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Invention Protection Resources for 2022

The beginning of a new year is a great time to review your systems for identifying and protecting the inventions created in your organization.

Here are three invention protection resources that can help you jumpstart your invention activities in 2022.

  1. Cracking the Patent Code – My book that explains a 3-step system to identify, evaluate, and protect your most valuable inventions. This is the system I’ve developed over the past 20 years and it’s the same system I use with all of my clients.  You can purchase the book in print or Kindle format on Amazon.  Or, you can download a free PDF version of the book at
  2. Invention Triage™ Workshop – I will be offering an online workshop for Tech Startups on January 25, 2022. This workshop will focus on my Invention Triage™ process that identifies patent filing deadlines for inventions developed in your organization and teaches you systems for avoiding “accidental” forfeiting of your patent rights. The workshop will help you “Rescue” inventions that would otherwise be lost due to a 12-month patent filing deadline.  Keep watch for the registration link and more details coming soon.
  3. Invention Assessment – This is an assessment of your company’s systems for identifying and protecting your most valuable inventions. The assessment includes:

Step 1: Evaluate your current systems for identifying inventions

Step 2: Evaluate your current systems for collecting and evaluating inventions

Step 3: Invention Triage™ process (mentioned above)

Step 4: Identify changes to improve identification and disclosure of new inventions

Step 5: Develop a company-specific plan for the next 12-18 months

If you want help with an Invention Assessment or have any other questions about identifying and protecting your inventions, contact me to schedule a Free Introductory Call.

Contact me via email:


Patents In the Age of Digital Transformation

(Note: This article was originally published by Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Summit (BTOES) at

Digital transformation is accelerating the innovation process across most industries. As a result of this transformation, companies are investing significant time and money developing new products. Many of these new products contain patent-worthy inventions distinguishing them from other products in the marketplace.

Patents protect your investments of time and money spent developing new products by allowing the patent owner to stop competitors from using protected inventions.

Converging technologies are accelerating inventions in many sectors. Exponential technologies are also creating inventions at a rapid pace. Today, more than ever, it is important to quickly identify and protect critical inventions because most countries, including the United States, have “first to file” patent laws.

Based on more than 20 years of experience working with companies to protect their inventions, I have developed a 3-step process to identify, evaluate, and protect your most important inventions. This process helps you build a portfolio of patents that protect your inventions, position your business as an industry leader, and provide a competitive advantage.

  1. Identify All Inventions

Before you can think about protecting your inventions, you first need to identify them. Start by teaching your team members how to identify inventions and giving examples of inventions created in your organization. Give your team members a simple way to submit inventions for evaluation by a review committee. A simple one-page document is easy to complete and ensures that inventions aren’t lost because the inventor didn’t want to take time to fill out a long, complex form. Implement a system to track these invention submissions so nothing slips through the cracks.

Be sure to incorporate the identification of inventions into your product development process. When a new product is finished, look back at the development process and identify inventions that were created. You can also consider invention mining and brainstorming activities. Try to make the invention process fun by including invention contests and creative ideation activities.

  1. Evaluate and Prioritize Your Inventions

You can’t afford to protect every invention, and some inventions are not worth protecting, so you need to prioritize. Create an invention evaluation committee within your organization to evaluate all inventions based on criteria unique to your company (e.g., based on company goals, growth plans, status of competitors, and exit strategy).

Schedule regular invention evaluation committee meetings based on the volume of invention disclosures received. At each meeting, evaluate all new inventions and assign a next step for each evaluated invention. Record these next steps and assign follow-up tasks for each invention.

  1. Protect the Right Inventions

When building a portfolio of patents for your business, it is important to develop four different types of patents to provide a barrier to entry by competitors.

  • Core Technology. These patents protect the unique features of your fundamental technology, framework, or systems. This core technology often represents the foundation of your products that gives you a competitive edge.
  • Critical Must-Have Features. These include special features that make your product stand out in the marketplace. By protecting must-have features, you can strengthen your competitive advantage by preventing other companies from offering these features.
  • Future Inventions. Strengthen your company’s future by looking at today’s industry trends and technology trends to predict future problems. Invent solutions to those problems now so you have broad patent protection when the rest of the world catches up.
  • Defensive Patents. Your portfolio of patents should include inventions that target your most aggressive competitors. Having some strong defensive patents in your portfolio may discourage litigation by aggressive competitors because you can defend yourself by asserting your patents against the competitor.

