Fun With Patents!

The WalkaBout Drum is covered by two U.S. patents—so far. You may ask, what exactly does that mean? I’m glad you asked! We learned a lot in the process of applying—and receiving—these two patents. Here’s a quick overview of our patent journey.

Basically, a patent provides legal rights and protection for intellectual property, such as an invention, a process, or an idea. Being issued a patent in the United States is typically an arduous and complicated affair. You have to prove, in legal terms, such things as novelty (or uniqueness), usefulness (it has a specific purpose), and non-obviousness (it’s not something that everyone has already thought of). It’s not easy to get a patent.

In the United States, there are two kinds of patents—utility and design. A utility patent is for the invention of something that didn’t exist before, while a design patent is for the new look of an existing product. As an example, a utility patent may be granted to you if you invented the wrist watch. A design patent may be issued to you if you made the wrist watch look different than all other wrist watches. The WalkaBout is covered by one of each.

In general terms, our utility patent was awarded because we created a percussion instrument that is comprised of one enclosed space that produces multiple tones and is amplified. That’s a mouthful! It’s also very cool. Our design patent was awarded because no one had created a percussion instrument in the shape of a guitar body.

Some folks might think that all we did was rip the neck of a guitar off and call it good. Actually, we took that shape—an intuitive, ergonomic and recognizable shape—and created an entirely different instrument. For example, the WalkaBout has a different internal bracing structure to make it more resonant and to make different tones over the face and side surfaces of the instrument. An acoustic guitar needs loads of interior bracing to mitigate the tension of the strings and avoid warping the top surface. When there are no strings (and, therefore, no tension), the need for bracing is reduced considerably, and less bracing means more vibration and resonance.

If you look inside a WalkaBout, you’ll see that our design has a single cross brace, which serves to separate the WalkaBout top surface into several tonal zones. The large internal space at the bottom of the WalkaBout (a.k.a., the lower bout) makes lower tones and the smaller internal top space (a.k.a., the upper bout) makes higher tones. The middle region (a.k.a., the waist) makes a third set of tones. Of course, everywhere you play the WalkaBout—even the sides and back—you discover different tones.

There are a lot of other innovations to the WalkaBout, including our sound hole Star, the amplification system, and our SounDot accessories (including the Snare, the Fan, and the soon to be released Tamb and Riqq, which are all patent pending). We’re committed to innovation and craftsmanship, so you can make music in new and fresh ways. Rhythm for the Journey!