Sometimes a patent is just a piece of paper, as Mary Brock found out when she discovered a product remarkably similar to her patented Doggie poop freeze wand for sale:
One day in 2007, I was browsing through a catalog that included pet-related products.
Right before my eyes was an ad depicting a product that bared the two most descriptive words in the title of my recently patented invention. It was a derivative of one of the claims in my patent application, and is used for the purpose described in my patent.
My heart pounded and my world crumbled. I became angry, yet eager to know more about this product.
I ordered it from the catalog. The packaging had a “Patent Pending” notice.
I searched for more information about this product, which hit the market in 2004. That distressed me even more, because I knew my patent was granted in 2005. I also discovered it’s sold in several countries.
I didn’t find a patent, but I did find a trademark for the name given to this product. I thought, ‘This company stole my idea and had the nerve to trademark the descriptive name so that I could not use it.’