An Entrepreneur’s Patent Strategy Timeline

Patent Strategy Timeline

If you are an entrepreneur working on a big idea a patent strategy that follows your innovation process may be best. There is usually some trial and error in the innovation process where products get designed and revised. Early adopter feedback often changes product features and the business model can evolve over time.

Avoid jumping in too quickly and making commitments to high-priced attorneys and application filing fees. It is easy to run-up the cost and blow the budget if you dive-in and patent your first iteration. Early ideas are seldom refined final ideas and patenting too early can leave your final design excluded from your patent application and your product unprotected. Instead, let your patent strategy follow your product development cycle.

Here are five product development milestones to consider that will help inform your patent strategy timeline.

+ NEW IDEA | You just had a great idea. Now the first step is to get organized. Write down your idea, draw pictures, keep a running list of features as you think of them. Focus on how your idea is different and better than competing products?

+ BEFORE SHARING | Stop! Consider converting your notes, drawings, and other materials into a provisional patent application and get it filed before sharing your idea with external developers, potential customers, investors, and others. Once bitten, twice shy they say, right?

Provisional patent applications have lots of benefits including recording a filing date, granting a 12-month patent pending status, they are low cost, and they can serve as a stepping stone for future patent filings.

+ DESIGN DRAWINGS COMPLETE | When final drawings are done it is time to consider filing a design patent that protects how your product “looks”. Design patents can protect ornamental shapes, enclosures, ergonomic product designs, and much more. They are in the medium-cost range, less than a utility patent, and in many cases, your 3D CAD models can be converted into patent drawings to save drafting costs.

+ BEFORE YOUR PROVISIONAL EXPIRES | Remember provisional applications pend for 12 months from the filing date and then expire. Before that happens consider filing a utility patent that protects how your product “works”. Devices, systems, methods of use, software algorithms, compositions, and more can be patented. You can claim the earlier filing date benefit of your unexpired provisional patent application.

+ PRODUCT LAUNCH & BEYOND | As your product launch approaches and beyond, it is time to think about expanding your patent portfolio. Consider additional patent filings to protect current and future product variations.

 

Providing intellectual property services tailored to startups, entrepreneurs, and innovative companies is what we do.

+ Drafting & prosecuting patent applications
+ Patent more, pay less | Low-cost fixed-fee bootstrap model
+ Create an In-house patent creation capability
+ Company-wide IP program
+ Patent strategy that is connected with business development
+ Embedding with innovation & technical teams
+ Facilitated workshops for idea & invention capture
+ Identify competitive advantage opportunities through patent & macro trend landscapes
+ Mentoring & collaborating with your technical talent to create IP
+ On-call to discuss innovation & inventing for free

Replace your current by-the-hour-law-model with a predictable flat-fee-for-service model. 

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

Follow on LinkedIn.com/Company/Gr8BigIdeas/

#bootstrap #patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurship #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation #productdevelopment

Should I File For An International Patent?

GR8BigIdeas-World-Flags

Go big or go home can turn into go broke fast when you are talking about filing for international patents

 

When you talk patents often the question of should I file for an international patent comes up. US patent filings seem easy. We live here, it is one of the biggest markets in the world, it makes sense so we do it without much thinking otherwise. But these days, more than ever, commerce and business are global.

Taking a patent application and spreading it around the world should not be taken lightly. A country here and a country there instantly generates lots of filing and attorney fees that once switched-on can seemly grow uncontrollably.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and an inventor's emotional attachment to their invention can become the fog-of-war. That being said, from a bootstrap patenting perspective, price is what you pay and value is what you get so making every dollar spent on patenting count just makes good business sense.

 

So when should you consider filing for an international patent?

 

I offer three things to consider to help inform your decision making.

+ COST | It can become a budget-busting expensive fast, so you have to be choiceful. There has to be a compelling reason “why to”.

+ FREEDOM TO OPERATE | Know your US published or issued patent is used as prior art worldwide to prevent others from receiving a similar patent on your invention which in turn affords you measured freedom to operate including make, using, and selling your invention internationally without feeling you have to have an international patent.

+ COMMITMENT TO ENFORCE PATENT | First consider countries you plan on making, using, or selling your invention, then within that subset of countries consider filing in countries you are prepared to enforce your patent including bringing and funding a patent infringement lawsuit if necessary.

 

Almost everything in patent law is date deadline-driven, there is often a limited window of time to make foreign filing decisions based on the filing date of earlier filed applications. If after consideration you feel like foreign filing is the right choice don't miss the deadline for filing your foreign applications.   

 

Providing intellectual property services tailored to startups, entrepreneurs, and innovative companies is what we do.