Patents can protect the great inventions created by your team. Take action to implement the 3-step process described above to identify, evaluate, and protect your most important inventions developed during this age of digital transformation.

Do you have questions about how to identify and protect your most valuable inventions?  I can help.

Contact Me to schedule a free introductory call.

Protecting Your Critical Inventions On A Tight Budget

(Note: This article was originally published by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. at  Copyright 2021 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.)

If your business relies on inventions to maintain a competitive edge, you need to keep the invention pipeline flowing even when funds are scarce. A slow economy or other business disruption doesn’t mean you can ignore critical inventions. If you don’t take timely action to protect those inventions, you may forfeit the right to file a patent application. That means other companies can freely use your unique inventions in their own competing products.

For example, U.S. patent laws have time requirements for filing patent applications. If your company publicly discloses an invention or sells a product with the invention, those activities can trigger a one-year deadline to file a patent application covering the invention. If you don’t act before the one-year deadline, you can forfeit your ability to obtain patent protection.

Don’t let limited funds prevent you from protecting key inventions.

To get the most value from a tight budget, here is a three-step system to protect your most valuable inventions.

  1. Invention Discovery

Before you can take steps to protect your most important inventions, you first need to identify every invention developed in your organization. An important first step is teaching your team members how to identify the inventions they create. An invention is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “something that has never been made before.”

A few inventions are revolutionary new products that disrupt an industry. In my experience, most inventions are incremental improvements to an existing product or system. Although the incremental inventions may not receive as much publicity, they can still provide significant value to your company.

One way to discover inventions is to identify obstacles that were overcome during product development. In hindsight, the solutions to the obstacles may seem simple, but consider the amount of time spent developing the solution. If no solution was readily available and your team had to create a new solution, that’s likely an invention.

Review your current work activities and recently completed projects to look for inventions. What was created that had not been done before? Add these items to your list of inventions.

Automate the invention discovery process by discussing inventions during all product development projects. For example, schedule periodic meetings to brainstorm about the inventions contained in the project. It’s easier to discover inventions when the project is still fresh in the minds of the development team. Be sure to schedule a final meeting when the product is complete to look back and be sure all inventions are identified.

Schedule regular brainstorming and ideation sessions to capture more inventions and maintain a steady flow of new ideas.

Now that you have developed a list of inventions, it’s time to identify the most valuable inventions on the list.

  1. Invention Analysis

All inventions are not of equal value. That’s why it is important to analyze your list of inventions to select the most valuable items for your company. When working with a limited budget, selecting the most valuable inventions provides the best ROI (return on investment) for your organization.

When analyzing your invention list, consider multiple factors to determine the value of each invention. For example, consider the competitive advantage provided by the invention. If a “must have” feature in your product sets you apart from other companies’ products, patenting that feature is valuable because the patent may allow you to prevent competitors from using that feature. In this case, your product has exclusive rights to that feature in the marketplace.

Also consider factors such as the feasibility of implementing the invention, the likelihood of obtaining a patent, and the ability of a competitor to design around the invention. If an invention is difficult to implement, you may be better off waiting until the invention is fully developed and tested. Some categories of inventions, such as certain software-related inventions, may be difficult to patent. If funds are limited, these inventions may not be the best candidates. And, if an invention is easy for a competitor to design around, a patent covering the invention will have little value.

After analyzing the list of inventions, identify the strongest candidates for patent protection. These top priority inventions should receive your budgeted funds.

  1. Invention Protection

You have two options for protecting your inventions.

A “traditional” patent application must satisfy various rules, content requirements, formatting requirements, and legal guidelines. This type of patent application often costs $10,000-$15,000 (depending on complexity) when prepared by a patent attorney.

When working with a tight budget, you may want to consider provisional patent applications for your critical inventions. A provisional patent application must satisfy the same invention disclosure requirements as the traditional patent application, but it is much faster (and much less expensive) to prepare. Provisional patent applications also have a significantly lower filing fee. The total cost of preparing and filing a provisional patent application is often $2500-$4000.

