Madeleine Key

Madeleine Key has been writing about intellectual property, inventing, and entrepreneurship for more than 15 years. As a ghostwriter, her work has appeared online in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Business Insider, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, The Globe and Mail, and more.

In 2015, she expanded and revised One Simple Idea, the bestselling how-to book about product licensing. With more than 800 5-star reviews on Amazon, it has been taught in numerous college courses, including the MBA program at the University of Fairbanks in Alaska; the University of California at Merced, and the University of the Pacific.

She is the longtime social media director for inventRight, the beloved coaching company, as well as the developer of its learning management system. In 2019, she helped create and administer "How to Launch a Product Without Starting a Business," a 10-unit course for the University of Newcastle in Australia. To her knowledge, it is the first and only undergraduate course devoted wholly to product licensing.
As of 2021, she serves on the Communications Committee for the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding.

As a freelance journalist based in Oakland, her articles about arts and culture were featured in the SF Chronicle, East Bay Express, CALIFORNIA magazine, and on the website Civil Eats. She began writing for The Modesto Bee as a teen and cemented her interest in storytelling at The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s student newspaper.
Currently, she lives on the road in a built-out Sprinter van with her husband John and their Welsh Terrier Bear.

Recent Articles by

To Become Transaction-Ready, Startups Need IP Business Strategists

On the second day of the IPWatchdog LIVE conference held in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month, a panel of experts who advise startups and are passionate about the licensing business model discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by intellectual property. The panelists opened the discussion by describing their experiences with the biggest mistakes startups make in regard to patents. Ian McClure, Associate VP for Research, Innovation, and Economic Impact at the University of Kentucky as well as the chair of AUTM, identified two mistakes commonly made by the approximately 1,200 startups that are spun out from university research in the United States each year.

Understanding IP Matters: How Trade Secrets Foster Collaboration and Sharing

National Science Foundation research shows that many R&D-oriented companies believe that trade secrets are more important than patents and copyrights. How did this happen, and why are trade secrets growing in importance? Bruce Berman, host of the “Understanding IP Matters” podcast, sought out trade secrets expert Jim Pooley to find out why. Pooley is the world’s foremost expert on trade secrets, a mysterious area of the law that has been the focus of employer disputes. A successful Silicon Valley trial lawyer, Pooley served for five years as Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. His commentary pieces on the controversial COVID vaccine patent waiver and other topics have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, and he is a regular contributor on IPWatchdog.

Understanding IP Matters: Crypto and NFTs – Creators’ Rights at the Crossroads

The explosion of the non-fungible token (NFT) market and the jaw-dropping prices being paid for digital art — $69 million for a single work and millions for others ­— have made some fast millionaires, while also giving rise to scammers and a widespread debate about the value of intangible goods. For some artists, the market for NFTs has proved to be a huge boon. For example, Chicago-based photographer Brittany Pierre sold over six figures worth of her art on the OpenSea marketplace in 2021 after teaching herself how to mint an NFT, whereas previously she had difficulty paying rent and groceries. For established artists who have curated an online following and understand the value of scarcity, the opportunities presented by NFTs have produced a level of autonomy not previously experienced in their careers. 

Understanding IP Matters: Gary Michelson on the Courage of Inventors

Gary Michelson isn’t one to back down from a formidable challenge. The prolific inventor’s willingness to tackle seemingly intractable problems in the field of spinal surgery led him to become a successful entrepreneur and eventually, a billionaire. Michelson is frank about his desire to give back to what he describes as the “most robust intellectual property system in the world” — and that starts by educating young people, who are best equipped to change the world. Today, as the founder of Michelson Philanthropies, he directs a wide range of philanthropic efforts, including increasing access to intellectual property education for students. The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property has differentiated itself by creating a robust portfolio of free, helpful resources that situate intellectual property at the intersection of business and law, including courses and a textbook. In the latest episode of the “Understanding IP Matters” podcast by the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding, he points out to host Bruce Berman that all of the most successful companies in the world today were started by people who were college-aged.