+ Drafting & prosecuting patent applications
+ Patent more, pay less | Low-cost fixed-fee bootstrap model
+ Create an In-house patent creation capability
+ Company-wide IP program
+ Patent strategy that is connected with business development
+ Embedding with innovation & technical teams
+ Facilitated workshops for idea & invention capture
+ Identify competitive advantage opportunities through patent & macro trend landscapes
+ Mentoring & collaborating with your technical talent to create IP
+ On-call to discuss innovation & inventing for free

Replace your current by-the-hour-law-model with a predictable flat-fee-for-service model. 

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

Follow on LinkedIn.com/Company/Gr8BigIdeas/

#bootstrap #patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurship #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

How to Identify New White-Space Opportunities

GR8BigIdeas-Patent-Trend-Storyboard

Looking for your next big innovation?
Ready to disrupt your industry?
Grow your business with a strong patent strategy

When it comes to identifying new white-space opportunities in an industry I like storyboarding patent and macro-trends across a beginning-to-current timeline range. The storyboard reveals how patented technologies combine with macro-trends to shape the industry over time. Informed by the past, the present makes more sense and it is easy to see the white-space opportunities that are likely to come next.

Often done as a first step to an idea harvesting workshop, when I do this for a company, I like to use the storyboard process to pre-identify with the company's senior business leaders the 5 to 10 high priority areas in which to guide a workshop cohort to explore. It is not uncommon to harvest several dozen really strong ideas with such a storyboard approach and workshop format.

If you are looking for a way to anticipate your industry's next move, consider this storyboarding technique coupled with an idea harvesting workshop. Well facilitated, it can give you what you are looking for.

Providing intellectual property services tailored to startups, entrepreneurs, and innovative companies is what we do.

+ Drafting & prosecuting patent applications
+ Patent more, pay less | Low-cost fixed-fee bootstrap model
+ Create an In-house patent creation capability
+ Company-wide IP program
+ Patent strategy that is connected with business development
+ Embedding with innovation & technical teams
+ Facilitated workshops for idea & invention capture
+ Identify competitive advantage opportunities through patent & macro trend landscapes
+ Mentoring & collaborating with your technical talent to create IP
+ On-call to discuss innovation & inventing for free

Replace your current by-the-hour-law-model with a predictable flat-fee-for-service model. 

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

Follow on LinkedIn.com/Company/Gr8BigIdeas/

#bootstrap #patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurship #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

Start Your In-House Patent Program

Innovation Strategy

You need a patent strategy. Bootstrap patenting leverages fractional IP services that are flexibly designed right into your product development process.

Bringing the creation of patent applications closer to the innovation team gets them involved in the process which in turn makes better quality patent applications.

Mentoring innovators about the patent process, running workshops to harvest ideas, and teaching how to organize product drawings and write descriptions that can be used in patent applications empowers them to be more proactive in IP creation. In addition, when the inventors and innovation teams can produce accurate disclosures of their inventions the cost associated with preparing patent applications can be reduced. This collaboration also promotes capturing and protecting more early ideas and evolving ideas during the product development process.

Create IP faster from the spark of breakthrough ideas through product development and commercialization. A competitive advantage for your company can be the capability to rapidly identify, document, and protect ideas in a fast-paced product development environment.

Bootstrap Patenting In-House Program

    • + Drafting & Prosecuting Patent Applications
    • + Patent More, Pay Less | Low-Cost Fixed-Fee Bootstrap Model
    • + Establishing an In-House Patent Creation Capability
    • + Establishing & Running a Company-Wide IP Program
    • + Patent Strategy that is Connected with Business Development
    • + Embedding with Innovation & Technical Teams
    • + Facilitating Idea & Invention Capture Workshops
    • + Patent/Trend landscapes Identify Competitive Advantage Opportunities
    • + Mentoring & Collaborating with Technical Talent to Create IP
    • + On-call to Discuss Innovation & Inventing for Free

 

Focused on the project, working as long as it takes to get the job done, your Patent Counsel should tirelessly work as your innovation team does. For many, holding back patent protection of their greatest innovations is the by-the-hour-law-model. Open-ended in nature, costs often exceed budget quickly and at times can seem uncontrollable. Too costly to protect, good market-changing ideas can tragically get left behind.

Replace your current by-the-hour-law-model with a predictable flat-fee-for-service model.

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

 

#bootstrap #patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurs #entrepreneurship #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

Patent More, Pay Less

Innovation Roadmap

Focused on the project, working as long as it takes to get the job done, your Patent Counsel should tirelessly work as your innovation team does. For many, holding back patent protection of their greatest innovations is the by-the-hour-law-model. Open-ended in nature, costs often exceed budget quickly and at times can seem uncontrollable. Too costly to protect, good market-changing ideas can tragically get left behind.

