Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Potatoes and Patents

Patents, Potatoes and Pomegranates 
“I remember thinking- there cannot be anything clever in delivering beans…”  That was the reaction of Lucy Wojcik in 2014 being interviewed for the job of IP attorney at Ocado, an online supermarket company in the United Kingdom.
It does furrow eyebrows when considering the part, if any, IP would play in a company that grows vegetables and fruits and then distributes them as meals, but now Ms Wojcik has a decidedly different view, https://patentstrategy.managingip.com/Articles/110?from=daily.  As she came to find out even in the supermarket business, “… as soon as you have problems that need solutions and engineers, you are generating IP.”
The Ocado and its emphasis on IP serves as today’s model of how to maintain a competitive presence today and tomorrow.  With very few exceptions, a company today needs a strong R&D/IP culture to survive.  It must be an integral of the conduct of business, a primary consideration in company strategic planning.  It should be the source of new, competitive products and services as well as the mechanisms for protecting those products from competitive inroads.  A comprehensive tour de force for the “how to” is Perpetual Innovation™ A guide to Strategic Planning. Patent Commercialization and Enduring Competitive Advantage by Hall & Hinkelman available at Amazon and Lulu.
Perpetual innovation™ Patent Guide & Patent Primer: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SBPlan

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Yeti, cool ideas and lots of patents

Yeti has a rather cool new cooler out, the Hopper(r) M30 uses a magnetic seal. Although it might be a bit gimmicky, it should work much better than the heavy (klunky) zippers. They say that it is nearly leak proof. GearJunky does a nice review of the M30. For $299.99 at high quality sporting goods stores like Dicks, you too can have one.

Yeti is a $2.5B market cap company, up about 70% from its IPO. It is hard to maintain a premium brand in an era of knock-offs. But Yeti is and continues to do so.  I got in on the IPO, sold half at a good profit, and held on through the couple rough patches for a consumer product like this. They came out early for better (sane-er?) gun controls, and had NRA members making a spectacle (viral videos) of throwing Yeti coolers in the dump. (That was an ugly couple days for the stock.)

In Sept. 2019, Yeti has just introduced a major line of coolers for "everyday bags" adventures and the Urban crawler: Crossroads(tm) backpacks and totes! Press release at Reuters. Big purse or a backpack. Not sure if it will replace your Prada, but it should keep your beer in the office cold. (Maybe that's one reason why Yeti stock popped about 8% on 9/4.)

"We already offer premium bags designed to excel in harsh outdoor conditions. But even the world's most extreme adventurers need something durable and comfortable to keep them organized during their daily commute," says YETI CEO, Matt Reintjes. "Our Crossroads bags offer YETI's signature durability and performance, but are designed for your everyday adventure." 

Yeti is a premium brand with a premium price, and everybody likes to do knock offs. Trademarks are helpful. A big patent portfolio is one way to keep the knock-offs at bay. Here's Yeti's patent page by product.

PatentBuddy summarizes Yeti patents:
257 active patents, with 34 applications.
Updated 9/5/2019.