The provisional patent application does not mature into a patent itself. Instead, it gives the applicant 12 months to decide whether to file a traditional patent application. During those 12 months, you can test the invention in the marketplace, seek investors, and see if your business revenue improves. At the end of the 12-month period, you can convert the provisional patent application into a traditional patent application or let the provisional patent application go abandoned.

In some cases, you can combine multiple inventions into a single provisional patent application to stretch your budget further. By combining multiple inventions into a single provisional patent application, you can protect several important inventions while deferring a significant portion of the patent preparation costs. Each situation is different, so discuss this option with a patent attorney to see if it’s appropriate for your inventions.

Don’t neglect your inventions just because funds are scarce. Otherwise, you risk forfeiting your ability to protect those inventions. Use the above system to identify your most valuable inventions and consider provisional patent applications to protect those critical assets.

Do you have questions about how to strengthen your IP portfolio?  I can help.

Contact Me to schedule a free introductory call to be sure you are identifying and protecting your most valuable inventions.

Your Patent Clock is Ticking: 3 Activities that Trigger Patent Filing Deadlines

(Note: This article was originally published by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. at Copyright 2021 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.)

If your business develops inventions to maintain its industry leadership, you need to understand critical deadlines that may prevent you from protecting those inventions.

There are three important activities that automatically trigger a 12-month deadline in the United States for filing a patent application to protect your invention. In most situations, if you miss this deadline, you forfeit the ability to protect the invention. This means your competitors can freely use that invention in their products because you can’t protect it with a patent.

Unfortunately, many business leaders are unaware of this deadline and inadvertently lose potential patent rights to their inventions.

Too often, I’ve had to tell company leaders, “It’s too late to protect your invention.”

This news is particularly painful if the invention relates to the company’s core technology or critical innovation. Many leaders understand that patents are important, but are unaware of the 12-month patent filing deadline.

To avoid this forfeiture of patent rights, here are the three activities that you must monitor.

  1. Public Disclosure of Your Invention

If your invention is disclosed to the public, the 12-month deadline is triggered. Public disclosure of an invention can happen through trade shows, published white papers, online articles, public announcement (and description) of the invention, online video descriptions, and any other public activity that describes the invention. If you make a public disclosure, take action to file a patent application within 12 months of the earliest disclosure. If patent application costs are a concern, a provisional patent application can satisfy the 12-month deadline.

Be sure everyone in your organization understands this 12-month deadline. If someone accidentally makes a public disclosure of an important invention, encourage them to disclose it to company leaders so they can take appropriate action.

Although the United States offers a 12-month “grace period” after a public disclosure of the invention, many other countries don’t offer any type of grace period. So, although a public disclosure in the United States can be protected within 12 months, a better practice is to file a patent application prior to any public disclosure.

  1. Sale of a Product Containing the Invention

If an individual or organization sells a product that contains an invention, that activity triggers the 12-month patent filing deadline. If you don’t file a patent application within the 12-month period you forfeit your right to file a patent application covering the invention contained in the product.

Your organization can avoid this headache by performing an “invention check” before selling a product. This includes identifying any inventions contained in a product before selling the product to a customer. I’ve worked with many companies that add an “invention check” item as part of the final product approval process. This ensures that someone considers all inventions in a product and the company can take action to file a patent application if necessary.

  1. Offer to Sell a Product Containing the Invention

Similar to the sale of a product discussed above, merely offering to sell a product can trigger the 12-month patent filing deadline. Therefore, it is important to be careful when offering a product for sale even though the product may not be delivered until a future date. Just the offer, without an actual sale, can trigger the patent filing deadline.

In some cases, the offer to sell a product that includes an invention may require that the invention be ready for patenting. To be safe, assume that any invention in a product offered for sale is ready for patenting and the 12-month deadline is triggered.

I advise clients to perform an “invention check,” discussed above regarding the sale of a product, before offering a product for sale. By performing this activity prior to offering a product for sale, it typically covers sales of the product too.

Patents that protect critical inventions are valuable business assets. Don’t accidentally forfeit your patent rights by failing to identify the activities that trigger the 12-month patent filing deadline. Add reminders for these deadlines in the product development process and in the final product approval checklist. And, review all marketing materials, publications, trade show appearances, and other public activities to be sure that any deadline created by the public disclosure is recorded and monitored.

Get your entire team involved in this process and encourage them to disclose any activities that may trigger the 12-month patent filing deadline. I recommend designating a person or group within your organization to receive and monitor these important activities.

Do you have questions about how to strengthen your IP portfolio?  I can help.

Contact Me to schedule a free introductory call to be sure you don’t forfeit any critical patent rights.

Only 12 Months to Protect Your Critical Inventions

The last thing you want to hear is, “I’m sorry, but it’s too late to patent that invention.”

I’ve had to share this bad news with far too many business leaders during the past 20 years. This is terrible news for your company, especially when a critical invention is involved.

Even worse, most of the time the problem could have easily been avoided.

The 12-Month Deadline

The United States patent laws have specific timing requirements for filing a patent application.

If a company publicly discloses an invention or sells a product containing the invention, those activities may trigger a 12-month patent application filing deadline.

In most situations, if a patent application is not filed by the 12-month deadline, the company forfeits the ability to protect the invention with a patent.

Unfortunately, many tech company leaders don’t understand these patent filing requirements.

They recognize the importance of patenting inventions, but often let the filing deadlines slip through the cracks because they aren’t aware of the 12-month deadline.

That’s when I become the bearer of bad news.

Sometimes, though, companies get “lucky.”

In one case, a company’s product was first sold almost a year before our initial meeting, but we still had a little time to get a patent application filed before the 12-month deadline. 

This was a great outcome. But if our initial meeting had been scheduled just one week later, there would be no patent for that valuable invention. The invention is critical to the company because it’s part of their core technology that is disrupting the data communication industry.

Invention TriageTM Process

Fortunately, there’s a solution to forfeiting your patent protection – and it doesn’t even require being lucky!

The solution is my Invention TriageTM process.

How does it work? By identifying inventions and determining which ones are the most urgent and need to be handled first.

For example, inventions that are approaching a 12-month deadline are the highest priority.

The Invention Triage process is particularly important when you are just starting to build a patent portfolio or it has been several months since your team identified or evaluated recent inventions.

I recently started working with a computer hardware company that already had four issued patents covering inventions developed several years ago. However, after filing the initial patent applications, the company entirely stopped focusing on protecting new inventions.

Even though several new products were developed and released during the previous two years, no thought was given to identifying and protecting inventions in those products.

Our first activity was to apply the Invention Triage process to identify and prioritize all inventions developed since filing the initial patent applications. This process yielded five important inventions that distinguish the company’s products in the marketplace. We analyzed all of the inventions and had to eliminate three from consideration because they were past the 12-month patent filing deadline.

The remaining two inventions were carefully evaluated using criteria specific to the company’s goals and priorities.

The evaluation determined that both inventions represented significant value for the company, so they decided to file patent applications for both inventions to strengthen their portfolio of patents.

Although three of the inventions were already past the 12-month deadline, the company was able to “rescue” two of the inventions. If they had waited two more months to implement the Invention Triage process, all five of the inventions would have been forfeited due to the 12-month patent filing deadline.

Act Today

You only have 12 months to protect your invention after a public disclosure or sale of a product containing the invention.

After that time has passed, your patent rights are gone.

The Invention Triage process helps you quickly identify looming 12-month deadlines and take action to protect critical inventions.

Even if you have filed some patent applications, don’t assume that you have fully protected all of your most valuable inventions. Conducting a periodic analysis uncovers critical inventions that have not been protected. 

Without this process, those inventions may slip through the cracks and end up being donated to your competitors to use freely.

Does your business need the Invention Triage process? Let’s schedule a brief 20 minute call to find out.

Contact me to schedule your Free Invention Triage evaluation call.

Record-Breaking Year: 354,507 Patents Issued in 2019

The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued over 350,000 patents in 2019.  That’s a record number of issued patents in a single year.  The following link presents a graph showing the growth of issued patents over the past decade:

As you can see from the graph, the number of issued U.S. patents has been on an upward trend since 2008.  Nearly 3 million patents were issued from 2010-2019 – significantly more than any previous decade.

