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DOUG HALL BLOGGED LIVE- Hi folks -- I've answered some of the questions posted to get things going... - Doug Hall

doughallphotoQUESTION: What's to keep others from stealing the inventions we see on the show? Or more precisely, how much exactly must a similar idea differ for a mega-company to get their own patent on it?

DOUG: Sadly, many of the inventors don’t have an invention that is protectable. Hopefully those that do have filed a utility patent.

QUESTION: Why doesn't the show screen inventors before they come before the judges so they don't waste your time with products that already exist?

DOUG: They do and many have been removed – however it’s also part of the “real world” that many people believe they’ve invented something when in truth it’s fundamentally the same. Besides it’s good entertainment.

COMMENT: Doug, as a viewer I am *so* tired of hearing the inventors talk about how much time and money they put into their invention, as if nobody else has ever put all their time and money into something. If this show is to go another season, less melodrama and more of the science (CSI-type angle). I hate to say it, but I cringe every time they go in for a closeup on Mary Lou as she tears up (oh, pleeeeease). I know you're not the producer, but could you pass this along?

DOUG: I so agree with you. As I said – It’s NOT American Sob Story. If you’re frustrated imagine what it’s like to spend 12 hours a day for 10 days – hearing story after story -- it’s enough to make me vomit! COMMENT: Production-wise, one of the best shots in the show was when you went back and encouraged the boy inventor who chose the wrong invention to present. DOUG: It was a very honest moment. I almost insisted that they not film it. I was afraid what it would look like. But in the end it came out very real. By the way – Kyle is really an awesome kid. I so hope to see him next year. I’ve sent him my books and some audio CD’s from my radio show.

COMMENT: I'm following the show and from my observation Doug Hall has The germ filtering toilets seat couple (FlushPure or Pureflush), The spherical baby seat man and the door clip woman. Sounds like such a broad range of ideas. Why these three???


DOUG: I selected these three because all three solve REAL problems. The problems vary from small problems that happen frequently (Sharon’s Door Clip) to the infrequent but BIG problem (Januse’s Baby Seat) to the in between – Joe & Jenny’s toilet seat. I have given all three my word that I will.

COMMENT: why do the judges keep asking what the market potential is for the receiver's training pole? The market is huge--any parent who wants their kid to get outside, try football, maybe find out they can succeed at it.

DOUG: The reason is because amazingly we have criteria that we’re supposed to be judging on – and one of the criteria is “Mass Market Consumer Product.” Needless to say each judge considers this differently. In my mind the priority is 1: Does it solve a real problem (make the world better) , 2) Uniqueness of the invention (it can’t be “just like), 3) Mass Market potential and 4) That the invention can be manufactured and sold at a reasonable price for that invention. NOTE: A great “sob story” is NOT on my list.

QUESTION: The Invention or Inventor. Honestly what is more important? I use thousands of great inventions on a daily basis and don't know nor care who invented them. They work and that's the bottom line.

DOUG: I agree totally. The measure of a great “inventor” can be seen in their invention. Those who have the courage to be bold and brave with their inventions are the great inventors in my opinion.

COMMENT : I look forward to Sunday night. I'm sure Doug will have some good insight as to the future of American Inventor. Marc Griffin
The "BulletBall Guy"

DOUG: Marc, my vote on BulletBall was one of the toughest of the competition for me. As the NEW YORKERS to my left (Mary Lou and Ed) were pounding on you – I so wanted to vote yes – just to annoy them and to defend you. In the end – I voted no because I thought to myself what it would be like to try and sell Bullet Ball to Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley --- I could see that set of “judges” saying no to the game – because of cost and size for the table (they like things that go into a box) – and because of the one dimensional nature of the game play (they like multi-levels). NOTE: I’m not saying they would be right – just that that’s what I anticipate I would hear based on my experience. I wish you the very best of luck with the game. I so hope you show that we were “idiots” for voting you down.

QUESTION: Shouldn't focus groups be of target consumers? Who were the consulting companies? Are they all in one production & marketing houses? Don't they have sales prices in mind, and isn't the focus group a good time to propose that?

DOUG: Yes target consumers would make more sense. The firms are primarily industrial design firms. I was able to get my contestants to use some other specialists – can’t say any more till the show airs.

QUESTION: I know it wasn't Doug's call, but why did "Time Out Tot" get cut while "Naia" is still going?

DOUG: You had to BRING THAT UP. I’m still ANGRY ABOUT IT. You’d have to ask the Red Head!

QUESTION: If the show comes back, any hope of format changes?

