Posts Tagged ‘Intellectual Property’

Business Intelligence in a Wiki World!

by Linda Williams on March 28, 2011

The role of the Business Intelligence (BI) function within the organization has become critical to thriving in today’s evolving business environment.   The ultimate purpose of Business Intelligence is to provide management with analytical insights that can be used to improve business performance and competitive position. Analytics provided by the BI department while intended to focus the organization on their core operations and progress toward aligning to their strategic objectives, increasingly can be the impetus for transformational change.

A review of top companies in their industries clearly shows that they all mange their performance using some sort of BI techniques.   The standard tools of BI are based upon gathering actionable metrics that can be used to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their operations. This data is analyzed and compiled into reports including dashboards, scorecards, and predictive models. As an added service in  more evolved companies, the BI team generally provides consulting on metrics to propose ways to help make better decisions about operations and suggest improvement initiatives.

Often the development of these insights is closely guarded within the company to ensure at least a temporary advantage in the marketplace. The intent is that analytical capabilities will provide them the edge of a first mover as they develop new markets or approaches for their business.

The Problem

This advantage does not last for long in today’s connected world.

The basic analytical tools of BI however are well known in the public domain. Implementing basic BI has become not a luxury but a standard cost of doing business. Books such as Competing on Analytics give many examples of the types of analytics that can be collected and analyzed. There is also a tremendous amount of open information on BI and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on the web. Companies can use this information to identify enhancements to their current analysis through their own review of wikis and blogs and even competitors websites.

The Dilemma

The dilemma of what to hold close and what to open up is increasingly becoming a key decision point in a BI project’s lifecycle. The discussions weigh the pros and cons of when it is best to foster creativity through opening up their research to collaboration and when Intellectual Property (IP) should be preserved.  Often the decisions are not clear cut and there may be lively discussions between the BI team and the executive team around what is the best approach for this situation. At the heart of these discussions is whether competitive advantage would be better served by keeping their intent secret, for the short term, or whether in the interest of speed and expertise it would be better to tap into the wiki community.


The overall purpose of Wikis is to provide a place to share content, ideas, links, and collaborate on information, technical documentation, or the development of new ideas. The Wiki world in contrast to the traditional BI world thrives on openness and transparency. Some of the key advantages of the wiki approach are:

  1. The potential to leverage the talents within the wider community;
  2. A reduction in the time to innovation; and
  3. The ability to incorporate social purposes that may go beyond the core competency of the company. An example is using external assistance in developing approaches to help the organization move into to being “green”.

Clearly there are compelling advantages to be gained by developing analytic dimensions with the help of the larger wiki community. Precedents for using this approach are also becoming more common. Some well-known examples of advances made by opening up IP include: the development of Linux; Netflix’s contest to develop an algorithm for customer preferences; and Google’s opening up application development for the Android. In each case the advantages of using the wiki world to enhance what may have been considered to be IP was outweighed by the benefits of collaboration.

Final Thoughts…

Secrecy in all areas of analytical review is no longer possible or even preferable in a world that is increasingly transparent with the pervasive use of social media by today’s employees who are mobile, connected, and less likely than previous generations to remain in one job for long periods. There are significant advantages to a business in tapping into the networked intelligence to speed up problem solving or make breakthroughs. These benefits may in some cases outweigh the potential risk of the competition using the same information or approach. The final decision however cannot be rote but must rest with the complexity of the use and the expertise of internal resources to meet that need.

Information: The Most Precious Thing Your Company Has

by Robert Driscoll on February 4, 2010

Every day our lives get more and more connected online which has made our lives easier, but at the same time, has put us more at risk as more of our sensitive information is stored online.  With IPv6 right around the corner, which will be able to support an almost infinite number of IP addresses, we will only be more connected, and therefore, more at risk.

