As inventors we are always searching for something. Like Ponce De Leon, we tell ourselves the fountain of inventing youth is just around the corner if we just keep going.
But "searching" is a huge word in terms of inventing and it can mean many things. We can search for just the right invention, just the right solution to a problem, or even just the right company to take our great new idea to market.
What we see with new inventors most often are two definitions of the term "Search" and they normally get them mixed up with each other. Let's take a quick look at the two most popular forms of searching and make sure we're doing the right search at the right time.
Product Search and Patent Search are by far the most used search processes in the inventing industry. But they are also the most confusing to new inventors.
A "Product Search" Simply put, is the search for like products. This is hands down the most important search you can do (Yes patent people, I said it) far more important at the beginning stages than a patent search. (see....I said it again) At the end of the day this is business and if your great new idea is already on the market and doing well, you will need to think long and hard about pursuing it.
Conducting a product search using tools like the internet, catalogs, shopping sites, going to retailers, asking friends and family.... will give you a good sense if the ideas has already been developed and the data you need to make a good decision about moving forward with it.
A "Patent Search" on the other hand is an exercise in protection and courtesy. You search patents to see if the protection is available should you decide to move forward, and to ensure you show other people the respect of not infringing on the protections they have been granted.
Patent searches have NOTHING to do with the initial indication of commercial viability of a product. They play a very important role in the valuation of an idea, they may even play a role in how you take a product to the market. But they will in no any way give you a sense of viability - and in the initial stages of developing an idea into a product viability is crucial.
Next time you hear and inventor say "well just do a search" or someone say "I did a patent search" think to yourself what kind of search? Because a product search is always the first step, and although important in the process, patent searching falls a bit lower in the process.
Please, let's just use the 401K money....Can you borrow some money from your parents?
Like many married inventors â€“ you have no doubt found yourself in that unfortunate position were youâ€™re asking your â€śsignificant otherâ€ť to support this often unpredictable inventing journey. In most inventing families that support takes on many forms. Support could be anything from a simple smile, to a blank check - In my house for instance itâ€™s â€śthatâ€™s great honeyâ€ťâ€¦..and then the â€śShow me the moneyâ€ť look.
But thatâ€™s okâ€¦we all go through this at one point or another. Maybe itâ€™s the way our brains work. The ability to conger up the tenacity and faith that keeps us moving down the road towards what we know we can accomplish. After all - we can expect others to have the same level of faith in our abilities that we have. In most cases we can usually expect some support, even if it's just a smile.
Use your love of inventing and your ability to think outside thebox to further your families fortune. But be responsible about it. Take the time to educate yourself, to understand the risks, and to surround yourself with honest people willing to help.
Whatever you do - be a good steward of the support you do receive, after all they are counting on you.
As brothers often do, my two sons enjoy a healthy dose of sarcasm in their interactions with each other.
One such interaction recently lead to an opportunity for my youngest son Nicholas to create a unique and thought filled Birthday gift for his older brother.
None of us really like to be asked what we want for our birthdays, so when Nick asked his brother what he wanted for his birthday this year the replay was "World Peace"
Most of us would have taken such an answer and gone off to buy a sweater. Nicholas however wanted to see just how close he could get to giving his brother what he had asked for.
He didn't get all the world's leaders to agree to put down their weapons, but he did get a significant number of people to pick up their Sharpies.
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Homo Habilis is a well-known, but poorly defined species discovered in 1960, by the Leakey team in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.
Over the next four years the specimen was subjected to intense study by the multidisciplinary team of Louis Leakey, John Napier, and Phillip Tobias. In January 1964, the team announced the new species Homo habilis. The name was suggested by Raymond Dart, and means â€śhandy man,â€ť in reference to this hominids supposed tool making prowess.
This puts the 2.3 million year old "Human" as the oldest recorded inventor on the planet. One many scientist attribute to the inventor of Stone Tools.
That's where it all started folks, Homo Habilis emerging from a cave, forced to invent tools for survival.
Through the next 2 million years there would be much more inventing going on. The invention of fire, the wheel, weapons, even the transformation of basic tools through the Bronze and into the Iron age.
At the center of this evolution of innovation - our inventor ancestors. The men and women of our planet who made life survivable, and then livable for the rest of us.
We may not live in caves and dawn fur loin clothes any longer, but the impact of our inventing on those around us is no less important today than it was all those years ago.
