Should Provisional Patent Pending Products be on the web?

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Patent Pending Products on the web

 

Searching on the web for instances of patent pending products for sale without pictorial or detailed narrative descriptions was unsuccessful.  Google Searching for patent pending heat exchangers yields 82,400 results.  A lot of the information on the web is detailed as shown in a few examples in the appendix.

Google searching patent pending oil and gas products yields 7,400,000 results. Large publically traded companies and the tiniest of companies depict their patent pending products on the web.  Veolia has patent pending products on the web.  General Electric publishes videos about their new patent-pending technologies: http://youtu.be/fnjhVbaPS1Q.  Small companies put their patent pending products on the web too.

http://dragonskinproducts.net/dragonjacket.pdf

Adrian Zettell  puts his patent pending product directly on the web.  Adrian Just made a sale to Schlumberger too.  It is simple stuff he has on the web.  Adrian describes the materials in his invention and illustrates the hose clamp assemblies holding it together. He describes well enough that making his product from the pictures and descriptions is not difficult.

Large and small companies put their patent pending products on the web.  A general Google search for patent pending products shows more than six million results.

It is clear that our rights are not enforceable until a patent is issued.  However, we have no assurance that a patent will be issued, and if it is not, any protection is gone.  I read that a provisional patent application is excellent protection from poachers because it is secret, and being secret, a potential competitor does not know the extent of the claims and could be infringing.  Companies with anything to lose (goodwill, money, reputation) are unlikely to steal our patent pending ideas and products.

A review of the online articles about publishing and marketing patent pending products:

“Before outlining some strategic options, I should mention that the magnitude of fear of showing others an invention at this stage is often overblown. In my experience, it is rare that a company will knock off an invention at this stage[1]

Before the patent issues, however, a competitor is always in doubt about how much coverage the issued patent will give the patentee. The competitor must weigh the costs of developing a competing product with the risk that his or her product may directly infringe when the patent issues. In many scenarios, the “patent pending” moniker is more effective as a business tool than the actual issued patent.[2]

When your competitors see the words “Patent Pending” at a trade show, on your new product, on your web site, or in your sales literature, they will naturally wonder about the scope of your patent application. But if that application has not been published its contents are confidential, as long as you maintain them so. Your patent application will not be discoverable for at least eighteen months or more, and even then, prosecution could impact what ultimately may issue. So your competitor’s fear of the unknown may provide you a temporary but substantial advantage in the marketplace. Use it well[3].

Filing a provisional patent application that adequately describes the invention will establish priority and satisfies the need to act swiftly under first to file rules. A well prepared provisional patent application is your best friend in a first to file world.[4]

Assuming you have filed an appropriate provisional patent application you can market the invention without fear of losing patent rights, generating cash to proceed with development or further patent activities.  In other words, the provisional patent application is an interim step along the road to a patent.[5]

All this is not good for the offending company.  By the time the infringement case is over, that company may have to pay triple damages, have to quit selling the product, and lose all its development and marketing costs.

For this reason, you are likely to find that most companies are not likely to rip off your “patent pending” invention if they believe you have a good chance of eventually getting a patent.  These companies will recognize that it is better business to simply buy or license the patent rights from you than steal the idea from you and face the consequences.[6]

As good practice, you should only publicly disclose your invention after you are patent pending. However, it is important to remember that the patent application only “protects” the invention that is disclosed in the patent application. If you change your invention design and that change is not disclosed by the patent application, then that modified invention is not protected. It is possible for you to file another patent application to protect the new design.[7]

In summary – the short answer – go ahead and show it.  If you have any more questions please contact me at elliot AT patentauthority.com[8].”

Google searches yielded no attorney blog or article that supports our attorney’s position of not disclosing the invention on the web.  For a bit of gentle fun:

One can make a case against anything. Like making an argument against walking across the street for fear of an accident. The odds of a pedestrian getting hit by a car: 000232[9].  Patent litigation[10]  occurred in about 3000 cases in 2013.  There were 600,000 patent applications in 2013[11].  One-half of one percent file a case.  Only 3.6% of these go to trial.  96% settle[12].  Extrapolating; .00036 of the cases require the full cost of court litigation, a slightly bigger risk than crossing the street.