On a personal basis, I’m the first to admit that online services such as banking, travel and email, to name a few, have made our lives easier.  On a professional basis, as businesses push more services online to expand their marketplace, conversely, they are also making themselves more susceptible to data breaches from hackers.  Hosting providers are pushing the envelope by trying to get their customers to accept cloud services: email, applications and storage to name a few.  Some of these providers such as Google and Amazon have been successful in selling their cloud based services to small business and have now started making headway in to the enterprise segment of the marketplace.  Their services also allow you to access your information anywhere you have web access.  Their services are great for non-core, non-critical applications that won’t impact your business in the event their service goes down and you are unable to access your applications or data. 

While every company is talking about cloud services, not many are acting on it.  According to a white paper published by Gartner called Hype Cycles of Emerging Technologies, 2009, the most hyped technology was cloud computing. 

Why is this technology “hyped” and not being accepted with open arms?  The hack against Googles intellectual property last month should give you a pretty good idea as to why cloud services are still vulnerable. 

If you decide to move in to cloud services, don’t push all of your applications online.  Start slow.  Test a non-critical application first, or store non-critical data in the cloud that will help off-load space on your storage platform.  If you lose the application or the data, you’ll probably be upset over this mishap, but your life and the business will move on.  From there, look at moving parts of your development environment online and start testing other applications to see how they perform online and how well you can secure the data.  When testing these applications in the cloud, always be skeptical of who will access your data and how.  Don’t move at the pace your providers want you to move at.  Move at the pace that you’re comfortable with and that will protect your intellectual property and your company’s (and customers) sensitive information.

In a Newsweek article recently published by Daniel Lyons called “Where Secrets Aren’t Safe”, he mentions, “Information is not at all like electricity.  Electricity is a cheap, dumb commodity.  Nobody wants to steal your electricity, and even if someone did, who cares?  Information, on the other hand, may be the most precious thing your company has.”

Learning and Timing

by Thomas Frasher on December 4, 2009

long_range_targetMy article this week is about timing. There is an old saying “Experience is what you get, right after you needed it”.

There are things that you can time, the coffee maker, the bus schedule and so forth. There are many more things that you cannot time and attempting to time them is a mistake.

For Example: timing the stock market, similar to gambling in Las Vegas, where everyone knows the game is rigged and plays anyway. Attempting to time the stock market will eventually get you if you are playing alone. That’s why successful stock brokers get paid no matter the outcome of your transaction with them.

Timing certain types of projects is also a mistake. I work in the large scale software industry and if a project is an addition to an existing product, timing makes sense and indeed is necessary. If, on the other hand, we are building something completely new to the world, we cannot time it, and we are almost never able to resist the urge.

For things that are new to the world, much must be learned, therefor the time required is the time needed to acquire the knowledge to complete the project; be that brain surgery or a new software product. The knowledge and the skill must be acquired over time, a practice must be developed that retains that skill and then the project can be timed. Usually at that point you have completed at least the first pass and are ready to move on. Only after you have the experience can you time the next iteration, and even then, if you are doing something that is new to you, your team or the world, you need to take the time to learn.

I’ve said is almost all of my articles, you will not get where you are going alone, you need help. Help can come in many forms: parents, friends, acquaintances, government structures, business structures, etc. The number one thing that, as business people, we can find to help us are teachers. Find someone better at what you do than you are and learn from them. Learn everything you can, from everyone you can. Be discriminating in your teachers though, find the best, if you find someone better, switch. Move fast and learn to learn fast.

With learning comes obligation. As I said before, you need to learn from great teachers, you must have something to offer them in return like money, time, etc. In return you must spend some of your human capital to learn: time, lost opportunity, money etc. Education comes with a price, you must pay it. When you stop learning you are finished.

Another point about the obligation of learning; you must teach. There is a Buddhist maxim “To know and to not do is to not know”. Teaching cements your knowledge, it is a mechanism of our minds that when we teach we learn as well, the subject we are teaching. So to learn, you must teach, find a student, and be a student.

