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July 28, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Click and Carry Inventor Kim Meckwood Talks the Importance of a Patent & How to Save on Prototyping

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Happy Friday.

Happy Friday. Thanks so much for having me. How fun to be here.

Oh, it's it's gonna we're gonna have a blast. I mean, your your idea is fascinating. Your story is remarkable and inspiring. So we only have a half hour. So rather than delay things further and I see plenty of participants are already kind of running in here because the bullpen is open so to speak. So Kimberly, would tell us about yourself in well, let me see. I wonder I wonder sometimes Should we start with the inventors bio or should we start with the product I I'm actually changing my mind on the fly here. And Jenny, if you can play the video, let's watch this short 52nd video, and then we'll go back to Kim

carry is a simple handled device that allows shoppers to manage and carry multiple bags at once comfortably. Clicking carry may be carried in the hands or worn over the shoulders. When worn over the shoulder for easier carrying the device uses the weight of the bags to counterbalance. It may also be used to carry sporting equipment. As a ski boot tow. It gives the user an extra hand for just about anything. Click and carry works with paint cans and construction pails, and the handle can hold up to 50 pounds of product. It's a perfect gadget for dry cleaning. And you may put multiple dog leashes on either end of the product to easily walk both dogs at once. It's ideal for carrying all those party favors into the next bridal shower. This is a perfect product for moms, urban dwellers and for seniors with dexterity issues.

Perfect, perfect. So gosh, that takes away my intro of the product because it you've just done a phenomenal job with that video. And I know that's the video that QVC uses as well.

That's be able to show everyone all the fun uses for clicking carry.

Okay, so tell us about yourself and perhaps before clicking carry, like what was your day job? What were you doing? And what inspired this idea.

So it's so funny would ask that. So I've been working in neurology for gosh, almost 20 years, and both pharmaceuticals and medical device sales. And I, I was actually at one point working and selling a product that was just a slight modification to an old drug that was used for me to to be introduced to the movement disorder specialists who are neurologists who specialize in Parkinson's disease. And this drug was an old gold standard. So there wasn't a lot to talk to the doctors about. And at the time, I had just gone through a breakup with my boyfriend. And he used to carry an all the groceries for me. And when we broke up, I had to carry my own groceries. So I knew there had to be a better way. And the idea came to me. It actually came to me in a dream, at least the shape of it. It was this shape, but without the tarp. And I'll explain that in a little bit. But the idea came to me and I would be speaking to one doctor in particular about it. She's a brilliant neurologist at USC. And finally she said to me, can we you shut up and stop talking about this idea and do something about it. So I listened to her and I did I actually hired her neighbor. Her neighbor was a student at the Pasadena design school. And she had her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. And then she was going to school for her master's in product design. So I hired her her neighbor, Audrey to help me with 3d CAD printings. And we went through about nine different iterations of that design. So I made nine CAD prints. And at the ninth one was the winner, but I knew it had to work in real life. So I created a mold. It was about $5,000. But it was something that I needed to do. And it didn't work perfectly. So I had to make some modifications on that mold. But then once I had the winner, that was the time to go and patent the idea. So that was that was the birth of clicking carry.

Yeah. Wow. So that. I mean, it is a patent attorney having, you know, done this for 25 years. It's no surprise to me that the original prototype had to be changed, right?

Absolutely. So it's in it and I thank you for reminding me. So the beginning of the shape was kind of like a boomerang. And it didn't have a tub and it worked. But the problem is when you set the bags down, they would pop out. So the next iteration included a two piece with a magnet, but I knew if it were to piece says that someone could possibly get hurt. And we know that people would lose one of the two sides, obviously, the bottom side being the more important side, but I knew how to be one solid unit. And the inspiration actually came from a hair clip a burette, I used to tie my hair up and in a bun. And this was a clip that you would press down and it would click into place. So I knew that I would have to do a twisting mechanism. And then there's if you look closely at the clicking query, there's a male female part that locks it into place, hence the click and, and clicking Carrie was born.

Okay. And I know, Jenny, if you want to put up a link to the inventors mastermind or Facebook group, we can post close up pictures of the click and carry there so so people will be able to see those those features that you're talking about. They probably won't be up on the Facebook group until the end of the day. But but you know, the other alternative is to ask you to hold it up right close to the camera, and I don't think that's going to do it justice. So well, you can try it. Let's, let's see. Oh, wow. Oh, it is okay.

