Our Onli Travel Patent

Onli Travel’s first patent issued in June of this year. June 30, 2020, to be exact. US Patent # 10694834. (We have some other patents pending as well.) The story of the patent is a good lesson in the ability of everyone to come up with something unique from their everyday life.

I once read an article about the invention of the wheel and the wheeled cart. It had to be INVENTED…there was no way to just stumble on the wheel and axel system, and no counterpart in nature. Whoever invented it (current thinking places the inventor among the Tripolye culture in present day Ukraine, about 3500 BC) had to have the specific intention of creating a device to carry heavy loads some distance… and his invention increased the productivity of agriculture more than six-fold.

My guess is he was a farmer… a regular guy… who sketched out his design in the dirt floor of his house after a long day carrying things to and from the fields on his back. Sore legs and tired back = world changing innovation.

The Onli Travel backpack doesn’t compare with the wheel. But it’s birth is not dissimilar. I was forced to gate check my bag on a frigid January flight to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and when we got there, there was no one to unload the plane for about half an hour. Of course, my jacket was in my bag. As I stood there freezing, I said to myself, “Why can’t bags be modular, so you’d always be able to take them apart and fit them in tight spaces?” Freezing traveler = innovation. 

Like the farmer in 3500 BC, I sketched out my idea… in this case, my hotel room, when I got there and turned the heat on, rather than a dirt floor. Like the farmer, I had a specific idea that I thought would make my life easier. As I sketched the idea of a front and back unit that could disconnect from a center unit and then reconnect into a backpack, I realized that the idea had other advantages…it meant I could unzip my backpack and go to my meeting without having to carry another piece of luggage. The more I thought about it, the more advantages came to mind… just as the farmer 3500 years ago envisioned himself riding on his cart back from the fields, with an ox doing all the work, while he munched on the crops in the wagon.

So, I applied for a patent. It turned out that no one else had ever had this idea. (Maybe no one else was crazy enough to let their bag be gate checked on a flight to Sioux Falls in January!) So, after 8 or 10 iterations with a patent lawyer, multiple drawings, schematics, and designs, my simple idea evolved into a 40 page or so patent application. After approximately two years, the patent issued.

I’ve traveled with my own product (including early prototypes) for almost 4 years now. It’s made travel easier and more fun. It works. It’s more than I imagined it would be. And, it’s enabled Onli Travel to get off the ground competing with companies much larger and more resourced than us. It doesn’t compare at all with the guy who created the wheel and changed the world, but it is nice to know that a regular guy doing his job can still come up with something that makes life easier and less stressful for a lot of people.

Thanks, wheel-inventor, for the inspiration. Keep rolling, and happy traveling! Let’s see what we can come up with next!

Dave, and the Onli Travel team