February 28, 2009

The Snuggie is a "cheap knockoff" that "undermines the integrity" of Slanket.

Consider the sad tale of Greg Clegg, who invented the Slanket:
Gary Clegg said it began in 1998, when he was a freshman at the University of Maine in Orono and living in a chilly dormitory. He cut a hole in his sleeping bag because his TV remote wouldn’t work through the fabric, and subsequently asked his mother to sew a sleeve onto it, he said. Mr. Clegg added a second sleeve and otherwise refined the design in the ensuing years.
But it is the Snuggie that has captured our imagination. The place of honor in our culture belongs to the best advertiser:
In October, the company started showing the two-minute infomercial, where Snuggie wearers read, knit and eat popcorn, while a Snuggies-ensconced family cheers in the stands at a football game. Allstar bought more than $10 million in television spots, which offer the Snuggie for $19.95. (The Slanket — larger and made from considerably thicker fleece — costs $44.95.) The ad, by Blue Moon Studios, is intentionally over the top, Mr. Boilen said.

“We were definitely in on the joke,” he said. “Do we expect a family to wear these to a football game? No.”

Hundreds of videos on YouTube parody the ad, with the most popular garnering more than a million views.

“Certain products transcend advertising and become an indelible part of popular culture,” Mr. Boilen said.
Can Clegg sue? No, he doesn't think so, and anyway he won't.
Mr. Leno’s quip about the products looking like bathrobes worn backward, [patent lawyer Clifford A.] Ulrich said, actually resonates legally: because there are many products that are shapeless garments with sleeves, like hospital gowns or religious vestments, and because the sleeved blankets are neither made from innovative materials nor have complicated moving parts, there is little that is proprietary about them from a design standpoint.
And, actually, even Slanket wasn't first. There was also Freedom Blanket, but Clegg invented his invention independently:
“I would never go around saying that I came up with something if it wasn’t true,” Mr. Clegg said. “I would have no right to be annoyed with the Snuggie people if that was the case.”
The problem is that the invention was so obvious that it was destined to be invented and reinvented by an endless chain of couch potatoes who wanted to change the channel and felt conflicted: What is worse, this show or the pain of a slightly cold arm?



fcai said...

Are they available in flannel?

Bob said...

I think slanket suffers from a poorly thought out name, from a marketing perspective. The snuggie keeps you snug, but the slanket keeps you...slank?

AllenS said...

In the winter, I wear a long sleeve sweatshirt and have a blanket over me when I'm on the coach watching TV. I'm thinking about sewing a swearshirt arm onto the blanket and calling it the SweatWow.

Walt said...

Nothing new to me, I used to sell these things back in the 80's
German Military Surplus

Richard Fagin said...

The WTF blanket video says it all.

MadisonMan said...

Slanket is a horrible name. Slacker skank? It doesn't remind me of blanket at all, which I suppose it's supposed to.

MadisonMan said...

I should have read Bob's comment first. (laugh)

Curtiss said...

My wife said to me that she might like to have one of those things.

I said to my wife that I might like to get a divorce.

John Hawks said...

McCall's has sold a pattern for these (or something essentially similar) for many years -- my wife made them for our parents in around 2000.

Shanna said...

A friend in Connecticut bought one of those things and posted a picture on facebook. I agree Slanket is a stupid name, and how the hell can you "undermine the integrity" of the slanket? That guy is just pissed that he hasn't made a mint off the thing. But you have to realize that it's not the quality of your product that determines whether you become the market leader.

I love the fake commercial and the "never getting laid" side effect. Heh.

Jim said...

The men in the snuggie ads look like Wiccans in red ceremonial robes.

If they could find a virgin, she/he wouldn't have a chance.

Curtiss said...

That guy is just pissed that he hasn't made a mint off the thing.

But he has.

"Besides, Snuggie apparently has been good for Mr. Clegg, who projects that Slanket’s revenue of $4.2 million in 2008 will increase to as much as $9 million in 2009."

Is this a great country, or what?

But he'll probably make more than $250K, so he'll have to pony up like the rest of us. It's Slanket-Snuggie-Stimulus.

Ralph said...

How can people encase themselves in synthetics? I would melt into dew.

chuck b. said...

Greg Clegg--love it.

BJM said...

We were gifted with a Nuddle at Christmas. The synthetic fabric is a bit too warm for me, although the foot pocket is quite a good idea.

We prefer our hand-knitted wool afghans, so we threw it over the rocking chair and the cats quickly claimed it...contentedly purring and kneading, er, knuddling?

EDH said...

"Get off my invention."

EDH said...

Yea, let's wrap grandpa up in that cheap blanket thing made in China.

William said...

The Snuggie is a play on Huggies. They play into our wish for infantile regression. We wish to be warm and safe and swaddled--epecially when we watch television on the couch while eating small, soft foods that don't involve too much chewing. Teddy Roosevelt would never own a Snuggie. Proust probably owned something similar to a Snuggie.

former law student said...

There was also Freedom Blanket, but Clegg invented his invention independently

Independent creation is s defense to copyright infringement, but not to patent infringement. There can be only one inventor -- in this country, the first to invent, so long as he did not abandon the invention.

Revenant said...

I was amused when these things started showing up, because I (and, I'm sure, countless other people) had for a long time thought a blanket with sleeves would be a great idea. Anyone who keeps their thermostat low during the winter has faced the conundrum of being warm under a blanket but needing to use his or her hands for something.

My first thought when I saw the commercial was "hah! someone actually invented one!".

Radish said...

1998? My mother has had two blankets with a zipper and snaps that form sleeves since the early 80s. They end up on my inflatable mattress when I visit her--heavy polyester and hot as hell.