90% of an invention’s success is marketing it and getting it out.  “[T]he idea is about 10 percent of this exercise; 90 percent of it is the marketing of it, getting it together, getting it out.” (Richard C. Levy, inventor of Furby quoted in Liane Hansen,  All Things Considered (NPR), “Profile: Independent toy inventor Richard C. Levy,” June 18, 2002)

We cannot stop the Chinese from knocking off our invention, but we can keep knockoffs from our shores.  Chinese patent protection is getting more robust[13].   It seems unlikely that the Chinese or another foreign knock off originators become interested in our product until we make a market.  We have international patent protection.  Chinese patent applications are not expensive.  So, perhaps we get one in China in a couple of years?  We have the Chinese law (I think treble damages are in the works) and US law to protect ourselves.

My preference is to use Adam’s approach.  It is simple, inexpensive and it works.  He is getting orders.

 

 

Appendix

 

Figure 1http://baseloadgeoenergyblog.com/tag/heat-exchanger/

 

 

Figure 2http://www.moontrail.com/msr-reactor.php?mes=apper

 

Figure 3 http://mepca-engineering.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/mepcanews1-720×480.jpg

 

http://basicconcepts.com/products/products_rigid_lock_fail_safe_quickberm-asp/

 

http://www.veoliawaterstna.com/vwst-northamerica/ressources/images/40/64482,silica_sorption_diagram_11-13-14.jpeg

 

 

[1] http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217211

 

[2] http://krajec.com/advertising-and-marketing-uses-for-patents-and-the-deterrent-factor/

 

[3] http://www.patent-innovations.com/documents/200705limitedmonopoly-patentpending.pdf

 

[4] http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/09/14/the-benefits-of-a-provisional-patent-application/id=45156/

 

[5] http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/09/14/the-benefits-of-a-provisional-patent-application/id=45156/

[6] http://mlwise-law.com/articles/is-my-invention-protected-when-it-is-patent-pending

[7] http://www.edisonnation.com/forums/patents/topics/am-i-protected-when-my-invention-is-patent-pending

[8] http://patentauthority.com/2008/12/patent-pending-without-nda/

[9] http://www.ask.com/math/odds-getting-hit-car-8153e02f5ac36140

[10] http://www.patstats.org/Patstats2.html

[11] http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/us_stat.htm

[12] http://www.wolfgreenfield.com/files/albert_is_patent_litigation_worth_it_.pdf

[13] http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/04/04/chinas-great-leap-forward-in-patents/id=38625/

 

 

 

Categories: Sales, Strategy

Values

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Values

Values before principles

Values set the stage for everything else.  Common values hold venture inventors and their teams together.

Boldness

Venture Inventing points to a bold path.  It is not for the faint of heart. Airplane pilot tradecraft says “there are bold pilots and old pilots, there are no old, bold pilots”.  Inventing is the opposite, “there are bold inventors and old inventors, the only old inventors are bold”.  New inventions necessitate boldness.  Capital of all sorts and risk are put on the table.

Bravery

Or “facing the music” is tough for many inventors who believe that their project is without competition, is the best thing and that the world will beat a path to their door.  Bravery is putting the work at risk and allowing it to fail if the invention is not commercially viable.  Some say the odds are astronomical, others say better than even.  None say “no risk”.  All say “check it out and make sure it passes muster”.  Bravery is putting it all on the line.  From the teammate who passes on negative feedback fearing for his job, to the investor who sunk money, to the inventor who realizes that the prototype did not perform in the field like the computer model said it would.  Facing the music – risking ones job, income and invention takes bravery.

Honesty

Intellectual honesty takes work.  Inventing around the intent of another invention is not as satisfying as inventing a new invention. Honesty of all types is fundamental to business and life working.  For accountability to work, people have to be honest.  Sometimes honesty is painful.  When work was promised and golf is what happened, being honest gets uncomfortable.  Clear honest communication is burn-out preventive medicine.  Example: If a teammate is tasked with making calls, and management is as interested in the negative calls as the positive ones but the teammate does not know this, and instead views negative calls as a personal failing, the teammate is tempted to cover up the high incidence of negative outcomes.  If the honesty prevails, the worried teammate presents the actual responses and receives positive feedback for the report.