And this is my favorite view, because you can see there's actually two divots here. So you can actually put two or three bags here and other bag here. And it will actually raise this the the third or fourth bag a little bit higher. So it's easy to put on your shoulder and to be completely hands free.

Oh, that's what allows that because in the video, I saw the person at the dry cleaners and that was like it's it's great. Like he had some of the clothes in front, some and back. And that's the configuration, it's an

absolutely the key is to evenly distribute the weight. So let's say for example, in that case, you have 10 pieces of dry cleaning, make sure you put five on each side, so the weight is even. And then you don't even have to mess with it, it will just sit there on your shoulder. And that I realized that the video that I made for QVC might be a little bit old because it actually carries 80 pounds. I can't personally carry 80 pounds, but you can you can carry 80 pounds on the clicking carry and it actually doesn't even stress fracture until you get to 153 pounds. So it's very sturdy. I personally can't carry that much though.

Yeah, well so 80 pounds I mean it can even see possible uses at the gym, but I don't why? It seems like every time you get your your video done, there's a new use that that comes to mind. Tell us about the how the smartphones and iPhone holder.

Sure. So this this I found out by accident I find out my new use is all by accident. I'm on my Facebook or Instagram, I invite people to send me their new ideas or show me them carrying a ton of groceries. And one of them one of one of the friends showed me this you twist it open. And like I said, since there's a special bracket that allows you to carry more bags, you could actually put your iPhone or iPad in the clicking carry. Imagine that this is on a table of course, right? It will just sit there for you. It's a nice little prop. So well. It's not in use carrying groceries, it could be a noose helping you to prop your iPad or your iPhone.

Yeah, no, that's, that's amazing. What were some of the obstacles. And obviously, prototyping posed a few obstacles at the beginning. Tell us about any other obstacles that were either expected or unexpected that kind of you had to overcome?

Sure. So you're right about it was an obstacle to get prototyping. And that's why I went with someone who was in school who had access to a 3d CAD printer because my nine iterations that cost about $1,800 at the local college would have probably cost me 20 or $30,000. Out in the real world. So money obviously, as an issue. The I hired a patent attorney because I knew that I wouldn't be able to write the patent correctly. So that was the best move of my life. But interestingly, the time I did it, it was when we were going through a recession in the country. So the USPTO actually drew back on their number of employees. So my first patent actually took three years. The second patent was a little more quick. It was about a year and a half later, but that was an obstacle. And then finally, I think the biggest obstacle evolve and it continues to be an obstacle but things are getting a little bit better thanks to Shark Tank, is getting the word out about this product because people don't realize they need it until they actually use it or have it explained to them. So for example, if you saw this in the story, you might think oh, that's just a little boomerang or what what the heck is that for and it needs a demonstration. So getting out and demonstrating Getting the public awareness has been a big obstacle. But that's the most important piece of this puzzle to me.

Yeah, it's funny, that reminds me, you know, try to find, oh, yeah, you're like, like we posted. Some, like 3am actually had to give these out for free at the beginning, because nobody really understood what you would use it for, and how valuable they are until you had a stack on your desk, and you find yourself sticking them everywhere. I can imagine a lot of similarities with your clicking carry as well, like Rick is who would, once it's there on your desk, that's when you're like, hey, well, this thing will hold the phone as well. And then all those times where you need to go pick something up, it triggers it, the fact of just having it there. It's funny,

you would say that I I told them on Shark Tank, I told the sharks, I said, you know, this is going to be the next umbrella. And the reason being is because people will buy one, they'll forget it on a one of their grocery shopping trips, and they'll have to struggle with their groceries. And to prevent that in the future, they'll have one in the glove compartment, one in their purse, one at home in the drawer, because they don't want to ever be caught without it. And so I agree with you. And by the way, hosts are magical. I can't live without post it notes.

Well, from a you know, from a lawyer standpoint, the you know, because everyone always says, Well, what everything you can do with the postage you can do with a piece of paper and tape. But that's the whole thing about improving lives through innovation, is sometimes the differences are not, they don't have to be earth shattering. Like it's convenience. And it's sometimes a small difference in convenience of not having to go and find a piece of cake. And you know, and a piece of paper and then having it size perfectly. It's just the convenience of having it there. But a lot of times and I want to get back to your mentioning two patents, because I'm often have inventors that find that their product evolves over time. Is that what triggered the second patent?