This data shows that technology companies are serious about filing patent applications to protect their valuable inventions. 

Is your company actively identifying new inventions and filing patent applications to protect those inventions?  If not, 2020 is a perfect time to change that situation.

How many of the 354,507 issued patents are owned by your competitors? 

Will any of your competitors’ patents prevent you from releasing new products or launching new features?

If your competitors are protecting their inventions while you neglect your intellectual property, you may face significant problems if those competitors can restrict your product development activities.

Is 2020 your year to start building (or expanding) your patent portfolio?  I can help.

Apply for a complimentary 20 minute Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy Session where we will review your current IP situation and identify actions you can take to build or strengthen your IP protection.

How to Identify Inventions that need Protection

I’m frequently asked how to identify inventions during product development or after a new product is finished. Here are three things to consider when looking for inventions.

1. What are the key features or benefits of your new product that distinguish it from other products in the market?  For example, does your new product automate processes or provide other benefits to the user that are difficult to obtain with other products (from competitors).  What features do your customers “love” or get rave reviews?  These distinguishing features do not have to be revolutionary ideas – most inventions are incremental improvements.  For example, I recently worked with a company that automates many of the steps for printing custom documents with specialized bindings.  The individual steps have been done by other companies (manually), but my client was able to automate the process which eliminates many printing errors, saves money (fewer human hours), and speeds up the process (by eliminating human delays).  This automation of document printing systems can be patented.

2. What obstacles/problems have you encountered when developing your new product?  Often, the solutions to those obstacles/problems are inventions.  If there was a simple solution, it would likely have been easy to find.  If there isn’t an off-the-shelf solution, then you may have an invention that can be protected with a patent.

3. What new services or activities are made possible by your new product (that were not previously available or not possible)?  Does your system create new types of activities that were never offered before?  For example, if you automate several processes, what new activities or categories of services are now available?  In the printing example I mentioned above, the company is using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to optimize the layout, organization and binding of each print project.  The AI algorithms allow the system to learn from previous print projects and continually improve.  This type of detailed analysis and data tracking was not feasible for humans to handle (too much data to analyze manually), so AI is creating a new category of printing service. These types of inventions should be evaluated for patent protection.

Keep these three topics in mind as you develop new projects and set aside time after a project is finished to identify critical inventions in that project. These inventions are valuable and may give you a competitive advantage with your new product.

Do you have questions about how to protect your inventions?  I can help.

Apply for a complimentary Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy Session where we will review your current IP situation and identify actions you can take to build or strengthen your IP protection.

3 Tips to Protect Your Intellectual Property in 2020

A strong intellectual property (IP) portfolio is critical for technology companies, which rely on inventions to survive.  Without a robust IP portfolio, your company is exposed to risks from new competitors that can freely copy your unprotected inventions.  And, lack of a strong IP portfolio may increase the likelihood of patent litigation by aggressive competitors and may hinder attempts to attract investors who demand valuable IP assets.

Strong and secure IP portfolios don’t just happen.  They’re built.

These portfolios are built on purpose by strategically adding high-value inventions.  If you need to start building or expanding your IP portfolio, here are three steps to get started.

1. Protect the Right Inventions.  A valuable IP portfolio includes patents covering core technology as well as future ideas and inventions that are important to competitors.  Use specific criteria to evaluate inventions based on current business value, feasibility and lifetime value.  Action Step:  Review your current IP portfolio to be sure all of your core technology has been protected.

2. Use Provisional Patent Applications to Quickly Protect Inventions.  Establishing early filing dates for your inventions is important in the United States.  Provisional patent applications provide fast and cost-effective protection for important inventions.  Action Step:  Identify the most important new inventions your team has developed and quickly file provisional patent applications covering those inventions.

3. Watch Out for Public Disclosure.  Implement systems to identify important inventions so you can secure your patent rights prior to public disclosure, such as trade shows, white paper publications and press releases.  Action Step:  Identify upcoming public events and be sure you have protected any inventions being disclosed publicly.  If necessary, protect those inventions quickly using a provisional patent application.

