United States Patents do not belong to those terrified by paperwork. The application process calls for a black-and-white welter of forms, abstracts, descriptions, claims, amendments and, in some cases, appeals. We’re protecting intellectual property here, folks, and there are lawyers involved. A peculiar set of attorneys, odd in their wanting to wade knee-deep into the minutiae of what belongs to whom for how long and why.
So it comes with some pomp, some legal precedence, this Cobalt swim step and its patent. As is with so many great ideas – gravity, yeast, the hula-hoop – the Cobalt swim step operates as a beautiful simplicity, its form matched honestly to its function. Kiddos with inflatable wings pushing their pudgy little deltoids right up into the sunlight can scamper in and out of the water with natural-born ease and public safety, thanks to this step, this lift and soft drop, this elegant contraption of electropolished stainless steel deploying – and then retracting to its hiding place –in the splash of a cannonballer’s fun. We’re talking seconds here, folks.
As with so many other Cobalt innovations, other Cobalt creations of an industry’s standard, there will come imitators. From the bow scuff-plate to the backing on siderails to the flip-lip captain’s seat, Cobalt design has been copied and copied again by would-be competitors. And they will most certainly now be investigating the nuts-and-bolts of the swim step, eager to adapt it for their own borrowed use. But not for seven years or so. Not if this federal government of ours has anything to say about this particular little deal.