Yes. Great question. Yes. So originally, on the side here, I hope you can see it, it was just a single line. So what would happen is, even though there's a male female part, just a slight nodule that keeps it to keep that locked into place, I needed an extra mechanism to really stop that flow, otherwise, it would just flow freely. So I redesigned it. And this is so bizarre, but it's another guy's story, I was on a date with an orthopedic surgeon. And it was such a boring day, he was talking about favorable fractures. And a favorable fracture is when you break a bone at kind of like a diagonal so that when it's trying to heal, there'll be resistance on both sides. So that gave me the idea of this tongue and groove almost like a tooth. So it's easy and it clicks into place. And it provides for more stability than then with just the single line. So yes, it was an improvement on the first it was just well,

that second patent is that's what that covered. Is that improvement.

Yes. And I added the dividers too. So that one can easily put multiple bags on each side and there it would raise the bads to about an inch, so easy to put on the shoulder if you had, let's say, five or six bags,

right? Yeah, there's, you know, and that's why, you know, larger companies like you know, of course, Apple, Money's no object for them. But the iPhone has 49 patents, covering 49, probably more by now, because there's there's always new innovations that are made. And there's also from a patent attorney standpoint, you can get really broad protection by filing a portfolio and it helps with the valuation as well. Did that play? did was that point addressed at all was the patenting asked about when you were on Shark Tank?

It was and a little secret is that when you are on Shark Tank, and you're actually right there on stage, it's much longer than what appears on TV. So it was covered. They asked about the patents and they asked about trademarking, etc. And they love that when you have IP protection because they know that it can be defended moving forward. It's a real big sell for the sharks.

Yeah. So is that so you have do you have the name trademarked as well?

I do. Yes. Yep, here and internationally.

Okay, well, is that is there an actual click when it When it folds when it goes in,

yeah, and then

yep, I can hear it. There. Now we see where the name comes from. One of the things you mentioned and I, you said the, in your original that didn't have a tarp on it, the bags would come out when you placed it down. And I'm thinking well, but don't you want them out. But then I realized that maybe you make a pitstop something. So say you leave your car, and you want to check your mailbox before walking in. So that's probably where necessity is the mother of invention, you think the product is done, you have your prototype, and then you start using it. And then you realize, okay, so I put it down to check my mailbox. And then when you lift it up, the bags are out, you have to adjust them. So it's like something like that must have happened to trigger that change.

It did yours very intuitive. It was actually instead of the mailbox, it was my friend Jor because I live in a condo. So I try to make all my grocery trips in one quick trip. So I will make sure both of my hands are taken. So I would set the bags down to unlock my door. And instead of having to regather five or six loose bags, because all the bags were together on the handle, I just pick up the handle and boom, I'm on my way. So that's exactly right that it is the mother of invention. And that's why out of the top to it.

So so what what advice would you have for inventors having like knowing what you know now about the journey and some of the roadblocks. And I practice long enough to know the roadblocks could be sometimes their financial roadblocks just raising the funding? Did you was that an obstacle in your journey as well, because sometimes the people that go on Shark Tank, that's their primary goal. Of course, exposure is great, but also trying to get a shark to invest. So you have the funds to experiment and r&d and produce prototypes. So talk to us about that. Sure. Yeah.

And you're absolutely right. Yep. Money. Money is definitely an issue, especially as a solo entrepreneur like me, I bootstrapped it. But I did, I did raise some funds. And that was very helpful. But it, it's so interesting, because there there there are so many different obstacles. But the advice that I would give is that take advantage of your local colleges. There's talent all around you, for example, I live across from UCLA, I approach some of the MBA students because they could help with a marketing strategy, or business design, where I answer questions that you may not have the answer to, there's so many different people around willing to help or even working with the SBA worked with the local SBA, I worked with score with mentors who are retired and they just love to give back. It's so interesting, what I found is that people really want to help other people. And, and all you have to do is just ask for their help. And there's so much help out there and inexpensive help, because like I said, I bootstrapped this. So I didn't have a lot of money, and I had to work a full time job up until recently to promote this. So to take advantage of their expertise at a discount was just fantastic, and really helped me significantly. So there's always ways around it. And like I said, with the even just the prototyping and making the different iterations, I wouldn't have been able to afford to have someone print on a CAD printer for me, because I would have had to pay for the engineer. And for the printing, it would have cost me 1000s of dollars for just one iteration. But by working with the Pasadena design school, I did it for $2,000. And by the way, this is a promotion to you because your job is so important. I know that there's ways that one can write their own patent, but I knew that I didn't have the know how I needed a patent attorney who was also an engineer who understood and who could guide me, and that was very expensive. And I really suffered through the process of you know, getting it patented, but it was the best move of my life because I am so secure in my path. And in fact, it's funny because the United States Patent and Trademark Office did a story about me years ago, I met them at a home and housewares show in Chicago. It's a very big trade show. And they're actually going to feature me as a guest speaker upcoming in March. And just to have the credibility that I actually spoke for the United States Patent and Trademark Office when I was in their periodical called inventors i That gives me extra credibility and it makes it more difficult for someone to try to infringe on my patent. So I just think I just have to tell you the confidence of having dealt with a patent attorney really allows me to sleep well at night. So I'm thankful for people like, you

