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American Inventiveness is Alive and Well in San Diego

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About 150 inventors, "wannabes", entrepreneurs, and service providers gathered for the annual San Diego Inventors Forum contest on June 21, 2012, held at the corporate headquarters of Jack in the Box. The venue was a first for the Inventors Forum, which customarily meets the second Thursday of each month at the law offices of Sheppard Mullin. Ten contestants were selected out of 15 applicants to present their latest inventions for the audience to pick the top three inventions. The entrance criteria was made stiffer this year so that an invention had to be either already patented or "patent pending" and have either a working model or be ready for sale to the marketplace.

Tana and Myla Zapf won the first place prize of $1,000 for their "Curly Petz," a small plush toy that can be worn as a slap-on bracelet. The toys are an extension of their "Slapitz" slap-on bracelet, which won second prize at the contest two years ago. Tana, 13, and Myla, 11, are daughters of inventor Eric Zapf and San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who were both in attendance. For more information on Curly Petz, email Eric Zapf at

Eric Zapf was also among the ten competitors for his invention of Apex Iris Disposal System ─ a trash container with a self-opening and closing lid with a circular aperture like an eye's iris.

Second place went to Raad Khaleel for his Self-Irrigating Container, which collects rainwater and then distributes the collected water to plants for use in drought-prone regions, especially in the Middle East and Africa. Those interested in the Self-Irrigating Container should send email to

Third place went to Gene McGuinness for his Magic Blade, an all-in-one stainless steel kitchen knife and grater that chops, slices, dices, grates, shaves, and strains. For more information on the Magic Blade, email McGuinness at

Other inventions presented were:

RollOnRack, invented by Chris Lindsay and Chris Baker ─ a new, universal mount, roof-rack system that uses rollers and an automatically expanding load bed to provide simple, safe and secure transportation of oversized cargo (like plywood) that no existing roof-rack can. The 4X6 cargo rack expands to 4x10, and the rollers on the tailgate simplify and aid in loading large items into the rack. The roller on the front allows one person to mount the rack on the vehicle. It is made from lightweight and strong extruded aluminum, and the Universal mounting system attaches to almost any vehicle with factory luggage rails. Chris Lindsey may be reached at

"Capture and Route" ─ a Patent Pending device that sends POS Receipts to cell phones and web receipt accounts. The "Capture and Route" comes in two models with either model simply "added to" the existing system with no changes to the existing POS computer or the existing POS printer. The first model is a stand-alone device that connects between the output of an existing computer and the input to an existing printer. The second model is a printer interface board that is inserted into the existing printer, replacing the previous printer interface board.

The "Capture and Route" is controlled by a Cell phone or Handheld Device and captures the computer output that would normally be printed on paper and prints this data into the handheld device or cell phone. Once the printer data is in the handheld it can be digitally searched, sorted, categorized, totaled or sent automatically to your home, office, accountant, your website or multiple destinations. For further information contact Bruce L Hall at

Tinnitus Solution ─ a diagnostic test for objectively measuring tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in humans and animals, developed by Michael Kinder, President/CEO of Kinder Scientific Company, LLC.

One Little Drop for Tannin Reduction ─ an additive that changes the taste of the wine by removing some of the tannins and therefore reduces the astringency of the wine, reduces the bitterness, and improves the body. Wine Improvement Inc. has been working with additives to accelerate this process. Our process is well known in the wine industry and is commonly used to improve the balance of the wine. This material is added from a dropper bottle as one or two drops stirred into a glass of wine. Although this by-the-glass is a new concept, it uses the same materials that wine makers use. The goal is to get a balanced wine so that the acids and tannins do not dominate the taste; this is called a supple wine. Also, the drop has additives to reduce bitterness. Other additives are used to build up the body after removing some of the tannins. Thus, the Tannin Reduction Product is a complex mixture of materials to make wine more balanced or supple. Scot Clark, a retired entrepreneur in the semiconductor industry and amateur wine maker, and his daughter, Libby Simon, are the co-founders of Wine Improvement Inc.

JackHawk 9000 ─ Titanium bottle-opening sunglasses, invented by a group led by SDSU slums Matt Decelles and Zach Luczynski and Patrick Eckstein, an alum of Cal State San Marcos. The dual-use sunglasses came to be through an informal network called "The Commons Designs Group," defined as consisting of "a few friends who recently graduated from colleges around California". CDG has members from Southern and Northern California. Although the sunglasses didn't win the contest, they are already a winner, raising more than their original goal of $16,000 on Kickstarter to enter into production.

Are you ready to turn that idea into a product? Then, let us help you get it started. Come and get motivated, hear successful local San Diego inventors speak at the San Diego Inventors Forum and learn how they developed their marketable products. Come network in a room filled with fellow creative people and get guidance and encouragement to take your first or next steps necessary to turn your ideas into a reality. At our meetings, you meet our Mentor inventors and professionals in many fields. You can introduce yourself, ask financing, business, licensing, marketing, legal and engineering questions and present your ideas to private individuals or for focus group review. You get to ask for what you are seeking, and we try to match your needs.

We members of the SDIF steering committee invite all innovators, inventors, engineers, artists and start-up entrepreneurs to attend our monthly meetings, held the second Thursday of the month from 6:30pm to 7pm for networking and 7pm to 8:30pm for the meeting.

Now that the annual contest is over, the 2012-2013 topics schedule begins again. July's topic will be "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" - harnessing your creative mind, and August will continue with "IP 101" - when, why and how to search for patents, trademarks and copyrights. During the course of the year, topics to be covered include marketing, licensing, branding, networking, and funding. I will be giving my annual presentation in November on "Manufacturing 101" - how to select the right manufacturing processes and sources to make your product. For further information, the San Diego Inventors Forum can be reached at or by calling forum president Adrian Pelkus at 760-591-9608.

The entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great is still going strong amongst us. You have an opportunity to make a difference and help make American great again by making products in America. We welcome you to join us at our next meeting!