Posts in Inventors Information

The Business Responsible Approach to Inventing

I continually preach to inventors the need to follow what I call a “business responsible” approach, which is really just my way of counseling inventors to remember that the goal is to not only invent but to hopefully make some money. Truthfully, the goal is to make more money than what has been invested, which is how the United States Congress defined “success” in the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999. Odds of being successful with one of your inventions increase dramatically if you engage in some simple steps to ensure you are not investing time and money on an invention that has little promise.

Keep Your Money In Your Wallet Until Proof of Concept

After you savor that wonderful “Moment of Discovery” and you have finished daydreaming about striking it rich, you really do need to move forward to take a cold hard honest look at your new product. At this point you don’t have to go into excruciating detail, just a quick overview to make sure it is worth pursuing. The questions generated will form the basis of your development process. A full Proof of Concept Analysis consists of three equally important parts: Business Analysis, Ownership Analysis and Product Analysis. Let’s take a look at each part individually.

Converting Your Inventions to Dollars and Cents

How often have you felt you had a great invention that was just what the world was waiting for. Unfortunately, many would-be entrepreneurs are under the illusion that that is all they need for someone to beat a path to their doorstep, big check in hand. If only it were that easy! The average entrepreneur usually does not think about what is really necessary to make their invention a commercial success. As a result, their great ideas often fizzle before they ever have a chance to get to the marketplace.

Trademark Power: Not All Trademarks Are Created Equal

You have probably had circumstances when you have positively associated with a certain trademark.  Perhaps you were traveling and had the option to eat at one of several restaurants.  You might have preferred a sit-down meal, but you might have opted for McDonald’s or Burger King instead because you are familiar with what you will get, know it is going…

Patent Searching 102: Using Public PAIR

If you are really serious about doing a high quality patent search on your own I recommend doing whatever you can to find 1 or 2 patents or patent applications that closely relate to your invention, whether that means in terms of structure or concept. I hear all the time that inventors do searches and cannot find anything relevant, which is unbelievable. If you do a search and find nothing then you are doing something wrong. See No Prior Art for my Invention. Do whatever you have to, and in a pinch to find something quick that is at least somewhat relevant Google Patent Search will do. Then visit Public PAIR and see what you can find out about the prior art found and used by the patent examiner against that patent or patent application.

Fox News Sunday Discusses Patent Stimulus to Create Jobs

This past Sunday there was a brief but very interesting segment on Fox New Sunday that actually discussed the plight of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and how the enormous backlog of inventions in the queue at the USPTO is preventing organic job grow at a time when our economy desperately needs job creation. Sitting in for Chris Wallace was Brett Baier. He was interviewing Mark Zandi, who is Chief Economist for Moody’s Analytics, and Liz Claman, an anchor on the Fox Business News channel. The topic for this 11:54 second segment was the health of the U.S. economy and what can and should be done by our leaders in Washington, DC. Surprisingly, at least to me, Claman brought up the USPTO as an ideal opportunity for “instant stimulus.”

Drafting Patent Applications: Writing Patent Claims

I am frequently asked if it is a good idea for inventors to file their own patent applications, and every time I am asked that question I suspect the person doing the asking already knows the answer, but is hoping that they might find someone who will tell them what they want to hear. You have probably seen the commercial where the guy is sitting at his kitchen table and is on the phone with the surgeon who is telling him where to cut to take out his appendix while using a butter knife. The guy asks: “shouldn’t you be doing this?” Well, writing your own patent application is a little like taking out your own appendix.

Settlement Announcement: Lawsuit Against IPWatchdog Over

On May 17, 2010, Invention Submission Corporation (ISC) d.b.a. InventHelp® and IPWatchdog, Inc. settled the litigation initiated by ISC against IPWatchdog, Gene Quinn and Renee Quinn (collectively IPWatchdog). Effectuation of the settlement has taken longer than initially contemplated, and this article (published after review, contribution and acquiescence by InventHelp® and their attorneys), has gone through multiple revisions and is the final piece of the settlement. The case is now over and all terms of the Settlement Agreement have been satisfactorily met by both parties. The parties are pleased that the lawsuit was resolved to their mutual satisfaction. Aside from the details contained in this article the terms of the settlement will remain confidential, although the lawsuit itself may be discussed.

