Still, one of our favorite invention stories. Way back when,
we were approached by an inflatable toy manufacturer who was looking for something new and unique.
We got to thinking about how when we were kids, we would take a big box from a new clothes dryer or washing machine and rip all of the fold-up panels off of it. We could then get inside of it and crawl along like it was a big "tractor tread". It was really fun! We'd never seen any toy or inflatable that had that same play pattern so we thought it was a good idea.
So I (Scott) took a quick picture of my 4 year old daughter crawling along the ground. A few hours later and I had Photoshopped an illustration of what the Tractor Treader would look like with her crawling along inside. We emailed the pic to the manufacturer and he loved it. He immediately forwarded it to his factory in China and three weeks later this awesome sample arrived, ready to show the buyers.
It became an instant hit and we later received a lot of nice royalty checks for what amounted to less than one days work! We wish inventing was always this easy!
Everything happened so fast we never pursued any sort of intellectual property protection. Within a year there were several rip-off copies of it for backyard and swimming pool toys. A simple, $300 design patent would have given us all the protection we needed...lesson learned!