Shopping Guide: Holiday Gift Ideas for Inventors

By Gene Quinn
December 7, 2009

It is that time of the year when we frantically look for gifts for Christmas or Hanukkah.  Christmas comes each year predictably on December 25th, but Hanukkah moves around and this year will start at sundown on December 11th, so time is running short.  With the economy the way it is, extravagant gifts are likely not going to be as popular this year in many circles, but there is no denying that there is something special about both giving and receiving this time of year.  With that in mind I thought I would provide some holiday shopping tips this year.  Below are some excellent gifts for any inventor, and the price for most should be attainable for almost any budget.

Periodic Table Mugs (about $10)

This has to be one of the coolest, most unique gift ideas ever. Now you might not want to get it for just any inventor. You probably will get the biggest reaction from someone who knows a thing or two about chemistry. Those who have taken the PLI Patent Bar Review Course know that I am not such a person. I was going to be a chemical engineer right up until I took Chemistry! Well, actually it was Chemistry II, but I digress. This will be something that will either wind up being a favorite coffee mug, or placed on a desk and used as the ultimate pencil/pen holder! I can’t imagine any inventor not finding this to be a wonderful gift, and even someone who is chemically challenged like me would certainly enjoy it. Come to think of it, perhaps those of us who are chemically challenged with our knowledge would be the best recipients!

Independent Inventors HandboookIndependent Inventors Handbook (about $10)

Most of the time books that target independent inventors are either OK or good, and for the money you spend you certainly get good value, making most books in this space worthwhile when priced under $30. In this case, this book is available for about $10 new and provides extraordinary valuable information on all aspects of innovation and commercialization. The book contains valuable legal information, no doubt because it was co-authored by a patent attorney. The other co-author is Louis Foreman, the Executive Producer of Everyday Edisons and the publisher of Inventors Digest Magazine. Louis has packed the book with valuable business, marketing and commercialization information that every inventor should read, find enjoyable and learn from. I highly recommend this book for all inventors. If you want to succeed with your invention from start to finish, this book will explain all the basic information you need to know and prepare you for the journey.

Absent Minded Professor (about $18)

Flubber (about $13)

Perhaps my favorite inventor movie of all time is The Absent Minded Professor.  This classic was remade in 1998 by Disney with Robin Williams as the star under the name Flubber.  The main character, Professor Brainard, is a forgetful professor of chemistry at Medfield College. He invents a substance that gains energy when it strikes a hard surface, called Flubber, which is short for flying rubber. Some of the more memorable moments in the movie include the basketball game where the Professor places flubber on the team’s shoes, which causes some high flying antics, and who can forget how the Professor makes his Model T fly!

OptiVisor Headband Magnifier (about $30)

In doing a little searching for this Inventor Shopping Guide I came across this Headband Magnifier and knew it had to be included.  My uncle was an inventor, having obtained 6 patents on a variety of inventions.  He was always tinkering and he had a headband magnifer just like this one, and growing up I always thought it was way cool.  The older I get and the more difficult it is starting to be to see small print and details I know reading glasses are in the future, but they don’t do the trick like this does. This OptiVISOR is a precision binocular headband magnifier which permits unrestricted efficiency while reducing eye strain, leaves both hands free, and allows three dimensional vision. Anyone whose profession or craft requires close accurate work will find this useful, perhaps particularly inventors. What makes this device particularly useful is that it can be worn over prescription or safety eyeglasses. It is #2 in the Industrial & Scientific category, and has been in the top 100 for over 200 days. Trust me, any tinkering inventor will love something like this, and they will get plenty of use out of it. The only problem might be getting them to focus on other gifts and not immediately going out into the garage or down into the basement to try they out!

Inventors Digest ($27 for 1 year subscription)

Give a gift that keeps on giving all year long — a subscription to Inventors Digest.  Inventors Digest is committed to educate and inspire independent and professional innovators. As the leading print and online publication for the innovation culture, Inventors Digest delivers useful, entertaining and cutting-edge information to help its readers succeed. Inventors Digest is unfailingly ethical and unceasingly bold in its celebration of innovation. The Editor, Mike Drummond, is a former Pulitzer Prize nominee, and the interviews he got in 2009 alone were astonishing (Ben Stiller, Dean Kamen, Joe Gibbs, David Kappos and more). Inventors Digest magazine is now in its 24th year. The magazine is available by subscription for a special price of $27 per year, $47.50 for 2 years or $60 for 3 years.

Patent Law (about $40)

For serious inventors who are looking for a comprehensive guide to patent law that is both approachable, understandable, easy to read and thorough you have really only one option and that it this book, An Introduction to Patent Law, by Professor Janice Mueller of the University of Pittsburgh College of Law. I have taught Patent Law myself for years, and I always recommend this book to students because it covers all the essentials, is accurate and digests complicated material with tremendous clarity. It is not written as a treatise, but rather is written as a self contained guide to patent law. While there are other books out there that are less expensive, the price you pay for this book is well worth the investment. This book covers a wide range of topics and is the ultimate primer for anyone serious about learning patent law.

Gadget Nation (about $13)

Steve Greenberg, the author of Gadget Nation, describes himself as “an invention groupie.” In fact, he has won 12 Emmy Awards for his news reporting and in recent years has focused on innovations made by everyday people. Gadget Nation started out as a television show proposal, but then transformed into a book profiling some extraordinary inventors and their inventions. Steve says that many inventors who read the book tell him they get inspired, saying if they can do it I certain can! Others tell Steve that after reading the book they decided it was too much work to be an inventor. Everyone who reads the book is entertained, and for about $13 new it is an excellent buy. Did you know you can buy diapers for your bird? You will after you read this book, and you will be amazed at how profitable that invention has been!

And from the shameless commerce division… what inventor wouldn’t want IPWatchdog Gear? To see our full assortment of t-shirts, sweatshirts and novelty items visit the IPWatchdog Shop. All IPWatchdog Gear items are sold by and shipped through

Happy holidays everyone!

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 6 Comments comments.

  1. Present Ideas December 8, 2009 4:56 am

    These are great present ideas, love the Mug!

  2. Dreidel December 8, 2009 5:10 am

    Lovely ideas! Thank you

  3. Michael December 8, 2009 12:03 pm

    Gene, nice list, and short review, especially the books. Your geeky magnifier visor is a bit out of date, the new style is with interchangeable lenses and an LED light on top. As you go into trombone mode with your vision you will appreciate the different powered lenses. Here is one I have:

  4. broje December 9, 2009 4:05 pm

    For a light bulb to ride a skateboard without a helmet or any other protective gear seems particularly foolhardy. That’s one dim bulb.