Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

$3.5M Intellectual Property Mistake by the U.S. Postal Service

Even big companies can make intellectual property blunders!

Although I’m going to discuss a costly mistake by the U.S. Postal Service, similar mistakes are made by hundreds (probably thousands) of businesses every day!

In previous articles, I have discussed the importance of using images that you have obtained the right to use. This advice applies to everyone, from solo entrepreneurs to the largest companies in the world.

When designing a new stamp several years ago, the U.S. Postal Service used an image on a stamp that they did not have permission to use. That mistake resulted in a $3.5 Million judgment against the U.S. Postal Service.Continue reading

Stop Putting your Most Valuable Assets at Risk

If you’re like most people, you are failing to protect a critical business asset – your intellectual property.

I know what you are thinking, “I’m not in the technology industry, so my business does not have any intellectual property.”

That’s a common, but incorrect, assumption!

When you think of intellectual property, you may envision technology companies and the latest life-changing inventions discussed in the news. That’s perfectly normal!

But, I get puzzled looks when I tell people that entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, thought leaders, coaches, consultants, and all other types of business leaders create intellectual property in the day-to-day operation of their business.

Yes, it’s true!

Every business that’s been in operation for at least a few weeks has created intellectual property.Continue reading

Are you Accidentally Infringing the Intellectual Property Rights of Others?

You’ve probably heard stories about people receiving nasty letters from attorneys representing copyright owners – where the letters are asserting copyright infringement.  Maybe you received one of these letters yourself!

If you’re worried about the images (and other content) you use in your business and don’t want to receive one of those nasty letters, this article will show you how to safely use images and other content on your website and throughout your business.

If you use a copyrighted image without permission, that’s copyright infringement even if it’s “accidental” (you didn’t know the image was protected by a copyright).

Many of the letters I’ve seen for infringing the copyrights associated with photos “invite” the recipient of the letter to pay $2000-3000 to settle the dispute.  Although you may negotiate a lesser amount, it’s a headache and a disruption to your business.Continue reading

Intellectual Property Protection for Entrepreneurs

Yes, your business has intellectual property assets!  If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, author, speaker, or thought leader, you generate intellectual property from your day-to-day business activities.  It’s not just technology companies that need to protect their intellectual property – you do too.

Intellectual property is commonly defined as a “creation of the mind.”  Your intellectual property assets include ideas, inventions, creative works, and innovative thoughts.  For example, you may have created articles, drawings, website content, audio recordings and video recordings that represent your intellectual property.  And, you may have developed a company logo, product name, or other brand identifier that are intellectual property assets of your business.  Your intellectual property also includes inventions and trade secrets associated with your business.

The following activities will start you on a path to protecting your most important intellectual property.

Discover Your Intellectual Property Assets

Now that you have a basic definition of intellectual property, look for those assets that you have already created.  Evaluate your business frameworks, documentation, product names, inventions and other business creations to generate a list of your intellectual property.  Identify original creative works that were generated from your own ideas or the ideas of your team members.Continue reading

3 of My Favorite Business Books – Have You Read Any of These?

James Altucher once said, “Read every book, blog, website, whatever about what you want to be an expert in.”

When I got my start in the business world, books became some of my best friends. They spoke to me in ways mere humans could not, they were a constant companion when there was no one on the other end of the phone to call, they were there in hotel rooms and on airplanes.

These are some of my recent favorites – so whether you’re looking for a fresh source of inspiration, education, or just plain entertainment, consider checking these out. There are lots of great titles out there, but these have been really meaningful to me.

Book 1: The Introvert’s Edge

This book explains that selling is a skill anyone can learn and master—and introverts are especially good at it once they learn how to leverage their natural strengths. Although the book discusses sales, the systems and principles are useful in any situation. As an introvert myself, I found this book highly useful and I’m applying the systems in my own life.

One of my favorite quotes from this book is:Continue reading

How are you Celebrating World Creativity and Innovation Week?