It really is all in the name â€“ as people we tend to have a conservative bent to our naming - John, Thomas, Julie, Frank, and so on. Every once in a while you see a name that stands out from the rest. Take â€śMoonâ€ť Zappa for instance, or Gwyneth Paltrowâ€™s little girl â€śAppleâ€ť names that donâ€™t exactly fit into the main stream â€“ but is that a bad thing?
Maybe not for a child, but it can be for an inventor trying to come up with a name for the product that will eventually emerge from the hard fought technology being developed in the basement.
Letâ€™s start by looking at some product names that simply should have never made their way to the store shelf. What were they thinking?
Pee Cola (Beverage)
Poo (Potato chips)
Fridge Balls (air fresheners for your fridge)
Anusol (Creamâ€¦you can guess what kind)
Bimbo (Sandwich bread)
Wack-Off (Insect repellent)
Now in all fairness there has been a long standing debate in the marketing world about this issue. Some experts say only use names that are descriptive of your product, some say use names that are catchy and have nothing to do with your product, and still others say anything goes â€“ use a name that will get â€śTop of Mindâ€ť (a marketing term that describes remembering something before something else) the wackier the better.
I tend to stay in the middle. In most cases I think a name should be somewhat descriptive of the use of a product simply because you have so little time to communicate value to the consumer and the name is a prime place to do that. Short of an obvious descriptive nature to the name, it should have some memory to it in terms of getting the consumer to think of it rather than the competitors. All in all I tend to use a set of simple rules to stay on the right track for naming a product.
1. Never name a product after a derogatory term and never use a term or phrase that could offend the consumer in any way.
2. Always keep it as short as possible â€“ consumers are bombarded with images and things to remember, short and sweet will always win out over long and complicated
3. Funny works great when it can be used, but donâ€™t force feed funny
4. Donâ€™t be afraid to use a tag line to add additional information or act as a clarifier for the name itself
5. Complicated names make the consumer feel stupid â€“ it may not be true, but they assume everyone else gets it and they donâ€™t. This brings them right back to an earlier bad memory and creates an indelible line between that bad memory and your product â€“ not good for sales.
6. Hooked on Phonics â€“ the consumer has to be able to phonetically pronounce your product name. If they canâ€™t, they feel stupid, and thereâ€™s that line again back to an unhappy time in Mr. Smithâ€™s 3rd grade English class where all the other kids made fun of them. I knew a lady once years ago who for 20 years refused to buy Neapolitan Ice Cream because she thought it said â€śNapoleonâ€ť. She had taken a history class and learned that Napoleon was not such a nice person. She made a mental link between the name and the product. All because she couldnâ€™t pronounce the name phonetically. This may be an extreme case, but itâ€™s true.
Now these are just my rules, and for you they would be suggestions. Unfortunately there are no "one size fits all" guidelines for naming products. Rather a set of socially driven boundaries and memory tricks we try to work within.
Remember, the name adds a level of value to the product, so making it something the consumer can smile about is always helpful to the purchasing decision since at the end of the day the act of purchasing is all about turning their emotion into your cash.
I recently saw a show on TV about how the mind works. It was fascinating to think about how the mind processes data â€“ but more specifically how the mind fills in the blanks when real information is missing.
Hereâ€™s a great example of what Iâ€™m talking about. What do you see in this picture?
Like most of us you likely see a womanâ€™s backside. Why? - Because your mind took the basic information and filled in what it didn't have with assumptions. We as Inventors often do the same thing.
As the inventor makes the transition to the business world with this new found innovation we quickly realize itâ€™s a world we know little about. So we enter armed with a few bits of real information to work with, but largely leaving our minds to do what they do best. Filling in the blanks with assumptions and force fed images of what the mind is now telling us is our reality.
The problem is, just like your mind tells you this is a picture of a womanâ€™s backside â€“ the mind is often wrong. This is in fact, a picture of a pair of shoes â€“ Ahhhh, now you see it!
The same is true with the assumptions we make about the business end of the inventing industry. Taking a little bit of known information and allowing your mind to fill in the blanks is a really bad idea in business. You need to take the time to educate yourself on the real processes and information associated with taking an invention to the market.
Donâ€™t listen to your friends who know as little as you do about the process, donâ€™t listen to your Dog, or your Cat. Take the time to fill your mind with real information so itâ€™s not left to fill in the blanks with assumptions that could later cost you a great opportunity or a lot of money.
