I recently spoke to 2 different startup entrepreneurs who explained to me that each had “a brand that needed protecting.” To each, this meant that they intended to focus their sales and marketing efforts on customers who fit image they saw as befitting their respective products. While I was intrigued by the products and the amount of work each had done to date, I am afraid to say that if these entrepreneurs stay with their present mindset that only certain customers are desirable, each will fail. Full stop. For one of these entrepreneurs whose product had already launched, brand protection meant that he was trying to dissuade “undesirable” customers: apparently truck drivers LOVED his product and it was flying off the shelves at C-stores in which the test launch was conducted. This entrepreneur perceived these sales as a huge problem because he saw his product as high end and “above” the
A recent article in TechCrunch indicates that entrepreneurs are less likely to file patents than in the past. Nonetheless, there remain countless patent lawyers and agents who will argue convincingly that an entrepreneur must obtain a patent in order to succeed and who will take their $5-15K to file a darned good patent application that won't provide them a bit of business value in the long run. Even worse, the resources expended in the patent process robs the entrepreneur of needed cash that will allow them to gain customers, and of their most valuable asset: time. But when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail--which is why those still in the business of writing patent applications will continue to make their case to entrepreneurs (and investors) who lack the domain expertise to
For the past several months, I have been at the helm of Evgentech, a startup company with game-changing battery charging methodology. Our technology was developed by young men who did not come from a traditional engineering background and, even then, their discovery was a serendipitous result of the co-founders’ recognition of a new principle stemming from investigations initially directed toward something wholly different from battery charging. Put simply, Evgentech’s technology would not have been found if anyone--outsider or not--would have been looking for it. We are now bringing to market the first truly new battery charging paradigm in over 100 years. To put things in perspective, with Evgentech's technology, you will be able to charge your batteries in a fraction of the time possible with existing battery charging methodologies, which means you can charge your iPhone to "full" in as little as 20 minutes, as compared to the about 3-5
This week, Facebook's trademark action against a small online teaching company has been all over the news. In summary, Facebook contends that TeachBook infringes its trademark rights in the "Facebook" name because, presumably, the "book" part of the name is associated in the minds of the relevant consumer public with the now well-known Facebook brand. Today, it was reported that Facebook is now trying to own the rights to the "face" part of its name. Most wouldn't be surprised that the word "book" is used as a part of the name of a multitude of products and services, which would make it appear that Facebook is using its resources to beat up on smaller companies. The natural response from the layperson is "why is Facebook being such a trademark bully?" But to someone with experience in IP strategy, the business reasons behind Facebook's actions are clear. From a legal perspective,
Open Innovation is risky. It's like letting a stranger in your house to see what valuables are there for the taking, and letting them keep the key to your secrets even after you finish working with them. For some, this perception of risk is enough to stop any attempts of Open Innovation in its tracks. Other corporations respond to the risk by "lawyering up," which, at a minimum, markedly increases the costs of proceeding or, at worst, causes the relationship to break down before any collaboration can occur. And I, as IP counsel to a number of corporations in my prior life, must admit to being responsible for shutting down Open Innovation due to my role as IP risk the person responsible for mitigating my clients' IP risk. After leaving the Friendly Confines of defined roles and responsibilities set out in my corporate and law firm life where it was clear
As my consulting practice becomes ever more busy, blogging must be relegated to times when client work is not pressing--that ever-elusive free time. But now that Summer is here, free time has been hard to come by--it's hard to write when at the pool with the kids or driving to Grandma's house--but I haven't been totally giving up my outreach. I recently participated in 2 radio interviews where I discussed the value of IP Strategy for entrepreneurs and inventors. Here I was on the 40 Year Old Business Virgin Radio Show with Dave Savage, Leader and President of The Inventors Association of Georgia and a person named Mohamed who has a really cool entrepreneurial story (sorry I didn't get his last name). The hosts of the show, Kile Lewis and Ted Jenkin, are irreverent business advisors, and you should enjoy the show. (I appear in the first half).
Regular readers of the IP Asset Maximizer Blog will know that I am a strong advocate of the use of IP analytics by venture capital investors, as well as others. Clearly, VC's need better ways to gauge the appropriateness of an investment when more than 50% of venture investment is a loss. My point of view is based on personal experience with various clients, as well as external review of a few investments that I thought signaled that a review of the IP landscape should have been conducted prior to completing the deal. So, I was glad to see my opinions backed up by real data. Specifically, my friends at IP Vision, a patent landscaping and data company originally out of MIT, conducted an extensive study of 9,000 venture backed firms. The study was done with investors, corporate executives and members of the faculty at MIT Sloan
Recently, I wrote a post on why I think that patent litigation is not a viable business model for inventors. Given a realistic deconstruction of the costs and possible damage awards, I concluded that, in most situations, it is not realistic for an inventor to presume that she will "hit the jackpot" by suing infringers and extracting settlement or damage awards. I obtained some pushback from this post, mostly from patent litigation lawyers, who contend that I am wrong in my view that patent litigation does not pay for inventors. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I respect the views of others, however, no one who objects to my (somewhat) negative view of patent litigation as a business model, has provided me with numbers to discount my economic analysis of patent litigation. This recent post from The Prior Art blog entitled "Revealed! How Much Money a