Some of the best inventions are simply re-inventions of ideas that have worked in the past. They come back around, but with a new, innovative twist -- such as with Razor ®.
Known for literally reinventing the wheel, Razor ® is a company that offers electric scooters, ride-ons, hoverboards, scooters and more.
Their claim to fame? Innovation spanning over 20 years.
Take the Razor Ripstik ® for example. At its core, the Ripstik is a skateboard. When you throw in the unique body design and optional electric motor -- you get a new and improved skateboard.
From the Ripstik to the Ripsurf, Razor took fun on sea and brought it to the land. The Ripsurf’s design allows riders to carve and cut like a real surfboard without being in the water.
So how is a company like Razor able to take what seems like someone else’s idea, make it their own, and receive a patent for it?
If you’re familiar with the USPTO's requirements needed to receive a patent, then you know that your invention must be:
We’re going to examine how Razor was able to pull off reinventing the skateboard with their Ripstik, by creating an invention that passed the USPTO's requirements.
The first requirement was easy to meet. To prove that the Ripstik was a statutory invention it needed to be able to fit in one of the four categories of patentable inventions: processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. It counts as a machine due to it consisting of parts, and of certain devices.
The next barrier is new. How was the Razor Ripstik considered new? Because, they reinvented the wheel -- literally. Ripstik is a new way to do an old thing. “A Ripstik is a very original design that has two articulated wheels that make it so much more maneuverable than a classic skateboard, longboard or a cruiser,” boasts Scooterlay.com.
That takes us to the requirement of being useful, which can be a pretty subjective term but the Patent Office allows this to be applied liberally. After all, not all people have the same use for things, but that’s okay. What’s important to the USPTO is that someone using the invention can immediately use the invention and does what it purports to do. The invention can not be useful theoretically, or in a future development --it must be able to be used once made available. And the Ripstik meets that requirement. Once you purchase it, you can hop right on and skateboard.
We’re down to the non obvious requirement, which means that the invention be a non-obvious improvement over the prior art. This is determined by deciding whether the invention would have been obvious "to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains."
What this means for Razor when applying for the Ripstik’s patent is that they had to prove that what they were seeking to patent would not have been obvious to do for the inventors of the skateboard. And seeing that the skateboard was invented in 1978, it is likely the inventor, Kerry W. Tibbals wasn't thinking about such advances with electricity and engineering.
Razor was able to define within the claims portion of the patent how it made a non-obvious advancement on the skateboard.
And that’s how they are able to put a new spin on an old invention, by finding a non obvious improvement and detailing it in the claims.
If you’re interested in making an improvement on a currently existing invention, you may be able to get a patent.
Most patents are improvements to existing products or methods including software.
You don’t want to proceed unprotected with the wrong assumption that your idea is not “different enough” without having a proper analysis of non-obviousness done.
About the Author
John Rizvi is a Registered and Board Certified Patent Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property Law, best-selling author, and featured speaker on topics of interest to inventors and entrepreneurs (including TEDx).
His books include "Escaping the Gray" and "Think and Grow Rich for Inventors" and have won critical acclaim including an endorsement from Kevin Harrington, one of the original sharks on the hit TV show - Shark Tank, responsible for the successful launch of over 500 products resulting in more than $5 billion in sales worldwide. You can learn more about Professor Rizvi his patent law practice
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I’ve helped hundreds of inventors successfully prosecute their patent applications, from initial filing to final award and look forward to helping you with your new idea.
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