ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for June, 2020

What’s Worse Than Not Having a Patent? You Might Be Surprised

Posted by Plish on June 1, 2020

She would never let something like this happen to someone else again. Her brother narrowly escaped with his life. Were it not for the quick thinking of the medical personnel, she would have lost her brother Tim.  He was only there for a simple vaccination. Somehow, something in the vaccine reacted with his blood. Tim went into shock.

After that harrowing experience, she asked herself what anyone would:

Why isn’t there a quick test for checking if someone will react to the injection?

She decided to do some research and create a solution.  After a year of research, she thought she was on to something.  She called a friend who was a patent attorney and submitted the idea, something that she was sure would make a difference in the world.

I met Elaine, (not her real name,) when she came to me wanting to prototype the idea that she had patented. It was an exciting project and I jumped on it right away. However, once I saw the patent, I dug into the technology and there were some major issues. The product was next to impossible to manufacture. Not only that, there were newer  tests in the marketplace that could be manufactured on something the size of a thumb drive and thrown away afterword.  Elaine’s device would be the size of football and would require cleaning of some components after use.

I mentioned all of this to Elaine and she followed up with her patent attorney who said that everything in the patent, of course, protected her and assured her she didn’t infringe on other patents. But that wasn’t the problem. This wasn’t a product that was manufacturable, and even if it were, it would be too expensive and too much trouble for a lab to maintain.  In short, she had a patent that was useless, and worse, worthless.  She had spent $7000-$10000 in patent application services up to that point, not to mention over a year of her sweat and time, and she was no closer to helping others like her brother.  In fact, because of the year’s plus worth of time she sunk into the project, others would be that much closer to commercializing a usable solution.

The problem, and one I see too often in inventor/entrepreneurs, is that Elaine lacked in two areas and was driven by one:

Elaine LackedUnderstanding of…

  1. Key technologies on a fundamental, scientific level
  2. Similar technologies that could compete with what she wanted to accomplish

Understanding Technology

When patenting an idea it’s essential that the underlying technology be understood.  It’s not the job of the patent attorney or patent office to rigorously prove out a patent.  They assume that the person filing the patent has done that already.

Understanding Similar Technologies

There are very few technologies that are brand new to the world.  Chances are that any idea you have, there’s something similar, somewhere in the world, at some place in time.  It might not even be in the same industry, but something similar is likely out there.  Testing technologies have grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade.  Much of this is due to the miniaturization of electronics.  Before, an entire laboratory of equipment was needed to do a specific test.  Now it can be done on something the size of a credit card or smaller.  There are trends in the directions testing technology is going.  It’s important to understand those trends.  If you want your patent to be valuable, it needs to either be riding that trend or taking that trend one step further.

So, in this case, if the testing mechanism isn’t going to be smaller, or quicker, or cleaner, or disposable, unless it is just as (or more!) accurate and unbelievably cheaper, it is not going to do well in the marketplace.  Elaine’s device had too many components, and was large.  It would simply be too expensive to manufacture and maintain.

Instead Elaine Was Driven By…

  1. Emotion

 

I get it.  I’ve been there myself.  A great idea, a great cause.  There has to be a product here.  I need to patent it now!

But the same passion that drives us to solve problems can also drive us to waste time and money.  It’s hard to see something for what it is.

If Elaine had  looked at the above two areas, without emotion, while she was doing her research, she would have saved herself a year’s worth of work and 7000 to 10,000 dollars for a patent that would never make that money back.

Objectivity

I mention this last, but it’s not always easy being objective.

It takes a special person to look at your own idea and stop trying to commercialize it.  I’ve done it to my own ideas and it hurts!  That’s why it helps when there are others involved. In big businesses, there are multiple sets of eyes looking at an idea and the possibility of getting a patent.

As an inventor/entrepreneur, if you’re trying to come up with a way to solve a problem, or if you’ve got an idea but just aren’t sure what to do next, don’t just patent it.  Your money and time is worth too much to throw it away.  If Elaine would’ve taken time to understand key technologies and similar tech to hers, she may actually have developed and patented something that was saving lives and building a business.

If you are on the verge of filing for a patent or you have a problem that you’d like solved, set up an appointment for a one hour consult https://calendly.com/zenstorming/60min and let’s see if I can help you avoid the pitfalls Elaine fell into.  My goal is to ultimately save you time and money in generating an idea and/or bringing your product to market.

We can all make the world a better place with our ideas.  But we can also make things worse for ourselves if we’re not careful.

Looking forward to chatting!

(Also looking forward to your thoughts on this topic. Share your thoughts below!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Entrepreneurship, idea generation, innovation, Innovation Tools, patents, problem solving, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: