Los Angeles – Eleven-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater was recently issued a patent by the USPTO for a wave pool. Slater’s Kelly Slater Wave Company applied for patent protection with the USPTO in 2008 after developing a donut shaped wave pool creating a barrel wave. According to Slater, the USPTO issued the patent after a three year application process.
Slater’s application was initially denied by the USPTO because Australian surf company owner Greg Webber already owned a patent for a donut shaped wave pool that produced a barrel wave. The initial denial of Slater’s application forced Slater’s legal team to focus on the differences between the two pools. Granting the patent application, the USPTO agreed that Slater’s wave pool was sufficiently novel and non-obvious for patent protection.
In order to receive patent protection, an invention must be useful, non-obvious, and novel. The novelty requirement necessitates that the invention not already exist in the prior art. In this case, Slater was originally denied patent protection when the USPTO found that his application for a donut shaped wave pool was already the subject of a patent owned by Webber.
Slater, however, managed to convince the USPTO that his pool design was distinct from Webber’s existing patent. Slater focused on the two main differences between the Slater pool and the Webber Pool. First, the two pools differ in the source of the waves. Webber’s pool uses a hull or foil to displace the water toward the surfer. The effect is similar to the wake of a power boat. Slater’s wave, on the other hand, simulates a groundswell, a naturally occurring phenomenon. Second, the Webber pool creates two successive waves while the Slater pool creates only a solitary wave.
Webber and Slater each recognized that the two pools create a different type of wave and experience for surfers.