Go find something new to learn! Stretch your mind and teach someone else something new! Do it for yourself.

IP Strategy – Part III – Managing

by Thomas Frasher on October 23, 2009

IP Strategy Part IIIn my previous article I wrote that you need to actively manage your IP Strategy. This article is about how to build that practice.

OK, let’s say that you have created an IP Strategy document and you know what direction your company is going with the development of the company intellectual property. You have a clear concise roadmap that defines the directions and more importantly what areas you are going to stay away from.

Feels pretty good doesn’t it?

And then….the world changes.

Some markets become obsolete, a new product comes out that makes the original problem evaporate, a new service is available that prevents the cause for your product from existing, your market is gone. There is an old term for this: “Sitting On Your Laurels” and it doesn’t work anymore, there is ample evidence that it never worked. The world always changes, as small business owners we all know that and experience it every day. Our marketplace may be less conscious of the facticity of change (note to the unions, and people that want things to return to the same way they were).

How do you manage your IP in the light of these changes?

1. You must be paying attention to you market as if you were your own customer. What would make my need for this product go away? What would make this product better? What do I find annoying about this product or service? Is it hard to use? All of these are reason’s to abandon your product.

2. Are you in a market that is known for a lot of change? (Real Estate, Technology, Investments, etc.) If your business in in a volatile market with lots of change you have additional work to maintain your position in the market place, and even more work to get ahead in that market place. The good news? These markets have a great deal of energy and can support many new products, services and changes that other more established and stolid markets cannot.

3. Is your market saturated with competition? Additionally what is the complexion of that competition, are they bigger, smaller, better funded? Bigger doesn’t always mean better, large companies have more resources, but they are, in general, slower to recognize new opportunities and slower to exploit or even protect those opportunities. Smaller companies are, in general, much more nimble and innovative, however they can get starved for resources and need to scale back their innovation (remember protecting you IP is costly)

All of the above points need to be taken into account when working on your strategy. As a rule of thumb: when you first start working with your IP Strategy you need to take a look once a week, to make sure you are on course.

As you gain familiarity with your market, your customers, their customers and your products and services you will be able to stretch this time out. In the current climate of chaos and rapid change, you need to re-visit your strategy at least once a month. And remember: this is your document, you can change it at will. Indeed, if something is not working, rather than being constrained by it, use it as a tool to make purposeful changes to get back on track.

In my last article I said to create consequences and rewards for working on the IP Strategy. The consequences will manifest themselves for you if you don’t create them, so you must know what they are. The very survival of your company is in the balance.

The great benefit of creating your strategy is that you will have a clear path, that goes where YOU want it to go, and you can change it, powerfully, purposefully and with predictable results.

Get Started!!

IP Strategy – Part II

by Thomas Frasher on October 16, 2009

IP Strategy Part IIIn the last article we discussed the need to create a cohesive IP strategy, in this article I’ll discuss the first step in creating your strategy.
Like every article I’ve written on this topic, I’ll remind you that you need help, and you need the best help you can get.

Strategy Creation:
A few guidelines to help things along:
1. Be clear on why you are creating an IP strategy. All reasons are valid, some will work better than others. For example: if your goal in creating an IP strategy is to to tell all of your friends how many patents you have; you may want to think a bit more deeply about what you will do with those assets (make no mistake they are assets if treated right) and how much you are planning on spending to create them. On the other hand if you plan to exploit what you have invented, create a new business, and bring new products to the marketplace, then you are thinking in the right direction for strategy development.
2. Determine the direction you want your IP portfolio to grow into, find your market landscape. For instance; if you are making wire coat hangers and you suddenly come up with a new idea to make them cheaper, faster or in some other way better for the same cost, that’s a great invention in your current market landscape. If, on the other hand you make coat hangers and you come up with a great new telescope design, you may want to think about the new invention within the direction of your market landscape and the way you prosecute that innovation in the marketplace. Is it a different marketplace? The direction component of your strategy helps to keep costs under control. Costs can include nearly everything you can think of, from time spent thinking about the innovation, to the actual patent write up and filing fees, and everything in between.
3. Determine what areas you are NOT going to explore, such as a wire coat hanger manufacturer working on auto parts cleaning machines. It doesn’t matter what limits you put in place but you must at least think about them, and draw limits that suit your situation and remember they are your limits, you can change them any time you wish.
4. Determine when you will start, never when you will stop, and start. Create consequences for not starting, and rewards for getting going. Innovation should never stop, it must be continuous if you are to be successful in the long term.
This all sounds like a lot of work and, that said, it’s not a trivial task. However, as humans, we are what we practice, and our practices define us. Therefore you need to develop a practice of creativity, and a practice of managing your strategy.