Care

New projects are fraught with possible failures.  Care eliminates many risks and minimizes others.  Is the business case for the invention accurate and useful, was it made with care?  Are the drawings thoughtful so that affordable manufacturing is feasible?  Is the prototype made to exacting standards?  Baking the cake of a new invention, by definition, has new parts to the recipe.  Only careful and thoughtful work allows the invention to taste good.  Caring about deadlines, projects, team mates, customers, stakeholders and the myriad details that go into any new invention is fundamental to success.

Diligence

inventions that are not diligently prosecuted end up as good ideas that someone else is doing.  The effort of creation is remarkable, time stopping, engrossing, and difficult.  Focus and persistence are the keys to the act of creation.  There is more.  Just because one had an idea, should this idea be prosecuted?  Due diligence, finding out if there is indeed a market and that the market is profitable for the costs comes right after the idea.  Some inventors figure out the market first and then invent to the market.  Either way, diligence include careful expenditures, checking twice, legal in order and everything else.  The attribute of diligence is necessary for success.

Privacy

Public or casual presentation of inventions and their derivative ideas cause messy ownership of the new intellectual property.  The wrong publicity can lead to crushing competition.  Without publicity, marketing and advertising, the invention is unlikely to leave the shop.  See more on this topic.

Kindness

Not everyone sees the use of a new invention, or the future it suggests.  Lack of kindness impedes work from all perspectives. See http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_compassion_in_business_makes_sense

 

 

 

 

Categories: Strategy

Is it better to License, to Sell?

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License or Sell? Quotes worth reading.

“500 billion Annual patent licensing revenues forecast for the U.S. for the year 2005.  “In 1990, it is estimated that in the United States alone $15 billion in revenue was derived from patent licensing. In 1998, that shot up 700 percent to $100 billion. It is [predicted] that by 2005, patent licensing revenues will top half a trillion dollars annually.  Amazingly, most American businesses are ignoring an astonishing $1 trillion in intellectual property asset wealth. This is thought to represent the most fertile, yet most ignored, ground for development by corporate chief financial officers.  An increasing number of business leaders at companies such as Microsoft, Lucent, Intel, Dell and Dow Chemical are regarding intellectual property as the new core of the modern business enterprise and a major factor in their success.” Patent licensing statistics.  Intellectual Property (IP) licensing revenues statistics. (Arlen L. Olsen, Contributor, 518-220-1850, “Patents are big moneymaker these days for companies,” The Business Review – Albany, Friday, August 11, 2000), obtained via http://www.inventionstatistics.com/Licensing_Royalty_Revenues.html

“We believe that ideas are valuable. Everything that we do—whether partnering with our worldwide network of 4,000 inventors, purchasing patents from individuals and businesses, or creating our own inventions—is aligned to building and growing an invention marketplace. Learn more about us.http://www.intellectualventures.com/ ” http://www.intellectualventures.com/

Click here for our directory of over 1600 companies that are looking for ideas. There’s never been a better time to be an inventor, because more companies than ever before are looking for inventions. As open innovation continues to grow, we think there will be even more companies that want ideas from inventors. Here are just a few: http://www.inventright.com/

Inpama
Marketplace for your ideas.

inpama.com is the marketplace to sell inventions and patents. Our goal is to provide inventors a platform to sell and market their inventions on their own. We do not charge any commission or fees from inventors or invention seekers. It’s risk-free. http://www.inpama.com/

Statistically, the odds of venturing a new invention is low. 99.8% fail.  Only 3,000 patents out of 1.5 million patents are commercially viable. “In truth, odds are stacked astronomically against inventors, and no marketing outfit can change them. ‘There are around 1.5 million patents in effect and in force in this country, and of those, maybe 3,000 are commercially viable,’ [Richard Maulsby, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office http://www.inventionstatistics.com/Licensing_Royalty_Revenues.html

Think about it.

Categories: Strategy

Principles

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The Seven Principles for the Venture Inventor

We can predict the future and change it. Inventing requires prediction.  

If a rising tide lifts all boats, perhaps a falling tide is not much fun.  Astutely separating the fads from the trends, the venture inventor sees the trends and invents to better the future that’s coming.

