Swimming With Sharks

Editors’ Note: It’s not every day that your pro bono client is a winning contestant on ABC’s Shark Tank. For Christopher Gloria, the successful appearance of Loliware on Shark Tank is one chapter in an evolving relationship that began with his 10 weeks as a MoFo 1L summer associate.

Four years ago, when I started at MoFo as a summer associate, Takamitsu Fujiu, a senior patent counsel in our Northern Virginia office, put the patent application and prosecution work for Loliware on my desk.

I went through the typical process of speaking with the inventors, Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker, and having them explain their invention — an edible alternative to plastic cups. I then drafted the application, the accompanying set of drawings, the description, and a set of “claims” — that is, a statement of what the client is trying to monopolize.

As a summer associate, I was thrilled to be getting this kind of experience. And what a great experience it was!

Chelsea and Leigh Ann at Loliware are truly creative. They came to us as low-income inventors without any knowledge of the IP process, which meant they didn’t have any preconceived notions about the way things should be done. They were just eager to learn about the process one goes through to obtain a patent; they were eager to get our recommendations. That kind of a situation allows a patent lawyer to do a lot of creative thinking.

This also was a rare opportunity for a summer associate. While the firm does its best to make opportunities like this available, the stars had to align perfectly. The project had to have just come in. It also had to be a project that could be completed within 10 weeks. I felt especially lucky to get a project like this during my first summer.

Loliware is also such a fun product! The company creates and produces an edible alternative to plastic cups. That’s something you can easily describe to people. It’s unique and fairly simple. Unlike a lot of the technology that patent attorneys work to protect, Loliware is something that anyone can understand without much explanation.

When Chelsea and Leigh Ann appeared on Shark Tank, the “sharks” loved the edible cups. Apparently, they taste great!

At the end of the segment, Loliware received $600,000 from investors Barbara Corcoranand Mark Cuban for a 25 percent stake in the company.

Once Loliware received significant financial backing, the company went from being a pro bono client to a paying one. MoFo continues to represent Loliware on the patent applications that we filed while I was a summer associate.