Is “the cloud” a safe place for inventors?

Obviously we all know there are clouds, and god know many inventors live with their head in them – but what do they mean when they talk about computing in the clouds?

At its most basic level, the “cloud” is simply the data storage portion of the Internet. A vast array of servers around the world that store data and talk to one another. If a document is stored, or a task is being performed in the cloud, it means that file or application “lives” on a server you access remotely rather than on a local device like your computer.


This is really nothing new. For years, there have been services that would back up your files to a distant server. Web-based email programs, like Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, are familiar examples of cloud-based applications. These programs live on remote servers, not your PC, and you access them through a Web browser.

What is new is the trend being created by hardware that in many ways forces us to use the “Cloud” instead of storing things on our own equipment. There are several new computers coming out that have as little as 16 Gigs of storage – about the same as two cell phones. This lack of storage will simply force the user to store data in the cloud rather than their hard-drive.

Is this good or bad for inventors? I guess that depends on how you feel about the security of the cloud, and other people’s ability to access the information you load onto it. It could be notes about your invention, or drawings, or even a list of inventions you are working on. All stored in a place none of us really know called a “Cloud”

I don’t know that I would ring the alarm bells just yet, but I would know it’s happening around you, and you may want to do a little homework on the security issues associated with this rapidly growing trend. After all, it’s your data, you should know how secure it is at all times.

Mark Reyland

Show your product to HSN today!

BREAKING NEWS: My Cool Inventions Radio Signs Innovation Partnership With HSN! 


If we told you your product (and maybe you) could appear on television in as many as 95 million homes and generate millions in sales would we get your attention? – Of course we would.

It’s true!

My Cool Inventions radio is announcing the new “Genesis Search For The Next Top Invention” contest in partnership with The Home Shopping Network (HSN).

Longtime inventor advocates Akos Jankura and John Cremeans have teamed up with HSN to search for the next big hit using the Genesis search model successfully pioneered on the My Cool Inventions Radio show.

During the search, participants will pitch their product to hundreds of thousands of radio listeners each week.  The listeners vote, and those selected in each round are invited back for the next round.

That’s not all – the quarter finals, semi-finals, and finals will be broadcast not only on My Cool Inventions Radio, but on the new MCI Television platform and each product in the finals will be presented for consideration to the HSN buyers.

But the final winner? Well, you’ll be given a purchase order and an on air date to sell the product on HSN – LIVE!

Here’s what to do…..

1] Fill out application form at – Remember, the judges will use the information in your application to select contestants for the program so make it as complete as possible.

2] Use your cell phone or video camera to record yourself “pitching” your product. It doesn’t have to be professional, but the winners may end up on television so we want to see how your pitch looks. Keep it short and concise. Tell us the value of your product, how it functions, and give us a reason to purchase.

3] Sit back and tune into My Cool Inventions Radio to see the Genesis contest unfold and track your progress.

The contest starts Monday July 6th. So don’t wait another second click here to find out more, or go to and submit your invention!

I have a Patent – consider yourself on notice.

One of the issues with inventing products is of course the intellectual property – Patents, Trademarks, & Copyrights.

Applying for, and receiving a patent isn’t always the best step for a product inventor. However, should you chose to go that way you must understand that having a patent and telling the world you have a patent are two entirely different things.

The law requires you notify the public of your patent or face the chance that if you are infringed upon, the damages recovered may be significantly lower.

Not long ago I was speaking at a tradeshow for the “End of Life” industry. To say I was a fish out of water would be an understatement. Having long ago gotten used to wearing a suit to speaking engagements, imagine my surprise when I quickly noticed that the impeccably dressed funeral industry does not wear suits to their events. In fact, they use such events to relax, let their collective hair down, and drink heavily.


Wandering the show floor it was obvious the funeral industry is hyper competitive. After all, they have a limited number of products, wide profit margins, and a huge market for their services. To keep that competitive edge they often rely on patents, so infringement on what appears to be about 250,000 related patents is sure to be a problem.

I snapped this picture on the show floor because it struck me as a truly unique way of putting this company’s competitors on notice. A unique approach? truly, but does it serve the legal requirement for notification? Not really – they must still abide by 35 U.S. Code § 287 – the Marking Statute.

Don’t get me wrong, any notification of intellectual protection, both pending and awarded, is a good thing to get in the habit of doing. Just remember following the requirements of 35 U.S. Code 287 is always your best defense against an infringer’s claim they didn’t know.

So, while you want to put the world on notice that your product is either patented, or patent pending, there is the giant tradeshow poster method (hey, it can’t hurt) and then there is the law requiring you to use a standard marking method.

Below is and excerpt of the Marking Statute and a link to the actual statute provided by Cornell University Law School.