So, having read all the above; It’s time to get moving!

IP Strategy – Getting Started

by Thomas Frasher on October 2, 2009

Intellectual Property Strategy

This article is a three part article on the need for a cohesive strategy for creating, developing, protecting and managing your companies intellectual property.

In previous articles I illustrated the ways to protect your intellectual property in the United States by availing yourself to the US Patent and Trademark Office. These articles were the beginning of the process. In this first part of a three part series I will cover the importance of creating a comprehensive Intellectual Property Strategy that will protect your market and your investment. As I have said many times before you need help to do this! And, you need the best help you can get! That said again, lets dive in!

Review of Concepts:

Let’s first review some basics:

1. What is a patent? A patent is a legal monopoly granted by the government to exploit your intellectual property for a specified time. A patent can cover a device, a process or any composition of matter created by a human being. It must
be novel and non-obvious and it cannot have already been rejected.

2. Types of patents: There are three types of patents in the US: Utility, Design and Plant. Utility patents cover most things that have function, design patents cover the outward appearance and plant patents cover asexually
reproduced plants. In the interest of full disclosure I have never worked on an Plant patent, nor do I know anyone that has, if that is your forte’ good luck and you are on your own.

3. What is a copyright?  A copyright is a law or laws that gives you ownership of the things your create. These are generally creative works including but not limited to: books, pictures, poetry, paintings, photographs and the like. The copyright gives you the right to reproduce the creation, distribute, create derivatives, perform or otherwise display publicly the work you have created.

4. What is a Trademark? A trademark is a type of intellectual property comprised of a distinctive symbol, sign or indicator used by an individual, business or other legal entity to help the consumers of the product or service
distinguish between themselves and others.

Need for a IP Strategy:

A cohesive IP strategy provides several things all are protective.

1. A strategy provides the direction for new development

2. A strategy provides the boundaries where your innovation can flourish without the intellectual and more importantly financial distractions can be reigned in.

3. A strategy defines where you specifically are going and also importantly where you are not going.

All these together save your business cash, time and effort while protecting your marketplace, your brand and your time.

Getting Started:

The get started developing any strategy you must first know your ultimate goal, until this is achieved you are working only with tactics, working without purpose; this is especially true when working with Intellectual Property, a mis-designed strategy will lead to wasted effort, resources and lost time.

Strategy must also be discerned from tactics, a distinction that many fail to understand. Strategy is the plan of actions, practices, roles and situations that must be produced to reach the ultimate goal. Tactics are the individual actions, practices, roles and situations that are performed in support of the Strategy to reach the ultimate goal, tactics may include interim goals along the way. That said the first step is to decide on your ultimate goal. Be specific; remember you are designing the future, so it’s big stuff you are doing here. With IP tactics include finding a good IP attorney, organizing your portfolio, determining your product roadmap, writing disclosures, working with developers, working with clerks and writing. All of the above items require you to get help.

Do It!

Step 1. Design your Ultimate Goal (i.e. Create A IP Portfolio for protecting and exploiting …..)

