Page 12 Spring 1988
U. S. Patent Given to Dube for Design Techniques
Used to Construct Airflite Club
five years of trying, Brian Dube was recently awarded a
appealed his case several times since applying for the Airflite patent
originally in 1982. "The patent office really raked us through
the coals," he said.
after he began manufacturing juggling equipment in
who majored in math at
years later while working on the Airflite, Dube discovered that he
could control the balance point by varying the club's wall thickness.
He now makes the wall at the base of the Airflite club approximately
twice as thick as in the handle. According to the patent, the
Airflite's balance point is located at between 55 and 59 percent of
the length of the club.
says he applied for a patent as soon as he discovered the method for
controlling weight with wall thickness. "I made three one-piece
hollow clubs in sequence. No one had made a hollow polyethylene club
before," Dube said. "I applied for the patent before anyone
made a club similar to the Airflite."
also claims to have invented molded polypropylene rings, solid wood
torches and vinyl Stage Balls.
breakthrough in affordability, the Airflite sells for under $10,
whereas prior clubs had climbed to more than $20 each. The savings
resulted from mass production of the Airflite, which doesn't require
the hand work necessary to install dowels, rubber knobs and a handle
wrap on earlier model Dube clubs.
impact will the Airflite patent have on the market? Some manufacturers
responded with surprise to the news that Dube had received a patent on
a prop very similar to ones they also manufacture.
owner Dave Finnigan said it would be difficult to prove the
originality of the Airflite. "The one-piece polyethylene club was
developed by a number of people over a number of years. No one assumed
they invented it," he said.
Smith, owner of Todd Smith Products in Cleveland, Ohio, said he will
continue to experiment with hollow club designs. "There is always
room for more innovation," he said.
now, Dube says he isn't eager to pursue expensive litigation, even
though he feels confident the patent would hold up in court. "I'm
100 percent sure I invented the product," he said. "I
wouldn't have spent all the money ($2,000 for application and legal
fees) and time to get the patent if! wasn't sure." He added
that the patent office spent an "extensive" amount of time
researching the product.
said he would be happy for a larger manufacturing company to purchase
the patent. However, he admitted, "Juggling is still a fringe
kind of thing. Club manufacturing is something only ajuggler wants to
go into." *