Tidy Trax is a company that sells an overshoe made primarily from an EVA foam. They have two patents, US7188438B1 and US8215030B2, the latter being a continuation-in-part of the former. The overshoe has a unique design that allows it to grab a customer’s shoe hands free via a plurality of nubs. This may be of immediate benefit to people in various service industries, including plumbers, contractors, electricians, and the like. Additionally, the overshoe may be beneficial to customers with difficulty bending over or to those who simply like to keep their shoes clean while working around the house.
While Tidy Trax has done a good job protecting their product, their patents face certain limitations. First, their patents are set to expire in approximately seven years. Secondly, their patents may not be written broadly enough such that there are workarounds. For example, the patents have a limited disclosure of the types of materials that may be included in the overshoe. Thus, a competitor may file a patent for a similar piece of footwear having different, more specific materials with varying functionality (e.g., chemical resistance, slip-resistance, etc.).
However, these disadvantages may be easily turned into advantages. Tidy Trax may also file applications disclosing various materials being arranged in the overshoe that enable Tidy Trax to cover a wider array of overshoes while simultaneously extending patent protection on the overshoes. This is an example of a patent strategy, which relies on continued development and improvement in products to create an overall patent portfolio. Incorporation of new materials may not be obvious as new materials may exhibit different characteristics. For example, chemical resistant materials may be strategically arranged in certain locations of the overshoe to decrease manufacturing costs while increasing durability.
A company must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of such a strategy. This type of patent strategy may be less risky in more niche markets with fewer competitors, such as the market of Tidy Trax. If successfully executed, Tidy Trax may maintain patent protection, improve their product, limit patent costs, and provide themselves with extra ways to build brand recognition and develop their product.