Step 2. List all the tactics needed to achieve that goal. (i.e. contact IP attorney, setup meetings, write disclosure, ….)

Spend quality time on Step 1, this is the most important step. The more clearly you define the strategy the more you will be able to see if your tactics are betraying your intention and you can correct to maintain alignment of your tactics to your ultimate goal.

Protecting Your Inventions Before You Patent

by Thomas Frasher on September 25, 2009

Documenting Inventions
In my last article is wrote that a laboratory notebook is an effective method for ensuring that you protect your intellectual property during development. This article comprises guidelines to help protect the integrity of the contents of your notebooks such that the contents are without reproach.

In patent law it is generally the first to conceive of an idea that is awarded the patent, a properly kept notebook is often the first documented evidence of a concept, development or process.

Generally speaking it is adequate to have a small drawing and some descriptive text to document a concept. The lab notebook aids with extending that concept in a protective manner.


1. Take your notes contemporaneously with your development, as close to the time of your research or lab work as possible.

2. Remember that you are working to make sure that someone with your skill level can recreate what you’ve done, solely from the notes in the notebook.

3. Very few people organize their notebooks efficiently, with the possible legal outcome in mind. Remember: the lab notebook is your first line of defense.

4. If you need to have a blank page for some reason, draw a diagonal line and write “Void” on the line, initial and date the line. It is best however to avoid blank pages.

5. VERY IMPORTANT: IF you make a mistake, do not scribble over it, draw single line through the error and initial and date the line. you can do this for large areas by lining through at a diagonal and, again initialing and dating the line. At no time is it acceptable to remove any part of or all of a page. This will call into question the contents of the notebook as a whole.

6. When spanning multiple pages use “(Continued)” or “(Cont)” at the top of the page to denote a continuation from the previous page. If you are continuing something from an earlier page use “(Continued from page #)” or “(Cont from #)”.

7. Avoid fragmentary notes, make sure you use as complete a description as you can.

8. All entries are either in ink or printed and attached to the page with tape or glue. If attaching a page to the notebook, draw a line across the boundary of the attachment and the page and initial and date the line, this ensures that the date of the attachment is in congruence with the dates in the notebook.

9. Your writing must be legible. If someone else can’t read it, it must be redone. If it is illegible it might as well not exist. Remember you are writing to the future in your notebook, it must be clear.

What To Put In the Notebook:

1. Table of Contents. Leave room at the front of the notebook if there isn’t an explicit table of contents. Keep this up to date. This helps with finding information quickly in the event of a search through multiple notebooks (a very common occurrence).

2. Include a list of your assumptions as you begin.

3. Include any formulae or calculations that are important to your work.

4. Data, drawings, sketches, processes, procedures, notations, corrections, part numbers, assemblies, code snippets, tests, test results, etc. In General your thinking.

All of the above items are relatively easy to maintain once you get the mindset that you are writing to the future, in addition to the present.

Go get a notebook, set down and innovate, create and invent! It’s fun!

Image Courtesy: Paul Watson on Flickr

Documenting Inventions

by Thomas Frasher on September 14, 2009

A few weeks ago I wrote a series of articles on protecting your intellectual property. Today’s article is the beginning in a series that discusses how to protect your inventions before the patents are filed.
Long ago simply keeping the invention to yourself was adequate protection, this is no longer the case. If you can create an invention, some one else can create the same thing with the same amount of effort. In the end it all comes down to when you invented it and your ability to document when you created your invention.
The main method of protection to use when inventing is the laboratory notebook. There are many vendors for laboratory notebooks on the internet, prices range form a few dollars a piece to well over $100 (listing at the end of the article). This is not a place to save money, nor is it a place to break the bank.

Important Qualities in Lab Notebooks

  • Hard bound – This is more for the protection of the contents of the notebook.
  • Stitch Bound – It is important that the notebook show any evidence of tampering.
  • Preprinted sequential pages numbers.
  • Embossed book numbering.
  • Preprinted grids or lines on each page
  • Signature and confirmation block at the bottom of the page. It is important that each page has a signature block for counter signature.

