I am a woman who owns a small jump rope business in Louisville, Colorado. I have spent over thirty-five years in the sport of jump rope, winning 5-world championships during my career. Over the years I have inspired thousands of kids, have visited over 600 CrossFit Gyms across the world, and have conducted almost 900 jump rope seminars for coaches and athletes. I am most proud of my passion for providing innovative jump rope content and products to the world.
In 2007, I designed a speed jump rope and filed for a patent in 2008. The USPTO awarded me my two patents for my jump rope: The first one in 2010, and the second in 2012. At the time, I was in my late twenties, and this was a huge moment for me, both financially and emotionally. After being awarded my patents, I proudly started my US-made and manufactured jump rope business and launched my online store − JumpNrope.
Starting in 2011 and continuing until this day, hundreds of companies infringed on my jump rope technology. In a way, I was honored to find that my jump rope had made that much of an impact on the world. Even the largest manufacturer in CrossFit, Rogue Fitness, infringed on my product in 2012. Rogue Fitness has since designed over a dozen jump ropes using my technology and selling millions of jump ropes a year.
In 2010 and 2012, when I received my two patents, the USPTO told me that my idea was “protected”, and I had the right to defend it. In 2018 I took what the USPTO granted me the right to do, and I served Rogue Fitness for infringement on my jump rope technology.
Instead, I spent four of the most difficult years of my life going through an unjust Inter Partes Review (IPR) with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). I spent over half-a-million dollars defending the validity of my patent.
In October 2021, both of my patents were wrongly found invalid, leaving me with feelings of depression, humiliation, anger, and confusion. What happened to me?
Last week, October 19th, 2022, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) posted this article: Latest USPTO report finds a 32% increase in the number of U.S. counties where women patented between 1990 and 2019 | USPTO. The article expresses the USPTO’s ambition to increase the number of women inventors.
“Our new study shows important trends over the past thirty years in women patenting,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “We plan to use this study and other data as we focus on bringing more women into the innovation and patenting ecosystem. We must increase the number of women inventors on patents from the 12-13% it is at today to full representation. This is critical for job growth and economic prosperity.”
The USPTO’s article is misleading the people, especially women, to believe in the patent system; To believe a patent is going to protect our life’s work. In 2008, that is what I believed, but I was wrong.
The USPTO granted me my two patents after four years of examination, yet in just three months, the USPTO also took them away when I attempted to defend my patents like I thought I could.
I did not have the luxury of knowing about the PTAB when I filed for my patents, as I received them pre-AIA (America Invents Act). But, if I made my jump rope today, knowing what I know now, I never would have put in the time, money, or effort to get a patent. The USPTO is selling a false statement when they say “protect.”
To the women innovators, entrepreneurs, and small business owners; To the women that the USPTO is focused to bring into the innovation and patenting ecosystem: Do you know your life’s work is not protected when you fight infringers? Are you informed of the unintended consequences of the PTAB?
No one should have to experience what I experienced. I am finding out that there are thousands of others like me with similar stories. We are sad, angry, confused. How is this good for our country?
The USPTO is not benefitting small inventors, let alone women inventors. Without a change to our patent system, the number of women inventing will not increase as the USPTO hopes.
This needs to change.