DOUG: I’m hopeful. ABC and Freemantle appear to be open to suggestions for improvement. I’ve got a list of things that I’m working on.

Comments
Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Seen Site

Yes I'd seen the site a couple times. As well as some of the others.

I've mostly stayed away until the decision on the top four. I didn't want to be influenced -- I wanted to vote what I believed was right -- not what was popular on the web.

I think that the web stuff is one of the coolest parts of the show. I also really appreciate folks sending me info on products that existed. I put up a call for them and got tons. Many I'd seen -- but some I hadn't. Thank you.

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Snowglobe Lady

Did you know that the Snowglobe Lady was featured last December on the Food Network? Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly which show it was....

Apr 23, 2006
by Alexis

Episode 105 - part two

when the judges were picking the final 12. ABC shows a clip about you saying that you were willing to stake your reputation on that invention. The rest of the judges agreed to include it in the final 12. Will we ever find out which invention you were willing to stake your reputation on?

Apr 23, 2006
by Think Outside T...
Think Outside The Circle's picture

Check out the Inventor Resources section of this site for links.

And to be pointed in the right direction if you're a newbie inventor.

Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Judges Picking People to Mentor

I know that I got who I wanted. In fact you got to see my fight with Peter over it. He was very much against all 3 of mine (such little vision the boy has -- and can you believe those suits - he has them custom made for him - doesn't he know that suits are so out of fashion these days)

I'm not sure if the other judges got who they wanted or not -- there was a two part process -- a debate on the final 12 (that actually took a lot longer than you saw -- if you looked close you saw my clothes and glasses change in the middle) -- it was debated at night and the next morning.

Apr 23, 2006
by Amarsir

Top 50 with little air time

I tried to make a list of things that got at least 3 votes but didn't make the finals, and its amazing how many went virtually (or completely) unaired. Any thoughts on:

Video Gift Box
Wheeled Tool Chest
Scrubblade
Kitty Glove Keyboard
Video clothing

(or any others)?

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Come Back!!

Ooohh, I so want you to come back. I can't believe you are talking to us live. I personally feel blessed that you are here taking the time to talk to us. Thanks and please come back.

Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Stake Reputation

I believe you will -- because Mr. Jones -- makes a comment about it. He couldn't let me get away with a challenge like that. Stay tuned.

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

questions

1. Is 50k enough to get an idea created as on the show? or did abc just have a connection for deals? Is 50k sufficiaent to bring an idea on paper to reality?

2. What city had the best ideas in your opinion? Do you think location inspires creativity?

3. Are the contracts to the inventors as ridiculous as I have heard? Something about them not really getting anything out of the inventions besides tehh million.

Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Favorite invention that didn't move forward

Take a Seat and Trailer Tower were both very close.

Given the incredible engineering -- I would have to give the "coin flip" to Trailer Tower.

Now can I go 2 out of 3.

Apr 23, 2006
by Maineiac (not verified)

Contestants' Patents

Doug,

I'm impressed that several of the inventors in the final 12 already have patents. Did the judges take that into consideration? Was a patent or pending application a criteria for selection? Did anyone advise the contestants of the IP rights?

Thanks!

Apr 23, 2006
by Alexis

Inbrella

I think the Inbrella is a great idea (assuming you could actually get it to work they way you want it to). do you think if she had more than 30 days to get her prototype working, the results may have been different.

Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Quick responses

1. Is 50k enough to get an idea created as on the show? or did abc just have a connection for deals? Is 50k sufficiaent to bring an idea on paper to reality?

yes it's more than enough for a prototype (especially given that the other judges have no idea about engineering)

2. What city had the best ideas in your opinion? Do you think location inspires creativity?

I'm going to get in trouble for this one. But I kept records of all people -- I rated all inventions. And in the final 50 rated all inventors and presentations (on a 10 point scale) -- The winner was San Francisco.

Yes I believe that there are locations that help encourage creative thinking. See Richard Florida's book RISE OF THE CREATIVE CLASS for details.

3. Are the contracts to the inventors as ridiculous as I have heard? Something about them not really getting anything out of the inventions besides tehh million.

The contracts are pretty standard Reality TV contracts. That said - -who said that we have to follow "the standard"

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Do you think they'll do a "best of" what wasn't seen episode?

It's sad, but I just can't get enough of this show. As someone in a comment above stated, there were snips and clips of things that we never really saw. And... well... I feel cheated. Maybe the guys at ABC are reading this blog too, and will make sure next season a few of the bugs are fixed.