know, thanks. And there's, you know what they say about and you know, like being an engineer and an attorney. It's, you end up learning more and more as as patent attorney, they say an expert is someone who learns more and more about less than less. And at some point, you find that the more you specialize, you end up learning an incredible amount about its specialty, that's this tiny, and it's amazing to have when you have that, that's, that's why I'm so fueled by inventors, because those are the people that actually fit this tiny little niche that can actually use the knowledge that it's taken, you know, an entire career to accumulate. So thank you for that. And I have to give you credit for realizing the value of having the patent done correctly, and not just the first one, but then also, when your product changed, and trying to get additional protection for for the other part. So that makes that makes a lot of sense. And it's not an easy decision to make, because there's a lot you can spend your money on, at the early stages of bringing a product to market, right? You've got marketing costs, you have prototype costs, you've got, you know, the costs of getting the product done. And when I say prototype costs, multiple iterations of the prototype, because it's rare that you get it right, as you found on the first try.

Right? It's It's so true, but it was such a worthy investment. In fact, I'm going to be calling my attorney very soon, because I have in addition to the clicking carry, so Dr. Jason berhadiah, is going to be getting a call very soon.

Oh, okay. No, terrific, because that's it. Now, sometimes, you know, the fact that your patents are granted, the improvement has to be a non obvious improvement over those. So it's exciting. I'm not going to ask you live on to talk about it. Because this is something more for our audience that in 2013, the US patent system underwent the single biggest change in this century, we went from a first to invent system to a system that's first to file. And so first to invent was really favorable to individual inventors like Chem because if they don't pursue the patent right away, as long as they can document the conception of their idea, and their prototyping and the efforts that they've made to kind of finally develop it. That was enough to beat somebody else. If someone else were to patent it first, under first to invent, which was prior to 2013. That was enough. Today, unfortunately, the lies is first to file. So all of the evidence that you might have came of this new idea whether it's video, whether it's pictures, witnesses, even receipts for raw materials for your prototype, none of that is going to help you if somebody else files the patent first. So you're right about that phone call for this improvement, right? As soon as we're off the air, I would suggest getting that call in and making sure that patent gets in first because first of all, is it's great for large corporations and larger businesses, they it's easy for them to get the funding and a lot of large corporations have patent attorneys just on salary full time working for them. So it's easy for them to be get the first to file. It was a huge blow for individual inventors because now with all these competing expenses at the early stages of developing the idea, you don't have breathing room, you kind of have to decide between Do you patent it or do you prototype it. And not just because I'm a patent attorney and a bias but I would say patent it first. Because you need to be first to file you need to get that patent in and have it protected.

Thank you for that advice. I appreciate that. And if anyone's interested, if you go to clicking You could sign up and I'm set I send out a newsletter once a month and I'll be sharing the new invention soon. It's actually something that straps onto the clicking carry. It's a lot of fun so it's coming soon.