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It may be obvious to you, but it wasnâ€™t to me. There is a simple, no nonsense way to get what you want. Decide, then find a way. In my house we say, â€śPick your spot and GO!â€ť
So often we want something but we do nothing to get it. We have a goal but we donâ€™t move toward achieving that goal. We wish. We lament all the obstacles in our way. We identify all the reasons why we canâ€™t, such as: I donâ€™t have enough time. I canâ€™t afford to, right now. If only the kids were older/younger. I donâ€™t know how. I have no experience. Iâ€™m too short/tall/old/young.
Take a look at the rock climber in the picture. Standing at the bottom of the rock he may have said to himself, â€śI wish I could get to top of that rock.â€ť And looking up he probably saw an area with no footholds, a really steep part, a big drop, a scary crack. He could have walked away wishing he could have climbed that rock. OR â€“ instead he could use all his knowledge, skill and tools to tackle it and deal with one challenge at a time.
There are a million reasons NOT to do something.
What would happen if you decide to go for it? Once you decide then you start solving the problems one by one. You work to find a way around the obstacles. If itâ€™s really what you want, youâ€™ll find a way. Donâ€™t wait until the smoke clears and the seas part. Donâ€™t wait for what you want to fall out of the sky at the absolute perfect time. Make it happen.
In the words of Zeke Topanga from Surfâ€™s Up, â€śDonâ€™t give up. Find a way. Because thatâ€™s what winners do.â€ť
From the Blog Peeling the Orange http://peelingtheorange.com/2013/02/25/pick-your-spot-and-go/
For the first time I'm aware of in the history of our industry, a delegation of people went to Congress specifically to tell the story of the Independent Inventor.
For those who may not know. The UIA works under three tenets. First, the development and distribution of free educational programs for inventors. Second, the building of relationships between inventors and industry to ensure a clean and safe path to market. Thirdly, giving inventors voice through legislative advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels.
It is this third tenet that brought a small group of dedicated UIA staff to Washington DC this week.
Walking the halls of congress going from one meeting to another for two days straight was a daunting task to be sure. But it was also a huge responsibility and true honor.
For it was in that moment, in those meetings, and for that instant we captured the minds and hearts of lawmakers who connected to us as inventors. They thought about their uncle, their father or mother, even their brother or sister as we laid out the issues facing our industry, not in terms of Democrat or Republican politics, but in terms of humanity.
We told them about predatory business practices and intellectual property issues, but the most important part of the narrative was getting them to understand the indelible relationship between inventors and the society we serve - and when we were done, they understood and they pledged their support for our industry. They pledged to work with us to strengthen the current laws, give inventor voice to other legislative initiatives, and to ensure we are always remembered in the minds of our nation's leaders.
We have a long way to go before we see the kinds of reforms that rid our industry of predatory practices and ensure proper representation on national issues - but to paraphrase Neil Armstrong - this was one small step for Congress and one giant leap for inventors.
Technology trade groups that represent Google, Microsoft and Cisco lauded the Research and Development Tax Credit extension. The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) said the Research & Development Tax Credit is key to maintaining the United Statesâ€™ position as a leader in the global tech industry.
This, unfortunately, is not the first time this tax credit has expired, only to be put back into place retroactively. Since the creditâ€™s original expiration date of December 31, 1985, the credit has expired eight times and has been extended 13 times. The current extension expired on December 31, 2011.
This lack of permanency has kept the Research and Development Tax Credit in a constant state of flux, though Congress has consistently extended it since 1981. Businesses would rather see the Research & Development Tax Credit made permanent and strengthened â€” they argue that other countries are providing more lucrative Research & Development tax breaks.
â€śThe fact that the R&D credit was a cornerstone of the fiscal cliff package bodes well for the industry,â€ť said Kevin Richards, Senior Vice-President of Federal Government Affairs at TechAmerica, an industry group. â€śBut weâ€™re going to continue to underscore the need for permanency, because we think there is a direct correlation between U.S. competitiveness and job creation.â€ť
The federal government currently allots more than $9 billion for the Research & Development Tax Credit. It is offered for businesses in many different industries, including: software, architecture, construction, agriculture, food production, and manufacturing, amongst many others. The tax incentive is popular on both sides of the aisle and is widely seen as critical to businesses and the economy.
$150K Pitch Fest â€“Last Chance to sign up for potential fundingâ€”April 12th!
THE VAULT, the premier pitch event of the south, takes place April 25, 2013â€”and time is running out! Donâ€™t let your idea stay idle! The deadline for entry into THE VAULT is April 12, 2013.
