I had an opportunity to talk with Julie and Tim Polanowski, Co-Founders of At Night Athletic LLC, about how they developed their patent portfolio.
They ran. Tim and Julie are runners. Inspired by real-life events, Tim wanted to run safely at night without adding reflective layers on top of his running clothes. Tim started “tinkering in the basement” and conceived a solution. Feeling they had a market changing invention, Tim, as both inventor and applicant, filed a provisional application describing a belt illumination device on May 26, 2015.
They ran some more. Patent applicants have a year between filing a provisional application and filing a non-provisional application to fine tune an invention. Tim and Julie described fun aspects of developing their first prototype. “We would wear them out in the neighborhood, and neighbors would say, ‘We saw you guys, all the way down the street.’” Inspired by this and other feedback, on October 7, 2015, Tim filed a non-provisional application based on the provisional application. However, while developing their belt illumination device, Tim and Julie “realized that the market didn’t want it.” Also, they “came up with so many more innovations,” which needed patent protection.
Patent applicants may file continuation “child” patent applications based on subject matter disclosed in a non-provisional “parent” patent application. In a continuation-in-part (CIP) child application, the claims supported by the parent application keep the parent application filing date. Claims that recite new subject matter, not disclosed in the parent application, assume the filing date of the new, CIP application. Tim filed a continuation-in-part (CIP) application on May 7, 2016, and explained that the CIP application “encompasses everything in the first one plus more.”
They kept running. Julie and Tim developed their invention. Tim spent “hours, and hours, and hours on YouTube” learning how to supply power to the illumination elements. Julie wore prototypes of the lighted running apparel at running festivals. She gained real-time feedback from potential consumers, who were drawn to her lighted running shorts. “I had my leg touched a lot.” They also worked with local industrial designer, Harbor Designs and Manufacturing, to identify how to scale up their inventions for manufacturing.
Julie and Tim developed their business in parallel with their products. They have executive level business experience, and looked to Baltimore resources, such as the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and TEDCO, for entrepreneurship guidance. They won a coveted spot with local incubator, Accelerate Baltimore in early 2018. The 13-week incubator program provided Julie and Tim with valuable mentorship, seed money, and business contacts. They learned how to pitch their illuminated athletic wear to investors.
The Accelerate Baltimore win affirmed for Julie and Tim the importance of protecting their inventions. Investors asked Julie and Tim about pending patent applications or issued patents. As Julie explained, “Investors are interested in the assets.” Tim added that investors wanted to know “what were the barriers of entry for other companies.” Investors expected entrepreneurs to protect their intellectual property as a matter of due diligence.
They keep running. Julie and Tim are in beta testing and finalizing manufacturing design. Their patent application filings comprise a provisional application, a non-provisional application based on the provisional application, a continuation-in-part application, and a separate patent application describing wireless aspects of the illuminated athletic wear. What’s more, their patent portfolio continues to grow. Julie and Tim do not rule out filing design patents or additional patent applications, as appropriate.
I want to thank Julie and Tim Polanowski of At Night Athletic LLC for sharing their entrepreneurship story. Julie and Tim put their feet to the pavement, literally and figuratively, to develop their products, business, and patent portfolio. To learn more about their journey, how to be a beta tester, or when their products will be on the shelves, please visit http://atnightathletic.com/.
Hutchison Law, LLC has experience with patent portfolios. To learn more about how we prepare and file patent applications, please contact us at 410-978-7287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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