Friday, 18 February 2011

More on Probatter

Further to my introductory post of two Fridays ago, brief search revealed that Probatter holds registered trade mark rights for its PROBATTER device in the USA, but not in the CTM, UK, Australia or South Africa. Although searches were not carried out, it is unlikely that trade mark registration will exist in ARIPO or any of its member countries.

ProBatter further have a number of patents for the machine, with the main one seeming to be held under number US2001006064 (A1) entitled Pitching system with video display means. A copy of the patent is available here.

The main claim of the invention reads:
‘…A pitching system including:
means to propel balls interchangeably at different speeds and rotational velocities to different locations;
means to visually display a moving image of a pitcher; and
means to synchronize the propelling of said balls with said moving image…’

A rather interesting debate may be formulated around the claim, and whether it relates to a bowler or a bowling machine in a cricketing sense at all. Pitching and Bowling are two vastly different disciplines practised by vastly different athletes, it therefore stands to reason that a pitching system and a bowling system must be different. If this argument was to succeed, this patent will not protect a bowling application at all!

I do however admittedly have limited experience in patent interpretation and any input by the wordsmiths in the patent world will be appreciated.

This patent appears to have been extended to Australia, Canada, China, the EPO (European Patent Office), Japan, Mexico and of course the USA.

As tends to be the case with many of these US based inventions, Africa has been completely ignored as a potential market – whether rightly or wrongly remain to be seen. It is also interesting to note that India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh have all been ignored. Anyone who has watched cricket in the last 5 years (and who are familiar with the UDRS (Umpire decision Review System) fiasco) will know that the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) hold all the aces and subsequently all the money in cricket.

If one considers that the broadcasting rights of the IPL (Indian Premier League) were sold for US$ 1.026 billion and the brand is reportedly valued at US$ 4.13 billion, this may have been an error in judgement by ProBatter, unless of course the bowling application was never foreseen. (Note: the above figures may be based on the opinion of Mr Lalit Modi, in which can a certain tolerance may need to be applied)

The question of whether the remaining unregistered rights (if any) in the system may be enough to prevent a clever entrepreneur from manufacturing the machine and selling it in unprotected jurisdictions, is moot. Next week I will discuss certain key issues regarding this matter.

On a less serious note, with the Wold Cup starting tomorrow, is anyone brave enough to venture a prediction? Can the Aussies do it again? Will the favourites (India) send that enormous country into ecstasy? Will South Africa…c…c…conquer? Or will Pakistan spring a surprise?

1 comment:

goldenrail said...

While I agree it's too often normal for US companies to ignore Africa, I think in this case it's more likely the US company just didn't think about cricket at all.