This past week, xCraft touted some pretty amazing drone designs. The company execs, Charles Manning and JD Claridge, were able to secure millions from all of the Sharks–very unusual. They have two products. One is for a drone that can take off like a helicopter and move forward like an aircraft. The other is for a drone shell that uses a smart phone for its intelligence. I’m not sure I’d want my iPhone flying a few hundred feet in the air, but I suspect others would. The Sharks are surely banking on it.
What I found interesting was when Kevin O’Leary asked about IP protection, they hedged a bit and said they have filed patents. This was sort of a red flag for me. How can a company that is this far along with their technology not have any granted patents? I did a quick search and not only did I not find any granted patents, but I couldn’t find any that were pending. Which leads me to wonder if they dumped in a half-baked provisional right before the show just to say they have something pending. Since patent applications are not published for 18 months, it’s hard to determine what they’ve filed on. I’m sure the Sharks will get access to the applications and their lawyers will pour over them (contrary to popular belief, the deal the Sharks offer isn’t actually consummated until they do their diligence).
I’ll keep a watch to see if anything pops out of the patent office. For their sake, I hope they did file on something. Everyone else is. Check out this study on how many patent applications are being filed in the drone space. http://www.ificlaims.com/index.php?page=news&type=view&id=larry-cady-s-blog%2Fhovering-over-the-drone. I did do a quick patent search to see if I could find anything showing a cell phone plopped into a drone frame but couldn’t find anything. Rather, most use mobile phones to control the drone–not as its guts. So, maybe there is some hope for xCraft. If I find anything, I’ll certainly post it.