The Squatty Potty is a special stool that a user places in front of the toilet when it’s ‘time for business’. The user places her feet on the stool to elevate her knees, thereby helping the user assume a squat position when nature calls. The squat position apparently ‘opens everything up for better evacuation‘. The stool was invented by a family who was helping one of the family members with her constipation. They have since made millions from their stool.
One of the company’s earlier patents is design patent USD677478S1 that was filed in 2012. Design patents protect ornamental features of a product, whereas utility patents (what people typically refer to when discussing a patent) protect the functional features of your product.
Design patents can be a great way to get protection for simple products such as the Squatty Potty – they cost much less to draft, and getting the design patent granted by the USPTO is typically faster and cheaper than getting a utility patent granted. The protection afforded by design patents can be ‘thin’ in that they can be circumvented by a competitor that changes the design but provides the same functionality.
The inventors of the Squatty Potty appear to be very savvy with regards to their intellectual property. They have numerous utility and design patents related to “toilet footrest” and they also appear to have asserted their patent rights in litigation.