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Posts Tagged: "Bunch O Balloons"

Congress Must Work to Understand the Language of Inventors

One of the more dramatic moments in my $20 million dollar patent brawl occurred in the pivotal preliminary injunction hearing at the courthouse in downtown Tyler, Texas. I learned that Walmart was coming to monitor the proceedings. I think they were curious to meet the crazy inventor who dared to sue the largest retailer on the planet. The proposal on the table was that I dismiss the suit with prejudice (i.e., drop the suit and waive all my rights) or else Walmart would never buy another product from my exclusive licensee, Zuru—no balloons, no robotic fish, no dart guns. Distraught, I hid in a side room and didn’t show for the meeting where my lawyers had advised me to capitulate. Curiosity heightened; the Walmart attorney unexpectedly suspended all demands and invited me to sit down and explain my point of view. I pointed to the infringing spiral-faced Battle Balloons and told her they were selling my invention without permission, thereby harming me and my family. The Walmart attorney was flummoxed and suggested that I didn’t understand how the patent system worked and was overreaching. Here I was claiming to have invented this apparatus that looked different than mine. It had a spiral face and mine was flat. This is the problem with our patent system; it is run by people who don’t understand invention. Think about it, we have to use this bizarre legal document not only to describe our discovery but to describe the boundaries of it. For inventors, there are no boundaries—why would we stop applying and extending our discoveries? We do our best to describe it, but in the end, non-inventors write and interpret the laws that determine our rights.

Win in Water Balloon Battle Suggests Hope for Patent Owners at PTAB

IPWatchdog’s coverage of the November 2017 Bunch O Balloons district court trial left off with an Eastern District of Texas jury awarding $12.3 million in damages to patent owner Tinnus Enterprises and its partner ZURU against major U.S. telemarketing firms Telebrands and its subsidiaries. The jury found that Telebrands had willfully infringed Tinnus’ patents that protected Tinnus’ Bunch O Balloons invention, and that those patents were not invalid. But even with the November 2017 jury award in place, Tinnus still faced the upcoming specter of patent validity trials for which Telebrands had petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for the patents-in-suit. Additionally, the Eastern District of Texas had not yet ruled on post-trial motions regarding the jury’s verdict.

Apple is Afraid of Inventors, Not Patent Trolls

Apple made headlines with its recent decision to close its stores in Frisco and my home town of Plano, Texas. The rumor is that Apple was afraid of the dreaded “patent troll.” However, Apple is not afraid of patent trolls. They are afraid of inventors. Whenever you hear the term patent troll, think of inventors. Inventors like my friend Bob Short, who solved an important technical problem in 1998 with his invention—a protocol that encrypts real-time audio and video transmissions. Apple wanted his technology for their FaceTime app, so they took it. Bob’s company, VirnetX, has spent six years trying to stop them and make them pay. Meanwhile Apple, Google, and other tech titans have spread propaganda and paid lawyers, academics, lobbyists, and politicians to destroy the U.S. patent system.

The Most Iconic (and Patented) Toys and Games of All Time

Since America’s earliest days, a lot of creative and innovative toys have come through the consumer marketplace. Many becoming so iconic they have become household names and synonymous with a moment in time for America’s youth. Some of the most popular of these toys that continue to show up year after year under Christmas trees were patented… It wouldn’t be a traditional Christmas at IPWatchdog unless we spent some time profiling some cool innovations that relate to the holiday season. So today, I return to one of our all time favorite articles. Five years ago we published The Top 10 Most Iconic (and Patented) Toys and last year we published The Most Iconic (and Patented) Games. With Christmas firmly in mind, it is time to revisit and expand these lists. When initially published some truly iconic classic toys and games were inexplicably left missing. So, with the hours winding down before Santa Claus makes his way down chimneys across the world, join us as we look back at some of the most popular toys and games of all time, as well as the patents behind them.

The Inventor Protection Act: Needed Momentum or More Harm than Good?

Recently, the Inventor Protection Act, H.R.6557, was introduced to Congress.  It’s a very well intentioned piece of proposed legislation.  However, it may actually do more harm than good to efforts to strengthen patent rights in the aftermath of the AIA. We need to fix what is wrong with the patent system for everyone, not merely carve out exceptions for a few.  Is H.R.6557 a step in the right direction, gaining momentum for stronger patent property rights for everyone, or will it harm the ability to reach that goal?  We think the answer is clear that H.R. 6557 as written doesn’t do what the patent laws were intended to do.

