventors spend in courts trying to protect their patents instead of investing those years in more inventions which benefit our society.  Quite honestly, if you were an inventor, do you  think you would even want to invent something again after having your other patents marked as invalid when a larger company sees a profit to be made and takes their arguments to the PTAB?  And what of the expenses involved for inventors, especially if they have to go to court and/or the PTAB (at which point, they could be looking at hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars needed to keep fighting). 

"Invalidated" is a film which exposes what the Malone family and others have had to endure and is well worth watching and sharing!  We benefit from the ingenuity and creativity of inventors.  Isn't it time we supported them as well?

Note:  If you have an Amazon Prime membership, I believe you might be able to view the film for free.