Replace your current by-the-hour-law-model with a predictable flat-fee-for-service model. Freed of time-bound costs we can commit as much time and energy as it takes to patent protect your greatest innovations. Patent More, Pay Less!

 

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

Ways we can help you:
      • Drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent applications
      • Embedding with innovation teams to harvest, refine, and protect ideas
      • Identifying patentable ideas within startup technologies
      • Landscaping markets to identify new opportunities
      • Developing patent strategies for products and startup
      • Managing the patent creation process from concept to product launch
      • Searching ideas for prior art patents
      • Reviewing prior art patents with product development teams
      • Building IP for VC/PE portfolio companies

Learn more at www.Gr8BigIdeas.com

 

#patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

Is Your Invention Practical Or An Improved Coffin-Torpedo?

While the Patent Office awards patents for inventions that are novel and non-obvious, the Patent Office doesn't judge if an invention is practical. If the goal is to monetize your patent either by licensing it to others or protecting a commercialized product or service then the practicality of the invention matters.

Test to see how practical your idea is before spending time and money trying to patent it.

 

One way you might test the practicality of your invention is to gauge how complex it is to implement with a weighted survey questionnaire. Questions and question-weighting for your company will likely vary but here is a starter list of 10 questions, a total of 100 points. Organize the questions as yes or no, true or false, and add the weighted values to each question based on the answer. In this example, 100 is the best score and would tend to correlate with a more practical solution that is less complex to implement.

  1. Yes=5 | Has the concept been tested with consumers?
  2. Yes=5 | Has there been a successful pilot?
  3. Yes=10 | From a patent infringement perspective, do you have the freedom to operate?
  4. Yes=15 | Is it legal under current laws in all geographies of market interest?
  5. No=15 | Is there a risk of injury to people, animals, property, or the environment?
  6. Yes=10 | Has all regulatory requirements been achieved and regulatory concerns been resolved?
  7. No=10 | Does it require significant capital investment or incur a high labor cost to produce?
  8. No=10 | Is inventory a high-cost burden, a long lead-time item, or is shipping or warehousing an undue cost or challenge?
  9. No=10 | Does it require a special factory or manufacturing process?
  10. No=10 | Does it require licenses, permits, skilled, or certified people to manufacture, distribute, sell, install, or service?

Let's try it out. Take, for example, the problem of grave robbing in the 1880s. A quick Google search reveals it was a real problem that entrepreneurs were trying to solve. Articles suggest, grave robbers were called "Resurrectionists" and targeted freshly dug graves with the motivations of supplying fresh cadavers to a growing number of medical schools where anatomy was a priority.

Entrepreneur Philip K. Clover was working on the challenge and in 1878 he was awarded Patent #208,672 for an improvement in coffin-torpedos. As he describes it "...a means which shall prevent the unauthorized resurrection of dead bodies...my invention consists of a peculiarly-constructed torpedo, adapted to be readily secured to the coffin...in a manner that any attempt to remove the body after burial will cause the discharge of the cartridge in the torpedo and injury or death of the desecrator of the grave."

The fact that he refers to this as an "improved" coffin-torpedo suggests there may have been others before him. That thought by itself is frightening. From a practicality test perspective, I am going to say maybe the concept was tested with consumers (+5), perhaps there was a pilot (+5), and the patent gives him the freedom to operate (+10). So maybe a score of 20/100 and I feel safe in saying with that low score that there is really no practicality in hooking torpedos to coffins with the intent of harm people.

The example does illustrate how you can quickly assess your idea or invention to gauge the practicality and the complexity to implement before making a big investment in trying to patent or commercialize a solution. An interesting twist is to answer the questions looking through the eyes of different partners or potential licensees. What might be hard and a low score for you might be an easy execution for a larger company. That insight might sway you into patenting and licensing instead of trying to commercialize it yourself.

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

Ways we can help you:
      • Drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent applications
      • Embedding with innovation teams to harvest, refine, and protect ideas
      • Identifying patentable ideas within startup technologies
      • Landscaping markets to identify new opportunities
      • Developing patent strategies for products and startup
      • Managing the patent creation process from concept to product launch
      • Searching ideas for prior art patents
      • Reviewing prior art patents with product development teams
      • Building IP for VC/PE portfolio companies

Learn more at www.Gr8BigIdeas.com

 

#patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

Patenting And Product-Market-Fit

US912152

If there is a fire in a building you exit through the fire escape. The only problem, in the early 1900s, the fire escapes as we know them today didn't exist in most buildings and entrepreneurs were working hard on solutions.

