You Heard It Here First: Safuto - Pure Flush Can NOT be the American Inventor (or can he?)

Ok - I know I sound a little indecisive but I've got some facts and they just don't add up. I originally came to the conclusion that Safuto can not win the American Inventor title but Thinkoutsidethecircle thinks my original draft was a little too decisive. So let me tell you the facts and my conclusion. Let me know if you agree or not.

FACT 1: The INPEX Press Release I just got this Press Release off of The Invention/New Product Exposition (INPEX) website. California "American Inventor" Million Dollar Contender to Exhibit the "Pureflush" Toilet Seat at America's Largest Invention Show PITTSBURGH...INPEX, America's Largest Invention Trade Show, announces that Joseph Safuto, $50,000 award-winning finalist and million dollar contender on ABC's hit show, American Inventor, has invented "Pureflush," the germ-filtering toilet seat. This invention will be exhibited at INPEX, June 7-10, in Pittsburgh.

It's a documented scientific fact that with each toilet flush (lid up or down), an aerosol (spray) of bacteria and/or viruses contaminate everything within the "flush zone" of the toilet bowl from toothbrushes to children's toys around the tub. Via inhalation or hand-to-mouth contamination, large populations of people with compromised immune systems are in danger of illness from colds, flu or heart disease spread this way. Pregnant women, children under five, the elderly, diabetics, HIV and cancer patients are also included. The Pureflush toilet seat traps the aerosol (flush spray), killing germs at the source without the use of vacuums, fans, batteries or mechanical means. A revolutionary solution to a large problem, Pureflush would control the odors during the process. This product is ideal for use in homes, hotels, hospitals, healthcare facilities, schools and restaurants, and would help cut down on illness. The inventor designed this invention because of a death of a loved one. "My mother died from heart disease," said Safuto. "I want to make sure that others with weak immune systems don't suffer from diseases contracted from others via fecal and germ-laden aerosols in the restroom."

Safuto is exhibiting at INPEX with the hopes of finding venture capital and a distributor. Here's a link to the article: INPEX Press Release

FACT 2: ABC American Inventor Factoid #24 If I submit my invention to the show, will I be giving up any rights in my invention? If you do not advance past the audition stage, you will not have granted any rights in your invention to the producers or the network (other than the right to show your invention on television and related promotion and exploitation of the Program). However, participation in the show may be considered a "public disclosure" of your invention which may affect your ability to obtain a patent in certain circumstances. You are strongly encouraged to seek independent legal advice from a patent attorney regarding your invention before coming to an audition. If you advance to the top 9 finalists, you will grant a one-year exclusive, worldwide option for all rights in your invention to the producers & ABC. In consideration for one million dollars as an advance against royalties, the winning inventor will grant to Producer an exclusive, worldwide perpetual license (with possible right of reversion in the event the invention is not exploited by Producer or its designee after a period of five years) of all rights in the winning invention. For all the FAQs go to ABC

CONCLUSION Safuto does not know yet whether he is the American Inventor because the American public will decide on the winner (this is announced on May 18th so the vote must take place on May 11th). So the question is whether he will make it into the final four. What does it say that Safuto is going to the INPEX show looking for funding and distributors? To me, it says he did not make it into the final four. If he did, he knows that if he wins, ABC would have an exclusive license to his invention (pretty much forever) and ABC would be funding the Pure Flush. So what would be the point of going? This is where it gets confusing. The problem is anyone who makes it into the final 9 (I guess this should say final 12) is required to give ABC and exclusive one year license. And Safuto is in the final 12. See what I mean about the facts not adding up.

Can you make any sense out of all of these little pieces of the puzzle? Enlighten me about what you think is going on - please!!! Well, make sure to check back in here at on Thursday when we dissect the show.

Apr 26, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

I think you're right that Pure-Flush is out

I was a top 50 finalist. My take on it is that Pure Flush is almost certainly out, and either almost certainly in violation of their original agreement with ABC, or they came to an modified agreement with ABC. The contract states quite clearly that ABC has rights to the final inventions for quite some time. If Pure Flush is showing their product at the upcoming INPEX, it stands to reason that they're out (in the same way you started seeing previous inventions featured on the show start to appear in the "As Seen on AI" invention galleries at various blogs).

My guess is the final four will be:
Ed: Deceivers Training Pole
Mary-Lou: Death Bike 2000
Peter: Denise Austin's workout belt
Doug: Spherical baby seat

Everyone knows who will win that bet.

Apr 26, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

PureFlush seat could still be in the running

I also read over the agreements and as a good will ambassador any finalist can represent their product but can't negotiate deals with distributors. ABC or the producers have to work out those deals. Inpex has a standard press release that includes terms such as, "looking for funding or distributors".

Apr 26, 2006
by S. Stebins (not verified)

I know the couple and haven't heard from them in weeks sooooo...

I haven't heard from Joe or Jenny in weeks so I'm certain they are still locked away behind $$$ doors. Only winners are not allowed out. Much luck to them. Good product. I'll take two.

Apr 27, 2006
by Amarsir

Possible, not conclusive

According to the deal, coming in second puts Safuto in exactly the same position as being in an 8-way tie for fifth. So I can't necessarily call this indicative of whether he makes the final four. Although that does put more pressure on your second question.

Alexis said: The problem is anyone who makes it into the final 9 (I guess this should say final 12) is required to give ABC and exclusive one year license.
I believe that's not quite accurate.

You can look at a (possibly outdated) copy of the agreement through that site, but the relevant detail is also mentioned in the FAQ you quoted. Finalists are granting an option to license.

Now with that, true enough ABC could sit on their options for a year keeping all non-winning finalists from doing anything at all. But that would be an incredibly lousy thing to do, and likely lead to bad press. So I suspect (admittedly as an optimist) that once the show is over they will fairly quickly decide whether to exercise the option (and take license) or relase the inventor.

In which case Safuto is merely doing a little CYA - which is never a bad idea as long as he doesn't sign any commitments.

Incidentally, what I don't believe was spelled out in the agreement was

  1. What consideration will be given when exercising the option. (Is it another million dollar royalty advance like the winner gets?)
  2. How are those royalties determined? What percentage of what?

I'm not a lawyer, just a business school grad with some law classes, so I could be off on any of this. But that's my best understanding.