Lab Notebook Rules

  • Only one lab notebook open per person at a time.
  • Lab note books are filled out contemporaneously, any gaps in time will cause questions t if a review is necessary.
  • A list of notebooks and who they are issued to must be kept.
  • Every pages must be signed and dated.
  • If you need to attach a printout to any page, use tape to affix the attachment to the page, then draw a single line that traverses from the attached page to bound page. Signed and date on the line. Any signature without a date is invalid.
  • No skipped pages. This is very important, any gaps, as in #2 above will create questions if a legal review is necessary.
  • Lab notebooks must be stored securely, remember, this is the history of your invention.
  • One final guideline – Start writing in your lab notebook early. In a legal conflict the earliest date wins.

What Goes in a Lab Notebook?
The simple answer to this question is “everything”. Everything that is that can be attributed to the invention you are working on. And several inventions can share a lab notebook.

What Does Not Go in a Lab Notebook?
Non-project related data – don’t write a grocery list in the book.

Partial List of Lab Notebook Suppliers:

For documenting your inventions, grab a good notebook, get a good pen, and start writing. More next week on the maintenance and upkeep of your lab notebook.

What’s In The Name

by Robert Driscoll on August 20, 2009

2008-01-28-domain-real-estate-istockphoto572188-400x300Many different areas of business have been covered in the past several weeks on from the dance of entrepreneurship , creating and protecting your intellectual property, to protecting your company’s data .  Our goal is to help people transform their world by coming up with uncommon offers in the marketplace. 

So, now you’ve come up with the next breakthrough and are ready to take your first step as an entrepreneur.  You’ve come up with a name for your company and have set up a corporation.  You’re excited.  Financial freedom is just around the corner.  You go to register your company’s domain name and you come to find out…someone already owns it.  Don’t give up. 

Here are some simple steps to help you to continue moving forward.

1.     Change Your Domain Suffix

If .com is not available, look to see if any of the other domains are available (.net, .biz, etc…).  Be careful though as you might be in violation of a possible trademark infringement if the other domain in use is a legitimate business.

2.     Change The Name Slightly

Work on finding variations of the name you want until you find one that is available.  Again, be careful with this option as well as you could also be in violation of a possible trademark infringement. 

3.     Buy The Domain Name

Domain names are bought and sold all the time at sites like or  Having the right domain name online can help establish your company’s identity.  Determine what the value of building your brand without being able to use the company name and domain you desire and compare that to what it would cost to buy the domain you want.  If the latter is less, simply buy the domain and continue moving forward. 

4.     If You Already Own The Trademark

If you already own the trademark to your company’s name, you have some options.  If you are dealing with a cybersquatter, the first, and less expensive, option is to contact ICANN and file a dispute under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.  The cost to go this route varies as it depends on the number of domains filed in the dispute and the number of panelist required.  You can also send a cease and desist letter to the party that is “squatting” on your desired domain.  A sample letter can be found here .  While this process might be time consuming and cumbersome, it is considerably less expensive than the final option. 

5.     Seek Legal Advice

When you’ve exhausted all of your options, this might be the only one remaining.  Before going down this path, consider the time and money it might take if you try to resolve this matter with the “help” of an attorney.  If this goes to court and you win, you could have all or part of your legal expenses paid for by the other party, but be careful as you could very easily lose and incur legal expenses and still not have the name you wanted for your business. 

Unfortunately there is no one way to resolve this issue, but it is important to understand that you do have options should you encounter this problem.  It is just as important to determine how much time and money you are willing to invest before you go after the name you want.  Sometimes it’s just easier to come up with a new name.

Intellectual Property – Part IV – Finding Help

by Thomas Frasher on July 21, 2009

Intellectual Property – Part IV – Finding Help

As I’ve mentioned in every article on this subject (Article I, Article II, & Article III) you need help. And you need the best help you can get.  This article is about finding and engaging the best help you can get.

