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Posts Tagged: "inventions"

Moving from Idea to Patent: When Do You Have an Invention?

When you are moving from idea to invention to patent, regardless of how or why you find yourself stuck in the idea phase, the first order of business to get the ball rolling. You need momentum. In order to get that ball rolling what you need is a strategy to help you move past the idea and learn to describe your idea with enough specifics so that it no longer is what the law would call a merely an idea.  In a nutshell, if you can describe your idea with enough detail you don’t have an idea, what you have is an invention, or at least the makings of an invention. Here are 7 concrete steps you can take to help you get from your idea, to an invention worth patenting.

Necessity is the Father of Invention

A lot has been said about mom inventors who came up with ideas to solve problems that revolved around parenting, but there are plenty of hands-on dads who have come up with their own solutions to problems that involve their kids. Here are three examples of dad inventors who have done just that.

Inventions Make a Standard Competitive

When a standard faces competition, it is essential to be the first on the market with products and to establish the highest market share. The network effect will make it increasingly difficult for competing standards to get a foothold. Two competing standards will, therefore, be under pressure to gain market share in the early stages of adoption by getting to market first, with superior performance, and with the lowest price. In view of the network effect, getting to market first is usually the highest priority. But in the early stages of adoption, being a little bit later with superior performance is still viable.

After Alice: Is New Legislation Needed? Before Alice: Was there a Precedent?

the Courts have found it difficult to use the Mayo two-part test in the examination of a patent’s validity thus creating great uncertainty… One should not confuse the uncertainty of the complex U.S. patent system with the clarity of the Alice decision. There is no reason to believe any new legislation will provide any improvement in deciding what should, and what should not, be patentable.

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. That is why the most valuable inventions will have applicability in a variety of fields, and will have a variety of different implementations, alternatives and variations.

Inventor Spotlight – Alexei Novitzky, Inventor of the Skatecase

Avid skateboarder Alexei Novitzky was at the festival to display his unique invention. As a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering program at USF, Alexei wanted to solve his problem of needing to carry around a backpack in addition to his skateboard.  For many students bicycles or scooters are an effective and efficient way to travel from class to class, especially when one is short on time or running late.  But Alexei, like many others, chose to ride a skateboard.  He didn’t like the idea of having to wear a backpack or having to carry items in his pockets, so he decided to combine the two items he needed, a skate board and backpack, into one item and his invention, the Skatecase, was born.

Getting Your Invention to Market: Licensing vs. Manufacturing

Of course, whether you are going to pursue licensing or manufacturing, for the first lesson is to realize that there are no tricks to invention marketing. It just takes work. Of course, you need to first determine what it is that you want to accomplish with your invention, which should be covered in some form of patent pending prior to beginning commercialization efforts. But once you have determined which path to follow you just need to focus your efforts and attention to identifying opportunities, pursuing them and not taking no for an answer. Certainly, there may be a time that you will have to retreat and move on, but those who succeed by and large share the same quality of determination. Determination is critical.

Invention to Patent: Pitfalls, Perils and Process

To review, the law recognizes that with many, if not most, inventions there will be three steps to the invention process. The idea comes first, followed by the game plan, followed by the reduction to practice. When dealing with some inventions the idea, game plan and reduction happen rapidly. With other inventions there is some time between these steps. As you go along the way your invention will take shape and become more tangible and identifiable. As that happens you very well may have an invention that could be patented. At some point you will need to do a patent search. I am a fan of inventors doing their own preliminary searches, not because you are likely to find the best prior art but rather to educate yourself and learn. The more you understand the better inventor you will become.

Starting the Patent Process on a Limited Budget

It is possible to succeed even starting with a limited budget, but you really do need to plan ahead and develop a strategy that makes sense within your resources and one that doesn’t invest unnecessarily or recklessly. This conserves resources in a responsible way, while still laying the ground work for obtaining the benefits and protections offered by the patent laws. The nightmare scenario you need to avoid is spending to much on any one invention that winds up going nowhere. If this happens you not only lose what you invested, but you also potentially lose valuable funds that could be used to pursue the next great idea you have. Over the years as I have worked with inventors and musicians what I have learned is that creative people are rarely, if ever, only going to create once.

InventionHome Seeks Inventors to Pitch DRTV Companies

InventionHome will be hosting the DRTV Product Summit, a one-day event on October 24, 2013, at Robert Morris University that will give everyday inventors the opportunity to pitch their products to six (6) leading “As Seen On TV” companies in one location. Twenty-four (24) inventors will be selected from all of the submissions received and invited to attend the event. Submissions are due by September 30, 2013. The selected inventors will receive 10-minute private pitch sessions with each of the six companies in attendance (60 total minutes). Essentially, this is the inventor/licensee equivalent of speed-dating.

Does the term “Invention” in the Specification Limit the Claims?

There are some that will tell you that the use of the term “invention” or “present invention” in the specification will limit the claims. This misguided belief suggests that merely using the word “invention” or the phrase “present invention” in the specification creates a problem for the claims. I have heard this numerous times over the years. Every time I hear this it is like fingers on a chalkboard.

An Overview of the U.S. Patent Process

For example, does a hair dryer with integrated radio, beer bottle opener, shaving cream dispenser that floats sound marketable? Perhaps as a gag gift maybe, but the addition of random features for the sake of obtaining a patent is not usually wise. I’ve seen terribly broad disclosures filed for an inventor with one extraordinarily specific embodiment. Right away I can tell what is happening. The patent attorney (or patent agent) is drafting the disclosure so that at least one claim, no matter how narrow, can be obtained. Unfortunately, it does not typically make sense to layer on specifics unless those specifics contribute to marketability, and in most cases layer after layer of detailed specifics only makes the claim narrow and less valuable. So if you are going to try and get around prior art to obtain a patent make sure the specifics added will provide an advantage.

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.

Patent Law Fun & Lessons: What Dilbert Teaches About Inventing

As you can see from the first cartoon in the series, the creator of a project has left the company and his unfinished project is being passed on to the hapless Dilbert. Scott Adams, through Dilbert, teaches us not only that no one should ever trust Dilbert, but also about the importance of documenting your invention. I then take this opportunity to also opinion about the impending first to invent changes to US patent laws. What fun!

Falling Prey to Invention Promotion Scams

About a week ago I received a fairly typical e-mail from an individual who was inquiring about whether I could help provide certain services.  As you can probably imagine, I get inquiries from people looking for all different kinds of legal services, and I also get a lot of e-mails from those who have great ideas and want to sell…