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One of the more memorable products that was widely featured on a series of infomercials was the Snuggie.  The Snuggie is essentially a blanket with sleeves that allows you to move your arms around without uncovering your upper body when it’s cold.  This gives you the flexibility to change TV channels with a remote, do some knitting or even eat popcorn; all while not having to expose your upper body to the cold air.  The Snuggie infomercials became such a sensation that some very popular comedians joked about the blankets, including Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, and they were also parodied on Saturday Night Live.

While it’s more likely that you are familiar with the Snuggie, the original blanket with sleeves was actually invented by Gary Clegg while he was a freshman at the University of Maine (there has been some dispute as to whether the makers of the Freedom Blanket were first, but Gary Glegg maintains he developed the original).

Gary’s flash of cash for a blanket with sleeves came after he couldn’t change TV channels when he was tucked into his sleeping bag because the fabric interfered with the remote – so he decided to cut a hole in the bag which allowed the signal from the remote to reach the television.  Later his mother sewed a sleeve into the sleeping bag and the Slanket was born.  Gary’s Slanket gained some notoriety and was featured on Donny Deutsch’s television show called the Big Idea (you can still see this segment on YouTube) and he also pitched the product on the QVC network.

Although it took Gary Glegg quite a few years from the time of his initial flash of cash until the he launched it commercially on, the blanket with sleeves has generated millions in sales for his company and created an even larger opportunity for the Snuggie.

There are a couple of key points you should take away from the Snuggie and Slanket stories.  Firstly you should be asking yourself how was the Snuggie able to come along and after the Slanket and essentially steal a large percent of the market through its infomercials?  The answer is that Gary did not have a patent on the Slanket, and therefore anyone could make a similar product and sell it commercially.  You should always consider obtaining a patent for your flash of cash, or at least filing for one, even if it never gets approved.