To be entitled to damages, the patentee must comply with the patent marking statute. This statute requires:

Patentees, and persons making, offering for sale, or selling within the United States any patented article for or under them or importing any patented article into the United States, may give notice to the public that the same is patented, either by fixing thereon the word “patent” or the abbreviation “pat.”, together with the number of the patent, or when, from the character of the article, this cannot be done, by fixing to it, or to the package wherein one or more of them is contained, a label containing a like notice.

35 U.S.C. § 287(a). The marking statute serves the purpose of allowing the public to readily identify the intellectual property status of articles in commerce and to prevent innocent infringement. If a party fails to comply with this provision, it may still be entitled to recover money damages if it provides actual notice to the infringing party. The notice requirement under the marking statute provides:

In the event of failure to so mark, no damages shall be recovered by the patentee in any action for

infringement, except on proof that the infringer was notified of the infringement and continued to infringe thereafter, in which event damages may be recovered only for infringement occurring after such notice.

Inventors are mentally ill

Are most inventors really mentally ill? Probably not, but I can attest that there are those in our industry who likely have some level of mental illness. I suspect that’s true in any industry since an industry is simply a subset of the population.

So what then causes one to become an inventor?


I have no clue – but I do know it’s not some life changing event like losing your job, or suddenly facing the fact that you only have so much time left to leave your stamp on the world. You also don’t become an inventor one day when you get a good idea and watch an episode of Shark Tank for the 300th time.

You see, like all the creative fields (writing, music, art….)inventing is somehow programmed into our DNA.

Sure, some people wake up in their forties and decide they want to be an inventor, just as others always wanted to sing. But can they ever expect to be really good?  While anything can happen – when’s the last time you saw someone start a signing career in midlife and go on to have long-lasting commercial success? It could happen, but it doesn’t normally happen.

Inventing is the same way. Sure, you can have a great idea, spend a lot of money, and eventually sell a few. Just as I can record a song, build a website and eventually I will sell a few – but does that make me a recording artist?

Like I admitted earlier – I don’t have a clue what makes someone an inventor. But I can tell you that if you are really an inventor you knew it since you were a young child – and your actions over all those years made everyone around you know it as well.

To those of you who had your first taste of inventing later in life I say: Play responsibly, but take your shot, for you will never know if you don’t try and you could be the one who defies the odds. When it’s over, be happy for the ride and take pride in your efforts.

But to those of you who know you are an inventor in your heart, feel it in your soul, and have been grounded for destroying one of your mother’s appliances. I say: You have been selected to make a difference in the world around you, and your time is yet to come.

Mark Reyland

But what is Fulfillment?

In the big picture of retail product sales, sandwiched right between the factory and the store is a process called Fulfillment. Most inventors have no idea what the fulfillment process is all about, yet it’s one of the most important processes involved in retail sales.

Getting a product to market requires many steps. It requires Market research, Product development, Manufacturing , Packaging, Display, Sales, and yes, Fulfillment. Each of these is a complex set of processes that build on each other until you have achieved a manufacturable, sellable, fullfillable product.


Let me be clear – most retailers (of any size) will require some form of fulfillment center to handle their order. Retailers do not sell to inventors fulfilling orders from their basements. This makes the fulfillment process a very important of your success – so spending time developing a good fulfillment partner will be well worth it in the end.

But what can that fulfillment partner do to help me? Good Question.  They can handle many of the smaller steps needed to hold up your end of a purchase order.  Many of the items listed below can be accomplished through a good fulfillment partner.

  • Coordination of manufacturing
  • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
  • Vendor registration
  • Stock financing
  • Importing goods
  • Freight movements
  • Retailer distribution
  • Product Sales
  • Sales Rep management
  • Reporting, accounting & auditing
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Billing/collecting retailers
  • Product returns
  • Product liability insurance

Not all fulfillment centers offer all of these services. However, in most larger fulfillment companies you can choose as many or as few of these services as you like.

How do they make their money? Another good question. The fulfillment company normally gets paid based on a percentage of the per piece cost from the factory. We call this the “Landed” price because it includes product, packaging, display, and freight to the fulfillment center.

On the low end of these fulfillment services is what we call turning freight.  Turning Freight is when a fulfillment center simply brings in the goods, stores them, and ships them back out when you ask them. Fulfillment in that case may cost you about 15% of your factory delivered price.  ($1.00 landed + (15%) .15 = $1.15 fulfilled cost per unit)

The other end of the scale may include more involved services such as financing, registering EDI, billing retailers, collection/disbursements of funds, product liability insurance, and shipping. Obviously a lot more work, and your cost may increase to as much as 40%. ($1.00 landed + (40%) .40 = $1.40 fulfilled cost per unit)

While each case is different -these are the basic part of the fulfillment process. The often mundane tasks that have to be done to complete the full cycle of retail. Without them major retailers will never take you seriously – and even the best product, the highest quality, the greatest inventions will never see the store shelf.