One such inventor was Pasquale Nigro who in 1909 patented a fire escape, Patent #912,152. Pasquale's fire escape was a pair of escape-wings that in his own words from his patent "...the frame is placed on the wearer's shoulders...the wearer engages the loops with his hands and is prepared to leap [from a building], the air imprisoned beneath the fabric material serving to up-hold the wearer and break the force of his fall..." Terrifying at best, serious injury for sure, deadly likely, leaping from a building with wings seems like an unlikely product-market-fit type of solution. I imagine testing of the prototype was short and conclusively exposed the product weaknesses.

So why do inventors incur the expense of patenting before you know if there is a market for their product?

 

The short answer is timing. Inventors tend to want to protect their ideas as early as possible. With many worries, inventors are often concerned about others patenting their idea and business partners stealing their idea.

Maybe the better question to ask might be how can the cost of patenting be deferred until I know I have a good product-market-fit. The answer to this question is a patent strategy that might include:

  1. Bootstrap patent and file a provisional patent. If your an inventor that is willing to provide a good first draft description of your idea it can be polished and filled on a shoestring budget for a couple of hundred dollars, saving your patenting budget for later. The provisional patent records the filing date and afford 12 months of patent pending status.
  2. Build and test a prototype and assess product-market-fit during the year of provisional patent protection.
  3. Use your patenting budget wisely to protect your product. At a medium cost, convert your computer-aided design (CAD) figures into a design patent to protect 'how your product looks' and/or convert your provisional patent work into a non-provisional patent application at a higher cost that protects 'how your product works'.

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

Ways we can help you:
      • Drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent applications
      • Embedding with innovation teams to harvest, refine, and protect ideas
      • Identifying patentable ideas within startup technologies
      • Landscaping markets to identify new opportunities
      • Developing patent strategies for products and startup
      • Managing the patent creation process from concept to product launch
      • Searching ideas for prior art patents
      • Reviewing prior art patents with product development teams
      • Building IP for VC/PE portfolio companies

Learn more at www.Gr8BigIdeas.com

 

#patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

Who Invented First In Your Family?

US639404_figure

The first person in my family tree to get a patent was Herman Kolls in 1899. Patent number 639,404, he invented a machine for shaking Babcock milk test bottles. The Babcock bottle was a clear glass flask with a long graduated neck. The bottle and the test were developed by Stephen Babcock in 1890 as a simple but accurate way to determine the fat content of milk.

Herman describes his invention this way "When the wheel 'H' is revolved, the milk and acid in the test-bottle are shaken by the reciprocating clamp in a very efficient manner, and the test-bottles can be very quickly inserted in the clamp and removed from it." It is so great to be able to read his own words talking about his invention. The patent says Herman was from McCune, Kansas so maybe his entrepreneurial inspiration was solving a real problem he had on his dairy farm. We can only wonder.

I looked up on Google Maps McCune and found it is located about 150 miles south of Kansas City. Wikipedia says it was laid out in 1879, got a post office in 1878, and was incorporated into a city in 1881. The population in 2010 was reported to be 405 people. From Herman's patent date of 1899 it looks like he was there at the beginning of it all, a founding member so to speak.

I checked the list of historical events for 1899 and found the following:

  • On January 3rd the first known use of the word "automobile", appeared in an editorial in The New York Times. On May 20th the first speeding infraction happened by a New York cabbie driving an electric car - 12mph down Lexington Street, and on May 24th the first auto repair shop opened in Boston.
  • "Aspirin" (acetylsalicylic acid) was patented by Felix Hoffmann at German company Bayer. The Rubber heel for boots or shoes was patented by American Humphrey O'Sullivan. J S Thurman patented the motor-driven vacuum cleaner, and Issac R. Johnson patented the bicycle frame.

 

It is awesome to look back and imagine what being an entrepreneur was like so long ago. I'm thankful Herman took the initiative to get a patent on his idea so that 120 plus years later I could learn something new about my family tree.

So who invented first in your family?

Maybe it's time for you to patent your ideas so your future ancestors can learn something about you.

Schedule Time To Discuss Your Needs

Ways we can help you:
      • Drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent applications
      • Embedding with innovation teams to harvest, refine, and protect ideas
      • Identifying patentable ideas within startup technologies
      • Landscaping markets to identify new opportunities
      • Developing patent strategies for products and startup
      • Managing the patent creation process from concept to product launch
      • Searching ideas for prior art patents
      • Reviewing prior art patents with product development teams
      • Building IP for VC/PE portfolio companies

Learn more at www.Gr8BigIdeas.com

 

#patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

Too Many Ideas – Too Little Budget

stuck in the mud

When a flood of ideas has your innovation program feeling stuck in the mud with more ideas than budget to work on them it might be time to rethink your approach. While not every idea can be built, every idea in your company can be recorded and the employee inventors recognized.

