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.

Apr 23, 2006
by Marc "BulletBall" Griffin (not verified)

Bulletball and Doug

Thank you Doug for your comments. We are continuing to work hard towards making BulletBall and BulletBall Extreme a success. I maybe should have stressed the humanitarian qualities of the game such as being wheelchair friendly and age/gender neutral. I'm not sure how to "box up" the game though....:)


Apr 24, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Doug: Stick to your way of

Doug: Stick to your way of doing business, because in the
end your right,

Apr 24, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Just finished reading the entire dialogue.

Wish I had been there live, and I hope I have a chance the next time around, if there's one.

I plan on auditioning if there's a new season. But my question to Doug would be, do you think I should have some human drama story prepared - aside from having a kick ass invention? It seems that helps.

And way to go AIS, this site rocks. And I agree with the comment way above, it blows away the competition.

Apr 24, 2006
by Matt Piner (not verified)


Doug did his homework.
He researched and found the GoBagger and found out about it's history and development, patent searches, etc. He bought the product to see for himself, then had an opinon that it was a better product. The product has been patented and "out there" for 6 1/2 years and has sold thousands all over the country and the world. It has not enjoyed any widespread publicity until this show (well, only peripherally).
Doug was not allowed to express this opinion in the edited versions of the show, but did so on his own website,, "Soapbox" on Friday, 4/21/06.

Apr 24, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Doug: You seem the only

Doug: You seem the only judge that has any idea whats
happening, keep up the good work, I'm sure it will
pay off for the three you are mentoring

Apr 28, 2006
by Darlene Fields (not verified)

tv show american inventor

Dear Doug, I love the show American inventor, I tape it so my husband can watch it on his day off, We never knew this was out there, I love to see my husband on the next show, hopefully there will be a next one and do you think they will be in cincinnati to look for more American inventors, He is getting his patent done and file today by his lawyer it was alot of work just getting the patent done and the time in getting the search done. you know all that. but if there is going to be another show how do you go about it or finding out about the try outs. thank you have a great day.

Apr 28, 2006
by kitty (not verified)

prior art/search

Hi Doug,
You mentioned that readers have been sending you information about products which have already been invented.
Has anybody - ABC, judges, etc. done
any kind of search to determine if any of the inventions
hasn't been patented or sold by somebody else?

Discussion boards about the show are full
of links to products that appear similar. I haven't checked them to see if they are really different, but I am sure you heard about several.

Has anybody did any kind of search for "prior art" before you selected the final 12, even just google?

I work for a research lab and have a couple of patents as well as a number of applications and the very first thing we do when we get an idea is some basic search - google, USPTO, delphion. Company lawyers do the more serious search since to avoid wasting money, but we still do the preliminary one so that not to waste time. It seems that ABC would be embarassed if somebody wins the show only to find out that it has already been invented and patented. I am not sure about legal matters. It also kind of sad for us viewers to really like some invention and to find out that it is not new.

Was any kind of search done during the selection? If yes, why wasn't it thorough enough to at least eliminate things that are being sold on the internet? If not, why?

Apr 30, 2006
by Doug's Fan (not verified)

Dear Doug, It was not clear

Dear Doug,
It was not clear to me how much time you get to pitch more than one inventionn idea. Say you have three different ideas to pitch, would you only get 2 minutes to pitch all three? Or would you get 2 minutes per idea? Please clarify.

May 1, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

On the time out, kids love

On the time out, kids love to go into places like that. Examples: building their own for in a chair and blanket, card board box, even ouside in a honey suckle lined fence, etc.. They can see in this invention and know they can get out if they want! The banging together though, I have reservations on. It would be better to put boxing type gloves on them.