Mark Reyland

Inventor wins 1.5 Million law suit against Sears

Back in 2011 I wrote a blog about a product created by an inventor in Seattle Washington called Lucky Break Wishbones. ( You can see by this article posted on their website, that some companies do act poorly in dealing with inventors.  But if you fight for your rights you can come out on top – and that’s not just luck.

Attorney Gains One of the Largest Awards Ever in a Copyright Suit for Lucky Break Wishbone Inventor

A plastic Thanksgiving turkey wishbones selling for $.99 each really turned out to be worth $1.7 million to a Seattle company.


The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed an award of $1.7 million to Lucky Break Wishbone Corporation over retailer Sears, Roebuck and Co. and advertising giant Young & Rubicam, Inc. The decision was seen as a victory for U.S.-based intellectual property rights and small business competing in a global environment.

The copyright case concerned the plastic turkey bones used in a Thanksgiving promotion for Sears and was argued for Lucky Break by Frommer Lawrence & Haug attorney, Mark P. Walters.

Lucky Break first filed its suit, alleging that Young & Rubicam approached Lucky Break to express interest in distributing their wishbones as part of a Thanksgiving promotion for Sears. Lucky Break provided a sample of the product – a plastic wishbone able to break like a real wishbone – and prepared to manufacture one million wishbones, but no deal was reached.

Lucky Break later determined that Sears had hired a company called Apex Products LLC to produce the wishbones in China for the Sears WISH BIG campaign, which Lucky Break said were “substantially similar or virtually identical” to its copyrighted product, which is proudly made in the USA. Sears and Young & Rubicam maintained that the wishbone used in their promotion was an imitation of a real turkey bone, rather than any competing plastic wishbone.

The matter was brought to trial, where a jury in the district court ruled that Sears had infringed Lucky Break Wishbone Corp.’s copyright on their wishbone design. The jury also ruled that both Sears and Young & Rubicam had infringed Lucky Break’s copyrighted product warning statement.

Key testimony was provided by an expert in avian osteology, or bird bones, who testified that Lucky Break’s product differs substantially from actual turkey bones. Specifically, seven different artistic features of design make Lucky Break’s wishbone unique.

As a result, the osteologist argued, Sears’ plastic wishbone could not have been copied from nature and instead must have been copied based on Lucky Break’s product. The district court agreed with the osteologist’s determination.

The court denied Sears’ appeal over the initial ruling, resulting in one of the largest-ever awards for indirect profits from an infringing advertisement or promotion.

Inventor of the Pink Flamingo dies

You could be an inventor, an artist, or a plumber, but chances are at some point in your life you’ve run across the iconic plastic pink flamingo. As NPR points out in this article, the things that bring a smile to our face often start in the mind of a creative person like Donald Featherstone.

If you’ve got a plastic pink flamingo on your lawn, give it a pat on the back. The man who designed the lawn art, Donald Featherstone, has died. He was 79.

His wife, Nancy, tells The Associated Press that Featherstone died Monday and that he had battled Lewy body dementia.Untitled-4

A trained sculptor with a background in classical art, Featherstone created the now-ubiquitous pink flamingo in 1957, based on a photo he saw in National Geographic. The flamingo ornament was one of hundreds of items he made for the Union Products plastics company in Leominster, Mass. The AP reports that Featherstone spent 43 years with the company, “rising to the position of president before his retirement in 1999.”

Featherstone gave an interview to the Leominster Champion in 2006 and talked about how he got his start:

” ‘A friend of mine worked at the Worcester Art museum. He got a call from Union Products asking if they knew anyone who could sculpt and design plastic items. They were making flat plastic ornaments at first and were looking to go three dimensional,’ he recalled.

“[Featherstone] took the job after, ‘a great fear of starving to death. My friend said plastic places will prostitute my work and I’d make no money, but it was worth a try.’

“The first items Union Products had him work on were a girl with a water can and a dog with a boy.

” ‘Then they asked me to work on a duck, so I went to buy a real duck to study. I named him Charlie. When I had the plastic duck done, I set him free in Cogshall Park. They then asked me to do a flamingo,’ he said.

” ‘You can’t go locally and buy a flamingo, so I got some books, and one that had some good shots was National Geographic. I made the silhouette, then put on the clay and that’s how it all got started.’ “

Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzorella called Featherstone a “local classic.”

Nancy Featherstone told The Guardian in 2013 that she and her husband had worn matching outfits for 35 years. At first, she said, they wore matching tops that Nancy made herself.

“Then Donald suggested I make our bottom halves match, too, so we started amassing a whole wardrobe of clothes,” she told the newspaper. “Initially we matched only at weekends, but as I grew adept at making more complex garments, such as jackets, sweaters and coats, we decided to go full-time with our identical look. We never needed to go clothes shopping again.”

Donald Featherstone told the Leominster Champion:

“I loved what I did, it’s all happy things. You have to figure, my creations were not things people needed in life, we had to make them want them. Things I did made people happy, and that’s what life is all about.”



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