Bringing Inventions to Life: The Magic of 3D Modeling

Another benefit provided by these drawings is that the image of the modeled parts or assembly is photo realistic and so it can be used in sales and market research literature before you have committed to manufacturing the parts. You can create catalog sheets and marketing literature. You can even use these drawings to share with your patent attorney or patent agent, who will likely find them extremely helpful when trying to figure out how your invention fits together and operates. In some cases you might even be able to use these drawings in a patent application, particularly a provisional patent application.

Exploratory Prototyping Advice from an Inventor

You have an idea, now what? Unless your idea is ridiculously simple, you will probably need to develop it. Almost no ideas come fully formed. They must evolve to approach their final form. Evolution takes place through a process of exploration whereby the inventor plays with the idea and learns. The best method for playing and learning is making a prototype. Making a physical model will often expose overlooked problems and opportunities for improvement. I cannot count the number of times that, in the construction of a prototype, I discovered obvious problems that I had missed. In addition, I discovered many ways to improve upon my idea.

Brand Identity: Protecting Against Negative Good Will

from the business perspective when you are building a trademark or trademark portfolio it is really the good will that will define the value of the trademark. But like most things in life there is a double edge sword. There is positive good will and negative good will. Negative good will sounds silly I know, but it relates not to the absence of good will, but negative feelings. So, for example, BP is in the process of developing enormous negative good will as a result of the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico.

Improvements: Learning with the Hitch Mounted Toilet Seat

By far, most inventions are improvements upon other known devices or solutions. In fact, whenever I teach patent law courses I tell students that in their career as a patent attorney they are unlikely to ever come across a pioneering invention (i.e., first of its kind, revolutionary invention). Even the great Thomas Edison, the most prolific inventor in US history, rarely came up with pioneering inventions. What Edison really had a knack for was taking something that someone else had come up with and making it extraordinarily better. So the first lesson here is that inventors can and most frequently are those who improve upon the work of others. The second lesson is that those inventors who focus on improvements can be quite successful indeed!

USPTO Expands Application Exchange to Reduce Backlog

This unique initiative seeks to reduce the backlog of patent applications by getting rid of those that are no longer important to applicants or are of marginal value. In exchange for giving up on certain applications and abandoning them another application will be advanced out of order to the front of the examination queue. Over and over again the message directly from Kappos and his top Lieutenants is that the backlog is costing America high paying jobs. This initiative picks up on the recently released PTO study that concluded that high-tech jobs are high paying jobs, innovators rely on patents and an overwhelming majority of Venture Capitalists say that they want to see issued patents before they invest in start-up companies. The expanded Exchange Program is yet another attempt to help give the Patent Office the tools necessary to unleash commercially viable innovation into the marketplace so that funding can be obtained, jobs created and innovation can play its role in economic recovery.

Patent Strategy: Laying the Foundation for Business Success

Patents provide a competitive advantage, and those sophisticated in business know enough to look for and exploit whatever competitive advantage exists. Patents are the 800 pound gorilla of competitive advantage, but realize if you are going to want and need significant sums of money from investors rarely does a single invention or patent command attention. No one wants to invest significant funds into a company that has a one-and-done approach to innovation. You need to understand the road is long. Take a lesson from Apple, Inc. Innovate and then churn your innovation for all its worth, re-purposing the technology, expanding into products and services, constantly push the envelope and milk the golden goose for all its worth!

Inventing Advice: How to Improve Upon a Product

There are always trade-offs in design work. Design features often conflict. For example, a big heavy vehicle is usually safer but the gas mileage is lower. But one of the things I have learned in my years as a product developer is that decisions have consequences. The biggest consequence of making a decision in product development is that the field of all subsequent decisions is contracted. That is, you reduce your list of options. It seems that ideas condense from a gas to a solid. They start out in a nebulous intangible form and condense into a solid physical entity. So bottom line, postpone any decisions on how to do things, initially. Brainstorming is the first order of business.