From Help; verb: to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist

There are other distinctions to be sure, and for the purposes of this article I’ll be using the one above.

Here are some guidelines for gathering the help you need when creating and protecting intellectual property:

1. Be clear about you goal. If you intend to prosecute a patent, keep that in mind as you go forward.

2. Listen to your counsel and ask as many questions as you need to to make sure that you understand. Something to remember is that the help you find will by necessity be schooled in a discourse that is dissimilar to yours, anything you don’t understand will be filled in by your background and can lead to faulty assumptions.  If you have any doubt, ask.

3. Prepare as much ahead of time as possible and with as much detail as possible, before going out to find your help.

In the intellectual property realm there are basically 3 ways to prosecute the patent:

1. Engage a patent attorney:

a. tell them your invention,

b. they write it up,

c. you review it,

d. repeat b & c as many times as needed (better to get it right once) ,

e. you give them cash and they file the patent and 2 or 3 years later the USPTO issues or declines the patent.

2. Engage a patent service:

Usually patent clerks and non-licensed people help you navigate the paperwork and get the patent prepared, follow the same process as above with the exception that you file the patent yourself.

Upside: less expensive than option 1 above, and they can review your invention thoroughly; They are also not governed by the same rules and ethics as a patent attorney.

Downside: They can’t help you in a dispute; you’ll still need the patent attorney for that.

3. Do it yourself – AKA – the hard way.

a. You need to determine what forms to fill-in needed to file the patent,

b. you write up the design,

c. you review the invention write up,

d. you write a check to the USPTO and file you patent. 2-4 years later the USPTO will either grant or decline your application.

4. A combination of any of the above:

Depending on your relationship with the attorney, this option can save you thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. That said there is a point to be made here: you will save the out of pocket cash that you don’t send to the attorney by spending your time doing the things the attorney would have done, either your time or the attorney’s time will get spent.

For all the patents I’ve filed in the past, it has been option 4 with the inventors doing some work and the patent attorney’s doing the rest. In my opinion it pays very large dividends to invest in a relationship with your patent attorney, they can and will help you.

Selecting an Attorney:

  1. I can’t stress this enough, find someone that has been doing this for a while.  The rules have recently changed and you need someone that has context on how the rules changed and how it will affect you.
  2. Find someone that you can work well with, you don’t have to be best friends, but you have to be able to trust them.
  3. Make sure they have a successful practice (partners, clerks, other staff, etc)
  4. Make sure the office is organized (it may not be neat and tidy, but it does need to be organized).
  5. If they are dismissive of your concerns, walk away. You are new to this, so when you don’t understand something have them explain it, the best attorney’s will take the time to make sure you understand what they are doing for you, and why.
  6. Make sure they are cognizant of the field you are inventing within. They or someone on their staff will need relevant exposure to the field, or you will spend a lot of time and therefore cash, explaining your invention to them (don’t take an oil drilling patent to a computer software patent attorney).
  7. You must be willing to walk away from the meeting without signing anything if you don’t feel right. You should feel no high pressure from the attorney.

With all these things taken into account, get to know your patent counsel; they are usually great folks, who want to help you. I have had patent attorneys point out derivative inventions that I had missed; if I’d had a poor relationship with them they may not have done that. What started as one patent became three.  On the other hand, sometime they will recommend combining patents (if you submit several related patents at once, I’ve had four patents become one), this will save you cash during your filing and probably give you better protections.

Another point to remember is that patents are not mysterious, magical things. They are practical, and denote a professional demeanor for your business. They can enhance the desirability for acquisition if that is your exit strategy, they can protect your marketplace and allow others to create markets with you.

Get started! … find a patent attorney that you can work well with, brainstorm with people you like to work with, invent something new, and bring it to the marketplace.