Cash arrived at the patent office and picked up an application form from an attractive young woman behind a counter similar to a bank kiosk. What was such a pretty girl doing working in this dusty underground cavern? Anyway, Cash felt confident he could fill out his application right there in the tiny office, and he went to a counter (much like the counters in a bank, with a pen on a chain) and started to fill in the blanks.
Hmm. How did he come up with this patent idea? Really? That was his business. In truth, he thought of it the day he stumbled upon that old man and the boy surrounded by hummingbirds. They didn’t really need to know that, did they?
He looked around the room and noticed for the first time that there was a guy sitting in a worn grey cloth-covered chair in the corner, with a clip board in one hand and an automatic pencil in the other. He almost faded into the chair and institutional walls, except he had a pale face with spots, either freckles or pimples, Cash couldn’t tell.
“Hey man,” said Cash, approaching him.
The man was slow to look up. It was hard to tell his age. Cash suspected youngish, but he had a musty air about him.
Cash said, “Just wondering, have you done this before? Not sure how to do this one part, about the background.”
The man looked resigned, like many of the nerds in high school that Cash called on for help or answers. It was odd to see that expression again. A time warp that confused Cash, at least momentarily.
He agreed to look at Cash’s application. He said, “You don’t want a patent, you want a trademark. This is just an image, a logo. Trademark is different. Google it.”
Yes sir! thought Cash. But ok, maybe the guy was right. He hadn’t really done much research, just had this idea about the hummingbirds that he couldn’t quite get out of his head.
“What are you trying to patent?” Cash asked.
The man said, “It’s a kind of chair.”
“Oh. Right. I’m not about to steal it, man, I barely know the difference between a patent and a trademark.”
In front of the man there was a vintage laminate coffee table, a waiting room staple, which hosted an old Newsweek magazine with the cover torn off, and a fairly recent edition of “Sport Fishing Monthly”.
“It’s a dining chair,” said the old-young man at last.
“Wow, never would have thought of that. A special chair for eating!”
He didn’t exactly smile. “This dining chair reclines, like after a really big meal? Thanksgiving?”
“Ok,” said Cash. “Cool. Lemme see.”
There were some very detailed, labeled drawings of chairs that basically looked like car seats, but with legs. One chair was manual with a lever, like in low-end cars, the other with a slider connected to an electrical system.
“I like it,” said Cash. “How often to you put in these applications? You have lots of ideas?”
“A man with too much time on his hands,” said Cash. “But say, how’d you like to sell this patent to me?”
The man recoiled, ever so slightly. “Nice talking to you,” he said.
“I’m serious. Or maybe we could be partners. I’m looking for an investment.” Which Cash most certainly was, and if nothing happened soon his father might cut him off completely. Entrepreneurs floated new ideas and products all the time. Cash was pretty creative, pretty smart, and had some dollars. He knew from his father that even if investments didn’t pan out, there were juicy tax benefits. Why shouldn’t he cash in?
The man looked like he wanted to bolt for the door. Cash was not completely self-unaware. “Let’s meet for a coffee or beer sometime. I’m not trying to screw you. Like maybe tomorrow around one at the Starbucks next door?”
“Maybe,” said the man.
“Good enough.” said Cash. “By the way, my name’s Cash —yeah really — and I really do wanna invest.”
The man stood up and took Cash’s outstretched hand. “I’m Leep,” he said.