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Three years before his November 2002 release from Folsom State Prison in California, Clyde Beasley came up with an idea that would change his life. He was watching a golf tournament on television. “I remember that the golfers were playing in a terrible storm and I thought: ‘What do golfers do when they know they can’t go out and play?'” Beasley contemplated that question for a couple of days and came up with table golf.
He kept the idea in mind for the next three years. When the Los Angeles native was released from prison after serving 11 years on drug charges, he visited area sporting goods stores to see if they were selling anything that remotely resembled his idea. There was nothing.
“I went to a Home Depot and bought a 4×8 piece of plywood, green carpet, glue, and nails and built a prototype of my vision,” he says. “I then invited the neighborhood kids to my mother’s home to play the game, and they loved it. Then I exhibited the game at a trade show in July 2003. From that time on, my life has been upside down.”
Beasley knew that his table golf game had good market potential. He hired a patent attorney, David Volasco, to patent the game. But to patent his idea, Beasley enlisted the help of Inventors Assistance League, a nonprofit organization based in Glendale, California.
IAL (www inventions.org) teaches the process of getting an idea protected and shows inventors how to sell and advertise their idea to attract companies that want to make the product and distribute it. “We teach sales, advertising, marketing, protection, negotiation, and contracts,” says Rusty Ruscetta, a counselor with the company.
Beasley applied for a utility patent, which protects a product with moving or replaceable parts. “When you start to sell your product, the clock starts ticking and you have one year to apply for a patent. If you don’t apply within that year, your idea falls into the public domain,” says Ruscetta, adding that approval may take one or two years and that patent protection is valid only in the U.S. and lasts for 20 years.
Now, Beasley manufactures and sells two versions of The Original Tee & Cue as two distinct game tables. One is The Original Golf & Billiards Combo Table, which combines table golf with billiards, and the second is The Original Golf/Table Tennis. Players use cue sticks and “tee off” from dots situated around the table. The Original Tee & Cue can be purchased by contacting Beasley Creations at 866-426-3822 or at www.teeandcue.com.
Beasley Creations grossed about $75,000 in 2004. The company expects pending deals with retail giants to generate significantly higher revenues in 2005. Future plans call for the introduction of a video game based on The Original Tee & Cue, and table golf leagues.