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Inventor Coach Stephen Key Scores His Own Big Success


Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog
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Posted: Oct 10, 2011 @ 7:04 pm
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Inventor coach Stephen Key scores his own big success.

Accudial Pharmaceutical®, Inc. has acquired Stephen Key Design, LLC. This acquisition expands AccuDial’s patent portfolio to over fifty patents for weight based dosing and other extended content rotating labels (ECRL), which adds 75% more labeling space to a container.

Yes, this is that same Stephen Key, known to many inventors and entrepreneurs as the man behind Invent Right and the author of One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams Into a Licensing Goldmine.

I reached out to Key via e-mail to ask him about whether this latest personal business success was evidence of him practicing what he preaches.  Key responded: “practice makes perfect and it’s a numbers game. I love the USPTO.”  This is certainly in keeping with his philosophy, which he teaches to fledgling inventors.  Back in the Spring when I interviewed Key after One Simple Idea was published he said: “I know if I have a big idea I am going to need a wall of patents.”  He also told me: “I love continuations, I love hiding my hand.”  It is that type of strategic planning and patience that lead Key to acquire 12 patents on his rotatable label innovation, which is a the core of this Accudial acquisition.

The technology at the heart of the acquisition is known as the Spinformation® Rotating label.  It is a multi-faceted, interactive solution for industries seeking to expand label content in a manageable form.  After all, there is only so much room on a label to provide all the information you would like to without overwhelming the consumer.

Spinformation® Rotating labels provide a new, innovative form. The “spin” label is actually two labels – primary information is displayed on the top label, which also features several windows or clear panels. As the label is rotated, information on the inner label is revealed through the windows. Although the concept is quite simple, the spin label satisfies a multitude of desires and may perform a variety of functions, including providing more space for brand information, cross promotion, multiple languages, larger font, and games or giveaways. Other forms of expanded labels that employ some form of peel technology are inferior to Key’s rotating labels because they begin to look damaged on the shelf after consumers have opened the label to read the contents and then attempt to reseal.  The Spinformation® label may be rotated again and again without incurring any damage, hence the clear market advantage.

The twelve patents in the Key patent portfolio relating to rotating labels all issued between 1998 and 2007.  The patents are:

  1. U.S. Patent No. 5,809,674 – Apparatus and method for increasing an effective information carrying surface area on a container
  2. U.S. Patent No. 5,884,421 – Apparatus and method for constructing a rotatable label device
  3. U.S. Patent No. 6,086,697 - Rotating label system and method
  4. U.S. Patent No. 6,129,802 - Rotatable label system and method of constructing same
  5. U.S. Patent No. 6,212,803 – Rotatable label system on a drinking vessel and method for constructing same
  6. U.S Patent No. 6,237,269 – Roll-fed method for constructing a rotatable label system
  7. U.S. Patent No. 6,385,878 – Rotatable label system including tamper-evident feature and method for constructing the same
  8. U.S. Patent No. 6,402,872 - Rotating label system and method
  9. U.S. Patent No. 6,631,578 – Roll-fed method for constructing a rotatable label system
  10. U.S. Patent No. 6,649,007 - Rotatable label system and method
  11. U.S. Patent No. 7,087,298 – Rotating label system
  12. U.S. Patent No. 7,172,668 – Rotatable label system and method

To some who look at the above list they will be tempted to say “one trick pony.”  Those knowledgeable about the business of patents see a shrewd businessman.  Why would you ever get patent after patent after patent on an innovation that shows no promise?  Why would you ever stop getting patents on a technology that does show promise and one where you are making money?  Smart inventors and companies churn an innovation for as many patents as they can when they hit a success, and if you are an inventor you should be doing the same thing.  The more money you make the more likely you will have competitors and the broader your patent footprint the more likely you will have the means to challenge those competitors.  The prospect of becoming so successful that your company or portfolio is purchased is just an added benefit, providing an additional positive exit strategy.

Stephen Key, however, is not truly exiting.  He will work with AccuDial on pharmaceutical applications for prescription, over-the-counter, nutritional supplements, injectable vials and vitamins. In addition, Stephen will work with Spinformation® partners to achieve even greater success in the beverage, fruit drink, food industry and other commercial applications.

“Stephen Key founded the company in 1998 and is a recognized leader in the $63 billion label industry. He will remain at the helm of Stephen Key Design, LLC and continue as a member of AccuDial’s Board of Directors,” said Bob Terwilliger Chairman and CEO of Accudial Pharmaceutical®.

“In the past thirteen years hundreds of millions of Spinformation® labels have been used on a wide range of products,” said Stephen Key. “Spinformation® labels have been used on Rexall Sundown Vitamins, Children’s AccuDial pediatric liquid medicines, and Kirkwood Brand products, to name just a few. Spinformation® has partnerships with a number of packaging industry leaders.”

Congratulations to Stephen!  For those who haven’t picked up his book – One Simple Idea – what are you waiting for?  It is a quick read and now you have some hard proof that the techniques and strategies he teaches can pay dividends.


About the Author

is a US Patent Attorney, law professor and the founder of IPWatchdog.com. He is also a principal lecturer in the top patent bar review course in the nation, which helps aspiring patent attorneys and patent agents prepare themselves to pass the patent bar exam. Gene started the widely popular intellectual property website IPWatchdog.com in 1999, and since that time the site has had many millions of unique visitors. Gene has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the LA Times, USA Today, CNN Money, NPR and various other newspapers and magazines worldwide. He represents individuals, small businesses and start-up corporations. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

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