Scott Jordan: TEC and ScotteVest Part One

ScotteVest from Shark Tank Technology Enabled ClothingScott Jordan, TEC (Technology Enabled Clothing) entrepreneur who appeared on last Friday's Shark Tank and I had the opportunity to speak after the show. This is the first in a series of three posts based on that discussion.

The Scott Jordan appearance on Friday's Shark Tank spurred a lot of controversy with sharks and fans alike. He was vilified for being a “patent troll” (someone who files frivolous patent infringement lawsuits for profit) by Mark Cuban and accused by the other sharks for being greedy by only offering a share of the licensing piece of his business and not part of the $6 million plus per year retail division, ScotteVest.

Scott was looking for $500,000 for 15% of the TEC brand which he wants to license to clothing manufacturers. The sharks wanted him to include 15% of his retail business as part of the deal and Scott was having none of it. When he began to explain the licensing business, Mark Cuban wanted no part of it and got all over him for frivolously litigating in defense of his patent. Mark went so far as to get on a soapbox and spew that these sorts of lawsuits are “what is wrong with this country.” This struck me as disingenuous at best by Mr. Cuban. If I went and set up shop selling Dallas Mavericks tee shirts without a licensing agreement in place, both Cuban and the NBA would have an army of attorneys and most likely the Justice Department descending on me in no time. Cuban's attack on Mr. Jordan is even more self-serving when you realize the NBA has a recent history of ignoring enforceable intellectual property infringement claims. Patents were created to protect ideas and to protect the creators of those ideas so they may profit from them. Any billionaire who makes a good chunk of change from licensing ought to understand that.

Scott's patents for TEC are real and valid. He created a clothing innovation that was initially patented, re-issued and re-examined by the US Patent office. It is a valid patent. It's not the only clothing related patent out there either. Levi's jeans patented the rivets in their dungarees; Velcro, a product used in some of ScotteVest's clothing, is patented; the zipper was patented; there is even a patent pending for Tazer Proof clothing. It's not a new concept to patent clothing by any stretch of the imagination and it would be foolish not to defend against anyone infringing on any patent.  One of the very first questions the sharks ask whenever an entrepreneur presents a new gadget is: “is it patented?” Even Barbara Corcoran said (on Twitter Friday night), “a pantent (sic) is only as good as the money that you are willing to spend to defend it.”

Come back for Part Two Tomorrow

 

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the write up. We are preparing an Official Statement too, for release tomorrow, along with a commentary of the actual negotiations. I think it will be very interesting and insightful.

    Scott Jordan, CEO

  2. “Preparing an official statement?” Please, please tell me this is all just a big gag.

  3. Scott Gerhardt says:

    What part of it would be a gag? When you are running a company that does this kind of sales and holds this kind of intellectual property, and then you go through the roller coaster of both positive and negative publicity that comes from having an hour plus long presentation/negotiation crammed into less than 20 minutes of television, you have to be prepared. There were two stories here: What happened, and what we saw. The difference between the two is on the editing room floor. ABC wants buzz and ratings. Buzz and ratings sells advertising and makes them money. And, as I’ve heard so many times in business, “Controversy Creates Cash”. ABC posts this up as controversial, and boom – ratings. Scott is right to run a statement on this. Just because something like that is put out there doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to defend yourself from it.

    No, while I don’t know Mr. Jordan personally, I highly suspect this is no gag – just smart business.

  4. I think the show portrayed the sharks as being the arrogant fools they are. They think they can call the entrepreneurs names all they want but when they don’t get what they want they cry like little babies. Scott on the other hand came across as being someone who knew what he was talking about, knew what he wanted and didn’t want, a tough no nonsense negotiator who I would love negotiating in deals for me. As for saying “Your out” to the sharks, the sharks asked him for his answer and Scott gave it to them. Good for you Scott. I would love for you to represent my company anytime.

  5. Scott and Ron, with all due respect to your opinions, spend some time looking up Jordan’s history of stunts (mad-up Delta airlines “controversy,” challenging Steven Colbert, etc.). He makes a silly, name-dropping call to Wozniak who says on his own Facebook page that he is not on Scott’s “board” (just a friend who gets free stuff) and Jordan is now challenging Mark Cuban to “be a man” and have a debate with him… it is 100% about PR and you are getting sucked into it. I absolutely respect any business person who does effective PR, but not when it’s consistently slimy, manipulative and disguised as something it’s not. Do a little googling (or even read Scott’s own online stuff, and I think you might have a change of heart.

  6. Scott Gerhardt says:

    Bad publicity is better than no publicity. Controvery Creates Cash. Shall I continue with the very true cliches?

  7. BTW, am I the only one who noticed the ScotteVest ad scrolling across the top of this site? Gotta admit that’s funny.

  8. Below is an email I sent to my contacts. If you are willing read it and more importantly watch the extended commentary in this lengthy video, explaining what happened without the edits, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WheCO4RgMGI, I think you better understand what was involved.

    Dear friends, family, and distant relations-

    There has been some controversy arising from my appearance on last week’s episode of Shark Tank. I certainly wanted to stir things up; some of the reactions were expected, but some development we could have never seen coming. Just yesterday I engaged Mark Cuban in a constructive and public debate on Twitter regarding the patent system.

