3 Entrepreneurs Who Have Demonstrated the Importance of Strong Patent Rights

February 26, 2019

Patents have helped shape the American economic and cultural landscape as we know it for over 200 years. Inventors and entrepreneurs continue to see the value of IP and patents, especially as our country continues to compete for technological innovation on a global scale. In this blog post, we highlight three entrepreneurs who believe in strong patent rights and have succeeded in business in part because of patents and intellectual property.

Randy Hetrick, Former Navy Seal and Founder of TRX

After his military service, Randy Hetrick received his MBA from Stanford. He then built a $50 million company, TRX, from a clever, patented invention involving resistant exercise straps.

After winning a copyright infringement case against a company selling a knockoff product of his exercise equipment, Mr. Hetrick emphasized the importance of strong intellectual property protections, stating, "The internet has enabled a class of e-commerce parasites to evolve and feed on the investment and hard work of others. [They] steal the trademarks and copyrights of brand leaders to manipulate online 'search results' and bamboozle customers into buying cheap, dangerous knockoffs that violate the patents of brands (like TRX) that have poured their life's work into developing the market and investing in research, product innovation and consumer education.”

Bryan Pate, Founder of ElliptiGO

Bryan Pate has a similar story to Hetrick. In 2008, Pate created, patented, and commercialized an elliptical bicycle, and launched his successful exercise company, ElliptiGo.

A strong proponent of patent rights, he has declared, “The reality is that, if it were not for the patent system, the rate of innovation would drop precipitously.” This is because, as he explains further in this op-ed, “[H]aving an enforceable patent is sometimes the determining factor for whether or not an inventor takes on the risk of actually starting a company.”

Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx

Inventor Sara Blakely achieved her success from her company Spanx, which markets undergarments, maternity clothing, and leggings. Her women’s wear company would not have progressed to where it is now without the help of protective IP laws, with Blakely having obtained a patent for her original hosiery concept and a trademark for the name, Spanx, early on in the development of her company.

Blakely wrote: “So one day, I cut the feet out of a pair of pantyhose so I could wear my white pants. That was my "aha" moment. I kept my idea to myself. The only people I told were patent lawyers and people in the undergarment industry.”

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