It's like an accessory to the click and carry. Okay, so I know Jenny's are assisting here if you can put the website for quick and carry in our chat box. And we'll also post it in the inventors mastermind on Facebook. So Jenny, you can put the Facebook Mastermind URL there as well. I'm excited to see this accessory but not until you have it, patent pending. And you know, you've kind of lived through the long process of waiting to get from patent pending to having the patent granted. Tell us a little bit how that has been not just emotionally, but also from investor's standpoint and others. There's a lot of people waiting for that patent that grant, and that are relying on it in addition to you, oh, it's so

tough, I have to tell you, it's difficult because I'm a talker and to not be able to talk about my baby. Oh, almost impossible. I would say that was the hardest part. But I knew that I couldn't do anything until I had that paper. I and I, like I said, I can't, I can't thank you for what you do enough, because I knew I didn't have the expertise necessary to get this done the right way. And I'm just so grateful. Because like I said, I could sleep at night. But yeah, it was a difficult process. It takes a long time. So I didn't even look for investors until that period was over. So that was three years, I was basically on hold for three years. But sometimes that's what it takes.

Right? Right. And you know, and the pending is critical. But some inventors to be really safe, they want to wait until the patent is actually issued. But that becomes a longer wait. Now your second patent went a lot sooner. There's so many factors. So I don't know necessarily whether it was the recession. And as you said, as the patent office slow down. Sometimes it's it's surprising, even within the same type of the same field of invention. We'll have one patent thickets granted in a year, and something similar that it takes two or three years. So I wish I had an explanation for that is why that disparity is there. But just so for our viewers a year is the fastest I have seen. So I mean, just just to be prepared for that, it's not going to be something that you file, and immediately gets granted. And there's also in most patents, there's this period of prosecution, which is back and forth. arguments with the patent office, trying to convince them Did you have any of that in your case,

I did. So interestingly, who knew, but there were 16 bag holders when I filed my patent. And since 1952. And the reason I was finally and ultimately awarded two utility patents is because mine is the only one that allows for the user to be truly hands free. So that was that was the big winning concept. And it was just such a slight modification, but because it's so hands free, that's why I was awarded those those patents. And thank goodness I was. And it's interesting, because there have been about three or four new competitors since I was issued that patent and one claims to be hands free, but they're actually not because it's basically the equivalent of a hobo bag, which are those hobo sticks where

Oh, yeah. Yeah. It's it's like, like a big, like laundry or something tied on to the end, right. That's what comes to mind.

Exactly. So their product is called grocery grips. And it's basically just a strap, and they say it's hands free, but it's not hands free, because all the weight is carried in the back. And it has to be anchored with your arm in the front. So that doesn't make a hands free. And I don't think that they were awarded a pen so I didn't research that much. I just I just despise that they use the word hands free because it's not they shouldn't be allowed.

The thing is that I mean, even if they were granted a patent, like that's not you and this is something a lot of inventors are are surprised by but the patent itself is it does not prevent somebody else from claiming the same features like it's, it's that product. And the examiner is going to look at the claims and a court is going to look at the claims and see if they're actually infringed. So I think you'll be in good shape on that one. We are very close to out of time. So is there any any parting West nuggets of wisdom that you have for the inventors that are that are watching and you truly are an inspiration to so many that have you know even maybe seen your your episode on Shark Tank or or just heard about you you're a classic inventor that has started, you know, with, like bootstrapping The idea for the early stages and then getting you to the point where now you're no longer you're no longer working for somebody else right you're you're able to dedicate 100% of your time To this, so that's got to be amazing.

It is amazing. And what I would the advice I would offer is, don't listen to the naysayers because I can't tell you how many people along the way said, Oh, nobody needs that. I don't, I don't like that idea. You're wasting your money, you're wasting your time. Don't listen to them if you believe in it. And if you see it as something useful, that's going to better the life of someone else you need to go for it don't give up no is just know for now is the main point of of my message. Don't listen to them. And another important thing is if anybody out there has any questions or or need some advice, I'm happy to give it because I've received so much help along the way. I think it's important to give back and and I especially have a special place in my heart for inventors, because I think of new ideas all the time. And if someone has a question or concern, and I can help them I'd be glad to. So I just want to let everybody know that.

Thank you, Kim. What a wonderful, last nugget you had on on ignoring the naysayers. So if that reminds me, and I'll just end on this because I know we promise everyone a half hour because everyone's zoomed out these days. It's one of my favorite quotes from Walt Disney. If you can dream it, you can do it. And believe it or not, he was Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper reporter for not having enough imagination. So don't let somebody else judge your product or your idea. If the ideas come to you. It's come to you for a reason. So don't give up on it. So with that, Ken, thank you so much. And of course, we'll have your information in the inventors mastermind as well. Thank you, everybody, and happy Friday. Have a wonderful weekend.

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