Case Study: Mango Stick
When Andrey Zoska came up with the Mango Stick, he had high hopes for his invention.
As its name suggests, the Mango Stick goes through the mango flesh and into the seed to hold it firmly in place, allowing the fruit to be peeled, sliced or eaten without the messy hands usually associated with mangoes.
Zoska and his family had plans to manufacture the invention, so they took the initial steps in having it patented.
Next he set about turning his intention into a commercial product. This is when he ran into a couple of problems.
The first problem was manufacturing.
Andrey built the prototype out of steel, but his daughter Larisa explains that this was ‘really expensive’. They explored other manufacturing options, such as having them made in China where it would be cheaper, but Larisa said the family was concerned about putting up a lump sum to have them manufactured then ending up with a lot of Mango sticks they couldn’t sell.
This was because of the second problem – lack of demand for the product.
Larisa said her father used the local market as a testing ground to see what demand for the product would be like.
'He didn’t get that much interest,' says Larisa, who worked on the project with the family.
They also didn’t get any interest from kitchen utensil companies in buying the designs or manufacturing the product.
As a result, the Zoska family decided not to pursue any further patent production – a decision that potentially saved them many thousands of dollars.
The Mango Stick is an example of how inventors need to tie their patent strategy to the commercial viability of their invention, and consider giving up patent protection if it doesn’t look as if they’ll be able to make money from their invention.
‘The people that bought them loved them, but there were people who said they didn’t see the value in it because they were happy eating a mango with their hands and they didn’t care about getting juice all over them.’