If your idea is the Next Big Thing and is ready for the Next Big Stepâ€”you donâ€™t want to miss the opportunity to participate in THE VAULT.
If your idea has the x-factor--that thing that sets you apart from all of the competition, THE VAULT is waiting for you.
Held during INNOV8, an eight-day technology and innovation festival in Lafayette, LA THE VAULT is an open-pitch live event with approved applicants vying for at least $150,000 in pledged commitments from InventureWorksâ€™ panel of angel investors. This rapid-fire idea pitch event is designed to reward people and their big ideas with a shot at the big time: an opportunity for funding and the expertise to help bring their idea to market.
How does it all go down? Five qualifying contestants will present their product or business innovations in front of motivated investors and a cheering audience. A brief video of the product/business will precede a short live pitch followed by Q&A from the investors. If they like what they see and hear, groups will negotiate a deal on the spot!
THE VAULT is ready for you and time is running out! Apply now by downloading the free InventureKit from www.inventureworks.com/submit which contains a Mutual-NDA and Idea Application form. Fill them out and youâ€™re in the queue for review. Itâ€™s that easy. If your innovation is not protected enough to be presented publicly, please apply anyway and your product can be pitched privately
The deadline for entry into THE VAULT is April 12, 2013. Donâ€™t Miss out!
â€śTHE VAULT 2013 is happening soon, and innovators donâ€™t have much time left. Inventors, investors, growing businesses and anyone who dares to dream big is encouraged to submit their application now,â€ť says InventureWorks Chief Idea Officer Pete Prados, â€śWe still have limited space and all qualified applicants are welcome.â€ť
Investors interested in participating should contact InventureWorks Chief Idea Officer Pete Prados at 337-205-8787 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
InventureWorks, LLC, located in Lafayette Louisiana, provides resources, consultation, and partnership opportunities to anyone who dares to dream big. Visit www.inventureworks.com to learn more and download the free Inventure Kit.
You see I have been working on this quilting ruler for several months now and Iâ€™m almost there. I spent hours and hours talking to quilters over that time getting dozens of prospectives and much data on issues of size and shape and color. What I heard were a few things, most notably that the wanted bright colors!
I also learned that you donâ€™t mess with these broads, they want what they want and my job is to give it to them. So like a nice young man I went off to develop a quilting ruler in bright colors. The rulers have always been done in yellow, so I selected bright Green and Pink to complete the set. It took some doing, but I finally got the samples back in these colors and off I went to quilting class. I walked in and my little quilting harem gathered round to take a look.
Imagine my surprise when they hated them! I mean really hated them. I was befuddled at what I was hearing. After all, I had talked to many quilters who all said they loved the colors. So what gives? Why is this group telling me they hate them?
I asked that simple question â€“ The answer â€“ â€śWe love the colors Mark, we would just NEVER use themâ€ť Then they proceeded to take out about 30 pieces of fabric and lay them on a table. Slowly moving the ruler from one end of the table to the other, I was amazed as I watched the ruler â€śdisappearâ€ť about 25% of the time. A text-book case of â€śFunction hates Formâ€ť
The good news is my new found friends have no shortage of things they would like me to invent for what Iâ€™m finding out is a huge industry that is largely ignored.
So at least in the near term I guess if you need me on Tuesday or Thursday nights you can find me at the club.....The quilting club.
Maybe next week theyâ€™ll let me sew somethingâ€¦.naaaa
Do you know what California, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia have in common?
Not only are they states (for those of you who may be geographically challenged) but they are special states. In fact, they are the only eleven in the country to take the time and effort necessary to pass laws specifically designed to protect inventors.
That's right - only 21% of the fifty US states that form our country (plus the District of Columbia) have laws on their books giving additional protection to inventors. These laws range from old and outdated to strong and protective, but that's okay - at least they are laws on the books.
For inventors in states where there are no such laws it's a much worse situation. Their only protection comes from a dependency on the Federal Inventor Protection Act of 1999 - see blog article We need a new law http://inventoropinion.blogspot.com/2012/07/we-need-new-law.html - and force feeding inventor protection into standard consumer protection laws.
In a day and age when we do a great deal of business with people we never meet, from states we have never been to - It's important to remember that law applies to the state where you live. So if an inventor company sells you a bad product or service they are bound by the law in your state not necessarily in the state they are operating out of.
The matrix below shows state by state the current laws. If you don't see one in your state call the Attorney General and ask what kind of protections you enjoy and why they are not part of the eleven states that do protect inventors.