Do you have questions about how to strengthen your IP portfolio?  I can help.

Apply for a complimentary IP Strategy Session where we will:

  • Review your current IP situation
  • Explore your business goals, such as obtaining investments, attracting critical employees, expanding your product offerings and increasing your market presence
  • Identify your best “next step” to build or strengthen your IP portfolio

Apply for your complimentary IP Strategy Session at

A Fast Way to Achieve “Patent Pending” Status

“Patent Pending” is a designation used to indicate that a patent application has been submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for an invention. Using the “Patent Pending” designation on your product, and marketing materials associated with the product, may discourage competitors from copying your product.

A new patent application typically remains confidential for 18 months after the filing date. During this period of confidentiality, the “Patent Pending” designation is particularly valuable because competitors cannot determine any details regarding the invention. They know you have submitted a patent application, but don’t know what it covers or whether they can avoid patent infringement.

Additionally, the “Patent Pending” notice can be a valuable marketing tool because it will cause some customers to perceive your product and company as an innovative leader in your marketplace.

Before applying a “Patent Pending” designation to your product, you must have a pending patent application with the USPTO and an assigned serial number. This can be accomplished by filing a provisional patent application (PPA) or a “traditional” non-provisional patent application. You can continue to use the “Patent Pending” designation as long as the application remains pending in the USPTO and has not been abandoned or issued as a patent.

In most situations, the fastest way to achieve “Patent Pending” status is by filing a PPA, which provides a fast and cost-effective tool to establish a filing date in the USPTO and receive a serial number. A PPA has fewer requirements and is much simpler to prepare, saving time and money. Additionally, the USPTO filing fees for a PPA are considerably less than a traditional patent application.

Other important advantages of filing a PPA include establishing a filing date for your invention with the USPTO and giving yourself 12 months to continue developing the invention and testing it in the marketplace.

If you file a PPA to get “Patent Pending” status, remember that a PPA expires after 12 months. If you don’t file a traditional patent application (or file another PPA) at the end of the 12 months, you no longer have “Patent Pending” status and you must remove that designation from your product, marketing materials, etc.

If you want to use the “Patent Pending” designation on your product and, at the same time, establish a filing date for your invention, a provisional patent application is a fast and cost-efficient tool to accomplish both.

Ready to learn how to protect your own inventions? Get details about the Invention Protection Blueprint course at

Most Common Mistake In Provisional Patent Applications

A provisional patent application (PPA) is a fast and cost-effective tool to protect your valuable inventions.  A PPA establishes a filing date for your invention in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and provides 12 months to decide whether to file a “traditional” non-provisional patent application.  During those 12 months, you can continue to develop the invention, test the commercial value of the invention, and seek investors, business partners, and licensing opportunities.

As an intellectual property attorney, I have written hundreds of PPAs and reviewed more than 1000 PPA documents.  Based on this work, I have discovered the most common mistake when preparing PPAs.

Inadequate description.

Although a PPA is a valuable tool, it must meet certain requirements to be valid.  For example, a PPA must have the same level of written description as a “traditional” patent application.  The written description of a PPA (including the drawings) must teach someone who is skilled in the relevant technology to make and use the invention.

I’ve seen many PPA applicants submit marketing brochures and lists of invention benefits without any description of how the invention is implemented.  These applications are not valid and will not be given the benefit of the PPA filing date.

Failing to satisfy the written description requirement provides a false sense of security.

Although a PPA was filed, the USPTO will not recognize the filing date of the PPA if it has an inadequate description.  Unfortunately, the inventor may be disclosing the invention publicly during the 12 months after filing the PPA, falsely believing that they have protected the invention.  In some situations, this public disclosure of the invention may prevent them from obtaining a patent on their invention.

When preparing a PPA, focus on a strong written description that explains the benefits of the invention as well as specific details regarding how to make and use the invention.  I recommend using drawings that complement the written description.  Often, the drawings can help illustrate features of the invention better than relying exclusively on a written description.

Avoid this common PPA mistake to ensure you have a valid application that provides the protection you require.

Ready to learn how to protect your own inventions? Get details about the Invention Protection Blueprint course at

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