2016 predictions.

Climate change is here to stay.  Inventions that reduce greenhouse gasses are well received.  About 3,900,000 babies born last year. Immigration is significant too.  The millennial population exceeds the baby boomers.  Inventions that help the baby boomers and track the millennials do well in 2016.  Desperate nations need oil revenue.  The USA team in the shale oil plays has disrupted the “Peak Oil” thinking and now the USA team can export to the world.  The days of $100 oil are gone – for a decade.  Perhaps forever as the world shifts away from carbon fuels.  Lucky to see $60 a barrel.  The French cry of “liberty, equality, fraternity” is being echoed by found again socialist democrats. That didn’t turn out so well for the “let them eat cake” crowd.  Upward mobility inventions (nano degrees, new teaching methodology, simplification) that educate and lift opportunity do well. If it can be automated, it will be – see more jobs disappear – any rote job, and some fancy ones will be augmented.  More long range medicine, fewer receptionists.

Birth_Rate_in_USA_1934-2004

Live Births, USA

Accountability

The “Oz Principle” lays out the case for and explains accountability.  It is difficult to diagnose and repair problems without accountability.  Accountability means taking responsibility for ones part.  Accountable people make things happen.

Inventions fail because:

doesn’t work very well – (inventor)

poor quality – (maker)

too few buyers – (un-disciplined marketing)

poor margins – (cost accounting forecasts)

legal restrictions -(lawyers)

and many other items, from the details like web design failure to the big picture of wrong strategy,

Sharpen the Saw.  A term borrowed from Stephen Covey.  Learning is life long.  Inventors cannot stop learning and continue to invent.  Fundamentally, inventing is about learning. Learning what is needed, what works and does not work is fundamental to the invention process.

Best idea wins. 

Founders disagree.  The best course is to take the best idea(s) and implement.  Which is the best idea?  Perform SWOT analysis on the variations together.

Give. Inventors give.  

Planning works.  No road map is difficult.

Execution. Get it done.

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Categories: Strategy

Strategy – Product Launch

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Venture Investors typically shape their strategy around:

I predict the future, and I change it.

My resources are constrained.

Some say that underfunding is a noble thing. An inventor, starting a company with a thousand dollars and growing it to make millions is laudable. This route is feasible for venturing smallish inventions.  If the invention is sizable, the capital requirements are greater.  A good strategy includes the costs of building the prototype and professionally launching the product.

By default, part of the business strategy is “pioneering”. Pioneering is introducing a new product to the market.  Typically, pioneering strategies include trials for the user.  In addition yo pioneering, the new venture has one of two strategies to pick. The venture inventor engages in skimming or penetration.  Skimming is for those with shallow pockets.  Deep pockets have a choice of skimming or penetration.

In addition yo pioneering, the new venture has one of two strategies to pick. The venture inventor engages in skimming or penetration.  Skimming is for those with shallow pockets.  Deep pockets have a choice of skimming or penetration. Skimming is fewer sales at the richest markets.  Penetration is all out marketing.

Skimming requires precision.

The inventor knows the market segments, has talked to the customers and is precisely targeting the invention to those that need it the most.  Lack of capital forces sales in the direction of low hanging fruit.  If the fancy version of the invention has a long lead time, the inventor may choose to market to those that need the simpler version (minimum viable product). Skimming comes in shades.  Some have next to no money and others have more resources.

Penetration is fine for seasoned manufacturers, deep pockets and finely engineered products. Since most venture inventors do not have the assets, savvy and skills required to perform and execute a penetration strategy, the default strategy is skimming.

To find the right market segment the inventor has to get out of the office, go see customers, call customers on the phone.  With rich information and a creative mind, the offering is crafted to match the customers.

Example: One invention, a device that adds gasses to industrial tanks to promote convection sounded great in the office.  The customers didn’t agree because the gasses meant that the cover had to open.  Open cover and the contents are “tampered”.  Tampered products and some not friendly emissions made the sale an up hill proposition.  Nimble focus on smaller users with less onerous restrictions made up the difference.

Calls are ok, but physically being there is better.  Seeing the body language, the plant, and generally, the environment offers richer information than phone calls.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Strategy