Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions
Gadgets and New Inventions
The "Trim-Trak" - A new invention story - Pat. No. 4,940,347 Page 1
Gadgets and Inventions - the Trim-Trak.
I received a telephone call one day from a gentleman who we shall call "Mr. Andrews". A friend of his had given him my name, telling him I would give him advice about what to do with his new invention.
Mr. Andrews had invented a gadget that separated the perforated edges of tractor feed printer paper. (at the time, almost all printer paper was tractor fed). We met and he demonstrated his prototype to me. He showed me the results of his patent search, and some letters from apparently interested parties in Japan.
His trimmer idea was quite simple. He mounted a razor blade in the tractors of the tractor feed mechanism of an Epson printer.
I made a Big mistake!
I made a Big mistake!
I was impressed with his demonstration and offered to manufacture and market his margin trimmer gadget for him. Mr. Andrews was in a big hurry, but agreed to my plan if I implemented it right away. Foolishly I had some paperwork drawn up that I would provide him with a down payment of, as I recall, about $15,000.00, a second payment of $15,000 in 90 days, and a royalty of 5% of our gross sales.
After signing the papers I took possession of his prototype, instituted my own patent search, and contacted several printer companies about the idea of a margin trimmer built into the tractor units.
After the legal documents had been signed, and I had given him the $15,000 down payment, he turned his invention prototype over to me.
The first piece of bad news came when I began experimenting with Mr. Andrews printer with the built in margin trimmer. After a relatively short period of time I discovered that the prototype had a couple of problems. After a few hundred pages had been trimmed a significant amount of paper dust began to build up in the tractor. The paper dust began getting into the works of the printer and gumming things up. In addition the razor blades didn't accurately track the perforations in the paper margins, but wandered back and forth across the perforations, leaving an unattractive margin on the edges of the trimmed sheets.
The second piece of less than welcome news was from the printer manufactures who said they might be interested as long as there were no sharp blades involved that could injure someone. My brother cut his thumb badly enough to need 4 stitches while using it.
The third piece of bad news came from my patent attorney. An identical device had been patented in Austria in the 1950's. It wasn't patentable! Apparently the patent search Mr. Andrews had obtained was through an inventors club at a big discount. The patent search was only performed on U.S. patents and did not search foreign patents.
Re-inventing the margin trimmer gadget or new invention
Since I had signed the legal documents, and still owed Mr. Andrews a second cash payment, I tried to figure out some way to get the trimmer to work and make it patentable. I began to experiment with tractors from some old printers I had laying around, and after a few days I had a tractor unit that worked quite well, my new gadget left no paper dust, had no sharp blades that could cause injuries, and was patentable.
My prototype trimmer new invention used a couple of plastic rollers and a grove cut into part of the tractor to force the paper sheet to exit the tractor at a slightly different angle than the margins, causing the paper to tear at the perforations.
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