Protecting IP


I Have An Invention: Now What?

Intellectual Property (IP)

Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware

Lots of people have great ideas that, if they could only get funding, or find that generous person to take on their project to make millions of dollars, then retire to the Pacific North West and live "happily ever after" until they are blown to Hell by a volcano!

How many people have you met that echo what my Uncle Joe once said : "You know Ollie, (reminiscing to the 1920's sitting on his front porch), we could put a water pump and reservoir under the hood, and have sprayers on the hood (of that car) that squirted soapy water to wash the windshield. . ." Then looking around the table and saying, "We had all kinds of ideas and didn't do anything about them, oh well."

If you have an idea, and have made and tested it (PTO-ese: Reduced to Practice), then you need to act on it. There is no more bitter grief than that born of regret.

The trouble is, and this is my number-one guiding belief that keeps me, as a scientist and engineer, from going stark raving mad:

You can do everything right and still not succeed.


In the early 1990's I had invented a rear-vision system for large vehicles that excited the trucking industry. It is called Retrospex. Up to that point, all rear-vision systems had the TV monitor on the dashboard. For cars this location was okay because folks are used to looking for a rear-view mirror in the middle of the windscreen. In a truck, you would see the back of the cab.

The innovation with Retrospex is the placement of a video monitor means within the operator's left, outside, rear-view mirror. While looking along the truck's left side, the operator also saw what was happening behind the vehicle, light or night.

We seemingly did everything right:

Everything except the last item. He had plans for our product that did not include the owners of the IP, the Board or the Shareholders. By the time we figured it out, our venture capital was gone and we were dead.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! I'd do a lot of things differently, but that's for another venue. My point with this rambling is "don't give up, but it also takes a lot of work!"

There are a lot of people and firms that are more than willing to help you out with your invention, only trouble is, if it is a real potential money-maker, they will run with it; as fast and as far as they can from you all the way to their bank!

Let's get back to talking about IP and some things you can do to protect yourself from the IP Wolves.

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