This week’s focus of Shark Tank was a lighted toilet. The invention, the brainchild of Matt Alexander and his brother in law, Michael Kannely, is a night light that lights up the toilet at night. The light is lighted by a motion-sensor that attaches to the side of the commode and illuminates a rainbow of colors. The idea is to light the toilet bowl enough so that the user can see it, but not too bright so that it wakes you completely up. The two caught the attention of Shark Tank producers based on their success in a Kickstarter campaign. There business is called IllumiBowl.
When I heard the pitch, the first thing I wondered was whether they have a patent. My own anecdotal evidence is that toilet ideas are the number one invention for patent filings. It must be that people think way to much while in the bathroom. I figured that this idea must already be out there and they couldn’t possibly get a patent. Even so, they claimed to have a patent application pending. I searched for it, but couldn’t find it. I suspect they filed the application less than 18 months ago, and that is why it isn’t publically available.
But, my search did pop up a lot of toilet lights. One that was right on point was U.S. Application No. 14/704847 published as US 20050316250. I wonder what Charlie Mangum thought of the Shark Tank presentation. I wonder if he’s going to put in a set of claims to go after IllumiBowl. I also wonder if Mr. Wonderful considered that there might be patents out there that are infringed. Kevin O’Leary did offer $100,000 for a 25% stake of the business.
I do know that just being on Shark Tank skyrocketed sales. It remains to be seen whether this level of sales can be maintained, and whether other patent holders will be forthcoming with their patents to try to get their own bite of the apple.