Next time I'm there I'll check for tags, see who this Clegg guy ripped off.

Walt said...

This is better, I can see myself snuggling up to Althouse in one of these!
Good taste is timeless.

nathan said...

When cold in my home, I put on my PhD grag, tuck my hands into the sleeves in the way that medieval scholars did to keep warm. It is not very warm in itself but over regular clothing it provides another layer and makes use of something that has little or no use any longer. Additionally, can be worn on sleeper trains as nightgown and can also be (finally) used as funeral shroud.

Shanna said...

But he has.

"Besides, Snuggie apparently has been good for Mr. Clegg, who projects that Slanket’s revenue of $4.2 million in 2008 will increase to as much as $9 million in 2009."

Well, hell, I don't know what he's griping about!

I do think it's a good idea to an extent. It's basically a super robe. But when I'm really cold I just wear my robe and I find it quite warm.

Ralph said...

When cold in my home, I put on my PhD grag
Do you wear the funny hat, too?

XWL said...

I think a better solution would be to use a remote that doesn't require a line of sight (like RF or bluetooth), then you can stay snuggled up under an actual blanket rather than wear one of these monstrosities.

But, slanket is a great term. I'm pretty sure it was an insult back in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Example: "It has come to my attention that while you were carousing with men and women of low reputation at the publick house, you made insinuations that my dear eldest daughter had not yet married in part because you described her as a slanket. This calumny must not stand, if you do not publickly withdraw this statement, I will be forced to demand satisfaction from you on the field of honor. Good day to you sir!"

former law student said...

I'm pretty sure [slanket] was an insult back in the 17th and 18th centuries.

What Robbie Burns did not write:

Wee, slanket, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

former law student said...

I'm sorry for posting so much, but my wife is out of town and I lack things to do.

But I did find that "The Slanket" infringes on the trademark of J. Houck's Slanket for babies


Ms. Houck was using the name Slanket back in 1998, as shown by this USENET posting:

From: mcho...@aol.com (MCHOUCK)
Subject: Re: Real TV Wants Video of Inventions!
Date: 1998/11/19
Message-ID: <19981118204901.13940.00000704@ng73.aol.com>#1/1
X-Deja-AN: 413351270
References: <3647983F.866@realtv1.com>
Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com
Newsgroups: alt.inventors
X-Admin: n...@aol.com

Dear Mike,

I have a patented baby product I call "THE SLANKET"

Call during business hours. 914 658 8764 ask for : J Houck

Cedarford said...

Blankets with sleeves go back to prehistory.
Sewn together into a tube, narrowed at the neck or bunched up into a hood, you have your basic ancient single garment of Mesopotamia, Asia. And 5,000 years afterwards called names like "tunic, gown, peasant robe, etc."..Adding sleeves to keep arms & hands free was hardly ancient rocket science.

Agnes B Bullock said...

I have a Slanket from QVC, and I LOVE it. They are great for hotel rooms (we just spent two months in Ohio, need I say More). I had purchased the Slanket long before the Snuggie ads appeared. (I love those ads, btw- they are so cheesy, and the actors appear in lots of other cheesy ads)

Methadras said...

As a mechanical engineer and product design & developer I'm constantly and continually amazed at the rash of Seen On TV products that infest our social consciousness in this country. These products are mostly bullshit, however, I must disclaim myself and admit that I've bought a couple and still use them today. I won't tell you what they are because of the sheer embarrassment in the fact that I actually bought something off the tv. I disgust me.

Walt said...

Hey! Don't be talking about my Veg-O-Matic that way.

al said...

Mary Katherine Ham went a little political in her Snuggy parody

As for the Slanket - I saw an ad for it in Maximum PC a couple of years ago. Seemed strange back then...

MPH said...

I am a UMaine grad as well (Class of 2000) with a similar tale to tell. In the summer of 1999, I created RateMyFace.com -- generated 100K visits in the first week -- realized it was way too much work to maintain with my final year of school on the horizon, so I shut it down temporarily. When I relaunched soon after graduation, AmIHotorNot.com had copied the concept. They got a lucky break when the NY Times chronicled our rising fame, then axed our URL at the last second because we allowed teenagers and hotornot was 18+. HotorNot exploded from there into the national lexicon. I went on to develop RateMyProfessors and RateMyTeachers from the sizable audience we generated through RMFace, so all was certainly not lost -- but was a tough pill to swallow for many years being the inventor, but #2 (just like the superior Slanket). Note: I no longer own RateMyFace.

I think there is something in that Orono water...

coffee maker said...

the Snuggie gives me an excuse to dress like a pink Jedi

Paxeon said...

Sometime around 1990, when I finished my undergrad at Asbury College (Asbury University now), I had an idea for a long, warm blanket with sleeves. I was an avid reader and got tired of having to take my hand out from under the blanket to turn the page. (It was hard enough to hold the book!) I was going to call it, naturally...The Book Blanket. I drew the plans on a sketch pad and presented it to my grandmother with high hopes of enlisting her help to create one that I could present as a prototype. Within one week she had one sewn together. She had used an old yellow-ish blanket and two sleeves from one of my grandpa's thermal underwear tops. It was not 'identical' to my drawing, which was a more flowing, less confining pattern, but grandma had the idea (and it was free, so I wasn't complaining). I went down to Columbus, OH to do some patent research, fully intending to patent my new invention. I entered Seminary soon thereafter, stayed to get my Doctorate, and just put the 'Book Blanket' on the back burner. I wish I had followed through, providing page-turning freedom to book lovers everywhere, but I'm glad someone was able to bring it to market to emancipate and warm the masses. It's obviously been a 'hit'! - Dr. Scott McQuate