In Tinnus v. Telebrands, Federal Circuit Reverses PTAB’s Finding of Indefiniteness After PTAB Erred in Packard Analysis

On Wednesday, May 30th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit entered a decision in Tinnus Enterprises v. Telebrands Corporation which reversed and remanded an earlier decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to invalidate a patent covering the award-winning Bunch O Balloons toy developed by inventor Josh Malone. The Federal Circuit panel of Circuit Judges Kathleen…

Telebrands loses $12.3 million verdict for willful patent infringement of Bunch O Balloons

On November 21st, a jury verdict entered in the Eastern District of Texas awarded $12.3 million in damages to Tinnus Enterprises and ZURU Ltd. in a patent infringement case against major U.S. telemarketing firms Telebrands and its subsidiary Bulbhead.com. The verdict, which also carries a finding of willful infringement of the patents-in-suit, further upheld the validity of patents owned by Tinnus in stark contrast to findings which have issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) on those patents.

PTAB, Patent Trolls, Bad Patents, and Data: A Wakeup Call to AIA Apologists

Of the 1,582 patents with a final written decision, 1,343 were found to have defects by the PTAB. That is an 85% defect rate. Only 239 patents were affirmed to be fully compliant with the statutes by the PTAB. Yet the Office of Patent Quality Assurance (OPQA) claims a 6-8% defect rate… 263 patents were found valid in full and fair trials in a court of law and also tried in the shortcut infringer-biased PTAB. Only 63 of them got the same results in both venues. The other 200 the PTAB came to a different conclusion. If the courts are correct then the PTAB is wrong 76% of the time.

USPTO files brief at CAFC supporting patent-infringing respondent Telebrands

Tinnus argues in its appeal that the PTAB panel applied standards for inter partes review (IPR) proceedings to a trial that was instituted as a PGR. “In its institution decision, the Board incorrectly applied the lower ‘reasonable likelihood’ standard used for IPRs, rather than the higher ‘more likely than not’ standard governing PGRs,” Tinnus’ appeal reads, adding that the PTAB panel didn’t recognize this error in its final written decision.

USPTO, PTAB refuse to follow Supreme Court Nautilus decision

The PTAB is openly refusing to follow the Supreme Court’s decision in Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., it has found a term previously determined definite by the Federal Circuit to be indefinite, and the Solicitor’s Office is siding with an infringer with a reputation as a knock-off artist over an independent inventor… But why doesn’t the USPTO follow Nautilus? Because the Patent Office feels that since they apply the broadest reasonable interpretation to claims that means that the indefiniteness standard set forth by the Supreme Court in Nautilus does not apply to the Office. Breathtaking!

$17 million: The real and staggering cost to patent in the US in the PTAB age

At least $17 million. That is what my Bunch O Balloons patent has cost so far. It could grow to $50 million. Yes, we are talking about water balloons, not smartphones. How can this be? Because the patent grant issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office means nothing to infringers like Telebrands and Walmart. They simply ignore the patent and rush to take over the market with their knock-offs (Balloon Bonanza in 2015, Battle Balloons in 2016, and Easy Einstein Balloons in 2017). Then they use those revenues to hire attorneys and experts to say the patent is invalid. If the patent owner lacks deep pockets or good lawyers, his patent will not survive. If he does have access to infinite funds, he has about a 5 percent chance of survival thanks to the America Invents Act (AIA) and the USPTO’s implementation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Water Balloons, Weapons of Mass Destruction and the PTAB

The Federal Circuit, while deciding a preliminary injunction was properly granted, addressed the PTAB decision in its oral arguments and in its decision. In oral arguments Judge Moore stated, “You have to be able to say substantially, ‘cause there’s a million patents that use the word substantially.” And in their written decision the Federal Circuit explained: “We find it difficult to believe that a person with an associate’s degree in a science or engineering discipline who had read the specification and relevant prosecution history would be unable to determine with reasonable certainty when a water balloon is “substantially filled.”