    In response to the controversy that has followed the episode, I have prepared an official statement as well as video commentary. The video commentary (extended-dvd-style) can be found at this link. A recording of the official statement can be found here, and the written version follows below. Again, I want to apologize for crowding your inbox but, more importantly, thank you for your continued support. Despite some ruffled feathers, I was pleased with the outcome and am hopeful about the continued momentum.

    Scott

    Why I Walked Away from $1 million on Shark Tank

    On Friday, March 2, I appeared on ABC’s reality show Shark Tank. The premise of the show is as follows: an entrepreneur enters “the tank” with an idea and an offer. He or she pitches the product or business, and the sharks decide whether or not they want to invest – the two parties either reach an agreement, or the entrepreneurs leave with nothing but some good exposure and a memorable experience.

    Since the show aired on Friday, I have received overwhelming feedback from all over the board. The criticisms of those who took issue with the appearance fall into a few distinct categories. There are those who feel I used the platform merely for PR purposes – that I was never interested in a deal, but rather that I took advantage of the exposure. I am also receiving criticisms in regard to my demeanor – that I was disrespectful, aggressive, and less-than-cordial in my interactions with the sharks (although usually expressed in more colorful terms).

    My response is as follows: I entered the tank in hopes of gaining a strategic business partner who would help me establish my licensing company, TECTechnology Enabled Clothing®, in a way that I have as yet been unable to do. The exposure inherent in an appearance on national television is something no entrepreneur would ignore. It was only after it became apparent that none of the sharks were interested in making a deal for TEC® that I decided to focus on the PR value of the experience.

    I knew that although I did not get a deal with one of the sharks, there would still be an opportunity to expose the world to TEC® and to SCOTTEVEST, and I was not about to let that opportunity slip by. That said, there was no “free” publicity. As quoted at the end of the show: “Sony Pictures Television, a Designee of Mark Burnett, and ABC may receive equity in or a share of revenues generated by the businesses included in this program.” I went in pitching TEC®. If I made a deal for SCOTTEVEST (or even mentioned the name), this company would also be subject to this agreement. Far from free publicity. Those who know me know that I am transparent to a fault; I cannot lie and I cannot act. What you saw was the real deal.

    Publicity issue aside, I feel that the segment the public saw on Friday needs some context; there was a lot the public did not see from the interaction. The 60 minutes that I was in the tank was edited down to around 20. ABC, in the end, is trying to make good TV, and no one can blame them for doing that job well (which begs the question, wasn’t this a publicity stunt for them?). Granted, that is not the whole story, and to blame editing entirely would be a cop-out. What you saw were my honest reactions in the midst of a heated debate. I really did call Robert’s initial offer insane, and I did tell Robert and Kevin they were out. I argued fiercely with Mark Cuban about intellectual property rights (he later indicated in a podcast that he made it his mission to make me cry), about standing by my patent and about the essential “American-ness” of the patent system.

    But let’s put this in perspective. How many times have you seen entrepreneurs – people who are really starting out, who have a great idea and need guidance and money – flounder into the tank and get taken advantage of? The difference between my segment and most others is that I am a businessman and that I was willing and able to engage the sharks in a serious business interaction. I most definitely wanted to strike a deal with one or more of them, to get TEC® off the ground as a licensing company with much more to offer than a single patent for a wire management system. But I was not about to turn wobbly kneed, forget why I was there, and sell away part of the company that my wife and I have put our hearts and souls into for over ten years.

    Every time I watch the episode (which is not as many times as some people would like to believe), I see something else – I remember what happened to induce a reaction, or I think about what one of the sharks said that set me off. I see the moments in which I appear arrogant, and knowing myself, I see what I really was: cornered. A good friend of mine wrote after he watched the show: “[you] come across as a guy who just loves his company and product…” I am a guy who loves his company and his product, and in those moments, I was a guy who saw that company threatened. Those sharks are persuasive personalities, and they are powerful people. From a businessman’s perspective, these are the people we look up to. The pressures add up – the intimidation factor, the thrill of being in the company of the sharks –but as the sharks and the rest of America learned, it would not be bullied into taking a bad deal.

    To recap: I entered the tank with a deal that I thought was reasonable. I would like to mention that over the course of the weekend I have had interest in TEC® alone, which confirms that this was a realistic pitch. The sharks wanted something else, however. What ensued was an aggressive negotiation between equals, and we ended up not making a deal – it is that simple. No one on that panel is involved in the future of TEC® or SCOTTEVEST, but I am confident that the future is bright for both. I want to thank my friends and followers for their support via Twitter, Facebook, and blogging; SCOTTEVEST was built on transparency and through direct relationships with customers. I want to emphasize that this is not “just TV” at this point. The issues that arose during the filming – about protecting intellectual property, about the value of my licensing subsidiary, and about what it means to negotiate in business – are very serious to me. Expect these debates to continue.

    Scott Jordan
    CEO and Co-Founder
    Tec® and SCOTTEVEST, Inc.

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