An idea bank in combination with a provisional patent program gives a company and its employees a clear pathway for harvesting, evaluating, and inexpensively protecting ideas. It is also a great way to recognize your employee inventors. With ideas identified and protected the company now has the time to develop plans and prioritize what ideas to build, what patents to license, and what to pass on.

Setting up a program is easy and drives employee engagement. Here are three key steps:

  1. An invention disclosure form lets employees record their ideas. Organizing the forms in a database creates an idea bank. An idea review team evaluates the entries in the idea bank and decides which ideas are worth protecting.
  2. For ideas worth protecting, the invention disclosure form serves as the basis of a provisional patent application. A good description of an idea is all that is needed. A provisional patent records an invention date and grants a patent pending status for 12 months. Done right, a provisional patent can be prepared and filed on the cheap, stretching your budget, patenting more, and paying less.
  3. Provisional patents get evaluated during the pending year by the idea team, those that protect company products or can be licensed get converted into non-provisional patent applications, the kind that gets examined and issue as patents.

So, what is keeping you from setting up a program for your company?

 

Ways we can help you:
      • Drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent applications
      • Embedding with innovation teams to harvest, refine, and protect ideas
      • Identifying patentable ideas within startup technologies
      • Landscaping markets to identify new opportunities
      • Developing patent strategies for products and startup
      • Managing the patent creation process from concept to product launch
      • Searching ideas for prior art patents
      • Reviewing prior art patents with product development teams
      • Building IP for VC/PE portfolio companies

Learn more at www.Gr8BigIdeas.com

 

#patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation

Your Next Big Idea Is In The Building

design-team-pic

One of the observations I have made, from my work with corporates, startups, and entrepreneurs, is how much employees like to be part of an ideation workshop and write down their ideas on post-it notes or flip-charts. They end up creating even bigger and better ideas when they know there is a good chance it will be considered for a patent application.

Once the raw ideas are captured the work begins. There is something inspirational in watching employees become inventors and refine their ideas during the patent drafting process. The passion, details, features, possibilities, everything begins to evolve as the inventors unravel their thoughts and share details that give shape and vibrancy to a new invention.

Don't underestimate how many great ideas are in the heads of your employees just waiting for an opportunity to be discovered and shared.

For an entrepreneur (and we are all entrepreneurs at heart), I believe ideation is truly therapeutic. Where just before there seemed no path forward, suddenly there are new products, business models, and a renewed energy that drives business development. For a company, it is one of the best opportunity areas to create a competitive advantage and build employee engagement.

I'd like to offer three ways to energize your innovation program, harvest new ideas to solve business needs, increase your competitive advantage, and drive employee engagement.

    • Idea Capture Workshops | A great way to stoke the innovation fire and engage your company in a new conversation about innovation is to conduct an idea harvesting workshop. A well-facilitated workshop can start with a business need and collaboratively journey with a group of employees to explore and evolve solutions that meet the need.
    • Patent Programs | While workshops are great at generating ideas, there needs to be a clear pathway to convert the ideas into value for the company. Too often workshops are held, ideas generated, and then nothing else really happens. While a company can't develop every harvested idea, a bootstrap patenting program can inexpensively refine the raw ideas into patentably ownable concepts that help the company create a long term competitive advantage.
    • Inventor Recognition | A Human Resource colleague once told me, recognition is the best way to build employee engagement. I believe it. Everyone has ideas and wants to be heard, they just need a comfortable forum, an opportunity to share, and a little recognition for the effort. Workshops are a great forum for sharing and a bootstrap patent program can capture the value created from the workshop. Now make sure your innovation program recognizes the employees that become inventors.

 

Ways we can help you:
      • Drafting, filing, and prosecuting patent applications
      • Embedding with innovation teams to harvest, refine, and protect ideas
      • Identifying patentable ideas within startup technologies
      • Landscaping markets to identify new opportunities
      • Developing patent strategies for products and startup
      • Managing the patent creation process from concept to product launch
      • Searching ideas for prior art patents
      • Reviewing prior art patents with product development teams
      • Building IP for VC/PE portfolio companies

Learn more at www.Gr8BigIdeas.com

 

#patents #patentengineering #startups #entrepreneurs #breakthrough #intellectualproperty #corporateinnovation #innovation