Thursday, October 4, 2012

Patent Q&A Part 1

Q. What kind of patent does FuzziBunz have?

A. There are several different TYPES of patents.  A "utility patent" is a patent that protects how a product works and functions.  A "design patent" protects the design aspects of a product such as a snap configuration or a pattern.  FuzziBunz holds a UTILITY patent which means a baby diaper that has a method of inserting a removable absorbent insert that has a polyester high pile wicking fabric to keep babies bottom dry.

FuzziBunz Related:

Myth: The patent protects a pocket at the back (leading edge) of the diaper so by moving the pocket elsewhere or a few inches down gets around the patent.

Fact: It is irrelevant where the opening is and what is a  "leading edge" anyway?  If it were a design patent this would hold true, but it is not.  It is a utility patent. Leading edge simply means somewhere in the vicinity of the back, front or side of the diaper. 

Q.  Pocket diapers existed before FuzziBunz how can you have a patent on that?

A.  This is true, there were diapers with pockets in them prior to FuzziBunz, and this information needs to be disclosed in the patent office and has been.  It is patent law that any "prior art" must be cited in a patent application and if found after the fact, still must be disclosed by the applicant via special process or one risks having their patent invalidated.  However it is not just a pocket that is patented it is a combination of a pocket to insert something that is absorbent into and the fleece that makes the product work and gives it the utility to keep wetness away from a babies skin.  It is the two features together (amongst others) that are patented, not one or the other.  There were no pocket diapers (or any diapers to my knowledge) using fleece as an inner layer prior to FuzziBunz or a patent would not have been issued.  It does not cover pocket diapers with flat material as the top layer or non polyester / piled knitted like hemp.  It also does not cover an all in one diaper that has a fleece layer on the top. Its about the combination of features that make the product function in a particular way. 

Q. Are patents global?

A. There are no global patents - however you can apply for international protection through a different process when filing an application.  This allows you to chose which countries you wish to have protection in.  The original FuzziBunz patent is only a US patent.  Other patents pending are filed under the international option. 

Q. What patents do you have and what is pending?

A.  I have a patent on the original pocket diaper which was granted in 2003.  However in 2003 we also applied to continue the patent application to help further define the claims.  THIS is still pending!   I am also patent pending on our One Size design using adjustable AND removable / elastic which was filed under international status. No other diaper has completely non-sewn in elastic that can be easily removed when it wears out to give the diaper a longer life. 

Q. How does a patent actually work?

A. Well, an inventor files paperwork disclosing their invention to the patent office, and they take 3-4 years to process that application and decide if the invention should be granted a patent.  If so they are protected for 17 years.  However in those 3-4 years under a pending patent there is not much protection so this opens the market up for many similar products to be launched.  Once the patent is granted it will then take the inventor tons of money to then stop the look a likes and prove that they are infringing.  It is a FLAWED system!   So do patents actually work?  Sometimes. But it takes more than a good patent for a product to succeed.  

Q. How do you effectively enforce a patent?

A.  First you must always be pursuing patent protection and you must do it universally.  While it seems we have not been protecting our patent, in fact we have, just not in public.  And once the public acts of patent protection starts, it must be enforced universally.  You can not pick and choose who needs to stop, who needs to pay and who you will ignore and let go on.  Unfortunately to be effective and not lose credibility every product that is being made that may infringe needs to be treated equally.  By showing favoritism to some and not others it weakens the credibility and the validity of the patent.  If the patent holder ignores the little guy and sues the big companies - the bigger companies defense will be "they don't enforce their patent rights so I should not have to abide either" and that is exactly what we don't want to see happen.   Its complicated and confusing to many, I know.  


  1. Getting a patent is SO crazy expensive too! I just looked into the matter because I had an idea I think is marketable and as far as I know is original, but there is no way I could begin to afford to apply for a patent! I don't know how anyone can afford to be a freelance inventor. You need a huge corporation backing you to pay for the patent stuff.

  2. What about the adjustable elastic patent? Word around the campfire is that you are infringing on that patent?! Can you clarify this please?

  3. My patent is for REMOVABLE elastic, not elastic that is sewn in which gives the product a complete different utility. I am aware of the "campfire" and I address the proper way to pursue these things in part 2 publishing on Monday.

  4. Will you be taking action on any of the people telling these tales at the campfire?

    1. That depends, it is pretty serious to go around accusing someone of theft when it has not been proven by law. If it continues yes I will.