Intellectual Property Insights: The Fidget Spinner’s Untold Story

Around 2017, it was difficult not to notice the sudden popularity surrounding fidget spinners. This spinning toy, appealing in its simplicity, quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, engaging children and adults. However, this surge in popularity highlights a significant lesson in intellectual property (IP) rights and how vital the protection and preservation of those rights is.

Catherine Hettinger is the original inventor of the fidget spinner, and she hasn’t ever been paid for her work. She created it in the early nineties to help her cope with an autoimmune disorder. After years of selling it independently, she obtained a patent for her fidget spinner in 1997 from the US Patent & Trademark Office. At one point, Hasbro almost put it into production but decided against it. 

Sadly, Catherine Hettinger let her patent lapse because she couldn’t afford the $400 associated with renewing her patent. Without a patent, others could profit from her idea without compensating her. Her story highlights the risks inventors face without appropriate legal protection.

The Fundamentals of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property pertains to the non-physical creations of the mind, including inventions and artistic and literary works, as well as a brand or company name. IP rights provide creators exclusive legal entitlements to manage and benefit from their works. We took a deeper dive into the differences within the following categories we are about to discuss in a previously published blog. As a quick reminder, these IP rights are categorized in the following ways:

  • Patents: Grant inventors exclusive rights over their inventions for a set period, including the right to make, use, sell, or import the invention.
  • Copyrights: Protect creators of original authorial works, such as literature, music, and software, giving them exclusive reproduction and distribution rights.
  • Trademarks: These are distinctive signs identifying products and services, like brand logos.
  • Trade Secrets: Cover confidential business information that offers a competitive advantage.

Steps to Safeguard Intellectual Property

In light of Hettinger’s experience, defending your intellectual property proactively is essential. Key steps to do so include:

  • Identify Your IP: Determine which type of IP protection is applicable and if your creation meets the necessary standards.
  • Register Your IP: For patents, copyrights, and trademarks, registration provides legal ownership and protection and aids in enforcement.
  • Document Your Work: Keep detailed records of your creative process and ownership proofs. Having a working, frequently updated intellectual property portfolio is crucial for any business or creator.
  • Implement NDAs: Use non-disclosure agreements to maintain confidentiality when sharing ideas and trade secrets.
  • Consult Legal Professionals: Seek advice from skilled IP attorneys for comprehensive protection and guidance.

Safeguarding your intellectual property is a continuous process. It is essential for the longevity and success of your business, as your innovations form the core of your enterprise.

The case of the fidget spinner illustrates the risks associated with not protecting your intellectual property, leading to potential missed opportunities and financial losses. Ensuring the security of your innovations is crucial for the prosperity of your business.

Secure and Defend Your Intellectual Property With Dahl Law Group 

At Dahl Law Group, we are acutely aware of the significance of intellectual property protection. Our team is committed to assisting small and medium-sized business owners in California to secure their IP rights and achieve their objectives. We provide IP law services to businesses and individuals, including acquiring, maintaining, and enforcing trademarks. Protect your creative endeavors and business innovations. Contact Dahl Law Group to book a consultation, ensuring your intellectual property is comprehensively protected, and your business’s future is secure.

The following two tabs change content below.

Dahl Law Group

At Dahl Law Group, we’re not just a law firm. We’re your trusted advisor for your business and family from beginning to end. As your family and business grow, we will be there by your side. Our passion is providing you with peace of mind and protection through personalized estate and business planning.

Latest posts by Dahl Law Group (see all)