Patenting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Inventions
Can I Patent a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Invention?
Yes, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu inventions are patentable.
One example of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu patent is the Elite Intensity Band. According to their website, Elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has developed and patented a system to provide a clear visible indication of the level of intensity at which each member wishes to train. “By having a standardized method of measurement for intensity our members can help each other calibrate, our Professors and Coaches can help make better match ups, and new members feel more comfortable participating in the sport knowing there is awareness and process to reduce injury and ensure the best experience for all members.”
How Do I Patent My BJJ Invention?
The inventor of new BJJ gear can draft patent claims and file a patent application directed to that new technology. To be patentable, the BJJ technology must be “new.” In other words, it must be different from all BJJ technology existing before it.
In addition to being “new,” the invention must not be an obvious variation of BJJ technology that existed when the new BJJ technology was invented. The legal test for obviousness is often very complicated. The test of “obviousness” is called the Graham Test, which we wrote about it in an early post.
As a rough guide, an inventor should be able to receive patent protection on any significant improvement over the state of the art. (For example, a better mouth guard, a new fabric, or a new design for a training tool). In the case of BJJ gear: the greater the difference from existing gear, the more likely it is that the invention can be patented. Also, if the invention provides an unexpected benefit beyond similar BJJ gear, then it is probably patentable.
Subject to the above requirements (new and not obvious ), most categories of BJJ gear could give rise to patentable subject matter. For example, innovations in clothing (such as the gi, rash guards), training aids (such as grappling dummies), diagnostic tools (such as video analytics software), equipment (such as mats, clocks, tape, safety gear), chemicals (such as nutrition, sports drinks, sanitizers), and personal care items (such as cleaning wipes or rash cream) could all be patented. Below, I’ve discuss another category of patentable subject matter that creates some interesting questions: Could someone patent methods (aka “processes”) for jiu jitsu? What about methods of teaching or training jiu jitsu?
What about Patenting BJJ Techniques?
In my mind, one interesting question involves patenting BJJ techniques. New BJJ techniques are appearing every day. For example, last night I watched a video of Eddie Bravo teaching rubber guard to Rickson Gracie. (Granted the video was from 2014 but it illustrates innovation in BJJ techniques).
In theory, a truly new BJJ technique could be patented. It would be a NEW method of self defense. Provided that it wasn’t obvious, that method would fulfill the requirements for patentability (New and not obvious). In theory, the patent holder could exclude others from using the technique. Crazy right? Here’s how it would work:
Presumably, at some point, Eddie Bravo’s rubber guard was new. At that time, Mr. Bravo could have filed a patent application on that rubber guard technique. Once granted, Mr. Bravo would have owned the right to exclude all others from practicing/using the rubber guard.
In the case of Mr. Bravo’s rubber guard, patentability is now a moot point. It’s not “new” anymore because more than one year has elapsed since the invention was publicly disclosed on Youtube. Nevertheless, the academic questions about patenting a BJJ technique remain: Could one of the many innovative BJJ practitioners exclude others from using a new technique they develop? Or, could they charge a royalty for using that technique?
Thankfully, I suspect that patenting BJJ techniques will remain a purely academic question. For the patent geeks out there, I’ve included the video below so that you can think about how Mr. Bravo’s disclosure probably satisfies all of the written description, enablement, and best mode requirements within a publicly available time-stamped disclosure. You might also notice how Mr. Gracie’s reaction seems to support the notion that the technique was NOT obvious at the time. (Think “skepticism by experts”).