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

takeaseat trailer tower

So then why, in your opinion, haven't we seen any
footage of these 2 inventions? I will check out both websites to learn more, only because you've
spoken about them tonight. Otherwise, I wouldn't have EVER thought to google them.

Your thoughts?

Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Inbrella ROCKS!

I love this idea.

I thought she did a great job in the time allowed.

It's a real invention that solves a real problem.

To those who say it's not TINY -- get over it -- it's made for cars -- not pocketbooks

Apr 23, 2006
by bygeorge1 (not verified)

shows

Hiya Doug, just wondered if you and the other judges were helping with the selection of the people who made it to LA, there were a lot of inventions that didn't get there including mine, oh well ,but a lot of the ones that didn't make it are probably good inventions, was it ABC that controls what is put on the show?, I just think of the bad yeses that I saw from you and the other judges that make me believe that this show is just TV and nothing else, You said yes to PAPER,

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Whose your favorite of the

Whose your favorite of the other jusdges, the one who you think most gets it?

Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Why have you seen what you've seen

My guess is -- bad judgement on the part of the producers. Simon admitted to me that he didn't know anything about inventions. He does music and he does TV.

Clearly he's the PT Barnum of TV -- but the Paula of Inventions

Apr 23, 2006
by Amused and Bemused

Take a Look at Our Invention Gallery

For the poster who had to google the two great inventions, all you needed to do was look in our Invention Gallery. They are featured there, and linked to their websites, along with other really GREAT inventions.

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

As the auditions you witnessed were really ROUND 2, does it...

piss you off that so many crappy ideas were moved forward for purely entertainment value and the pure intention of the producers knowing that the invention would get ripped apart?

It pisses me off. As an auditioner in NYC I saw a few of the people who made the cut to the second round LA auditions. You know, the fake round, where they make the viewing audience THINK it's the first round. But it's not. And... everyone, even the PAs knew certain inventions were HORRIBLE. Yet, guess what, they were moved through. Like the guy with the urinal body bag. The poor guy was sent to LA only to be the very first person on the show - and to be ridiculed.

Granted, the idea was stupid as all hell. But, the producers flew him out. And that was just plain mean.
Then again, I read the contract, and it said quite plainly that they could cut,edit and make up stuff however they felt fit, that could cause irreprable harm to one's life.

Apr 23, 2006
by Amarsir

Forgive me being a shill

Hey Doug, is you next book still on schedule for September?

Apr 23, 2006
by Joe (not verified)

From someone in the know..Doug, you're the man

The truth will set you free. Thank You for the freedom to feel like an AMERICAN INVENTOR.

Apr 23, 2006
by Ironponyfabrication

Hi Doug I am glad you are doing this

Doug I write a regular feature here on american inventor spot. It's called prototyping 101. I hope you get a chance to read it. I know that the show has to be entertaining, if it wasn't then nobody would tune in. And every inventor realizes that we need all the exposure we can get. But I don't think that all the crying and moaning that goes on on the show, is giving a very good impression of inventors to the american public. And the big prize is sure to draw out the fringe inventors that might make for good TV. But at what cost to the rest of us. Is the show going to try and tone down some of that. Or is it going to get worse. thanks William

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Doug my question to you why

Doug my question to you why is there so much attention on your web site about the "Gobagger" This was never addressed on the show. Are you affiliated with this product? Besides that when did this other product get into the competition the real question lies with Ed's decision.The easiest way to put it.The Sackmaster has human value,The inbrella has personal value,The Catch pole has some athletic value.You put them in order.

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

qs

- I am an inventor, and have a great idea, but do not know how to bring it to market. Should I audition for the show, or are there better ways to brig it to market.

- You mentioned in SF, the show will not impress REAL inventors. Why is this? There is also the History channels invention series, but they seem to focus more on engineering and scientific inventions that everyday tv people would not understand.

- What Inventions are you allowed to say you had a part in, that ALL housholds own and love..you can name the 15+ if you wish.

Apr 23, 2006
by Doug Hall

Audition Foolishness

Hey -- it's REALITY TV -- it's Simon Cowell -- what did you expect. Real theater?

Yes it annoyed me immensly to sit for 12 hours a day to sit and watch obvious foolishness.

That said -- I'm very proud of my 3 inventors. They're real people who are solving real problems. Only one cried -- Januse and he is in my opinion the ONLY contestant who had a right to cry.

Apr 23, 2006
by Alexis

Judges

If there is a next season, and ABC decided to add another judge, what's type of person do you think they should look for? another inventor?

Apr 23, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Amen brother!

Amen brother!