The Myth of Provisional Patent Applications

Startups are routinely told to get a provisional patent application. There is absolutely NO business reason why a startup should EVER do a provisional, and we pick apart every argument.  (The only reason why startups file provisional patent applications is to placate unsophisticated investors.) Provisional Patent Applications are not the ugly stepchild of Non-Provisional Patent…

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Early and Often? This is not Voting in Chicago.

File patents early and often.  At least the patent attorney will make some money. We look at this advice and poke holes in it.  Every word in a patent hurts you. There is a huge tradeoff when you file patents.  Are you getting a good bargain?  Are you giving away too much and getting too…

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Someone will steal my idea if I do not get a patent.

Customer feedback is essential to know if a patent is worth the expense – but some people think their idea will be “stolen” if they talk to customers. What should they do? Two answers: One, if you need to tell people about your invention when doing customer discover, you are doing it wrong. Two, there…

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Patent Valuation is a Myth

Patent valuation is really slippery, and completely depends on the context. Patents can be thought of as call options on technology.  They are a time-limited bet that the market will adopt a technology. At the beginning, the patent is an out-of-the-money call option and has only potential value.  Once infringement occurs, the patent turns into…

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Myth: Your Patent Attorney Is Your Friend

Don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut. The conflict of interest between the client and the attorney is huge. We look at an example of an inventor who thought he was getting a “good” patent but it turns out that the patent attorney was only responsible getting “a” patent.  The client was disappointed…

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Willful Blindness and Patents

Inventors – and virtually everyone in the patent process – have huge blind spots. We look at Tropicana’s patents on the single greatest invention in their industry in half a century, and see how at every level nobody would do the math to see if a patent was the right strategy. It turns out that…

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Myth: Inventorship

Inventorship is vitally important to a patent, but people often abuse it. I have heard of companies putting someone’s name on a patent application because they paid for it – or including your boss’s name on a patent even when they did not contribute. Improper inventorship is one of the easiest ways to kill a…

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NDAs ARE Actually Important

Non Disclosure Agreements and Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreements: these are critically important. Some entrepreneurs use NDAs as weapons to ward off the evil people who will “steal” their ideas.  This is using NDAs badly. Use these agreements to set a positive tone of a budding relationship, but also to make sure a startup actually…

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Patent Searching Myths

Should you do a patent search?  Could it be helpful or harmful? For big companies, patent searches are forbidden because of the liability.  But for startup companies, patent searches can help your due diligence prior to filing. Beware of doing a patent search with the unconscious bias against the prior art.  Far too many inventors…

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