Did you forget about this important event?

Maybe you’ve never even heard of World Creativity and Innovation Week? If so, you’re not alone 🙂

It’s a real event and celebrates creative thinking and innovation throughout the world.

So, now that you know about World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15-21), here are some ideas for creative activities:

1. Exercise your creativity in a new environment. Get out of your home or office and go to a new place – a new store, coffee shop, park or hiking trail. Spend time in this new environment doing some creative thinking. Consider solutions to a problem you are facing at home or at work, think about new ideas for your business or think about how to improve the lives of others.Continue reading

21 Day Innovation Challenge

Welcome to the 21 Day Innovation Challenge.  Each day I will provide one small tip or action step you can take to help you start incorporating innovation into your business.  As we go on this 21 day journey, you will learn a system for developing innovative ideas, protecting those ideas, and using the innovations to grow your business.  If you follow the daily activities, you will be surprised at the ideas you discover over the next 21 days and maybe even realize that you are more creative than you thought!

These activities are perfect for solo entrepreneurs, contractors, and employees.  Everyone can benefit from a boost in creativity!

This blog post will be updated each day during the 21 Day Innovation Challenge.  If you miss a day, you can always catch up the next day.

You can access this article at the same link every day:

There’s no cost to participate in the challenge.  I encourage you to invite your friends and co-workers.

Please leave comments below to share your insights and experiences.  Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments – I will personally answer all questions.

OK, let’s get started….

Day 1

For Day 1, I have two simple activities for you.  These activities are important to set the foundation for the following 20 days.  Here are your Day 1 activities:Continue reading

Reduce Business Expenses by Analyzing Business Procedures

An Innovation Strategy provides many opportunities to reduce your company’s expenses. Properly managed innovation can streamline internal procedures, enhance the product development process, and simplify manufacturing operations, all of which can reduce business costs.

Innovating internal procedures includes managing the flow of information and documents throughout the company, and managing the handling and prioritizing of internal tasks. In some situations, innovating an internal procedure eliminates several steps or bottlenecks in the existing procedures. The streamlining of manufacturing and development procedures can accelerate the manufacturing or development process, which results in a cost savings to the business.

When evaluating a business procedure, look for steps in the procedure that are not necessary, and eliminate those steps.  I have worked with several clients that were preforming internal procedures that were unnecessary.  When asked why they were performing the procedures, a common answer was “That’s the way we’ve always done things.”  Use your own creativity and the innovative ideas of company employees to evaluate all business procedures, looking for ways to simplify or eliminate the procedure.

When analyzing a business procedure, look for alternate ways to perform particular steps and ways to automate portions of the procedure. Additionally, look for approaches to consolidating multiple procedures into a single activity or performing multiple steps simultaneously to save time and resources.

By simplifying or eliminating certain internal business procedures, you can reduce business costs by requiring fewer resources to perform the procedure and reducing the time required to complete the procedure. Analyze your internal business procedures on a regular basis to continually find new ways to streamline those procedures.

Innovative Thinking – Do Light Bulbs Make A Difference?

Many factors can affect your ability to innovate and think creatively.  Location, noise/activity level, and time of day all have an influence on your innovative thinking.  An article in Fast Company suggests that the image of a conventional light bulb (an incandescent bulb) improves a viewer’s insight and creative thinking.  Click here to read the full article in Fast Company.

The light bulb is used regularly as an indicator of creative ideas and innovations.  However, this article (and the related study) suggests that surrounding yourself with innovative objects or symbols – such as the conventional light bulb – improves creativity.  This study compared the performance of participants who viewed a conventional light bulb as compared to those who viewed an overhead fluorescent light.

The results of the study are based on the presence of the light bulb, not the actual light emitted by the bulb.  The bulb itself can be disconnected from an electrical socket and still have a positive influence on a person’s thinking ability.  The “power” of the conventional light bulb appears to be its symbolic value as an indicator of innovation and creative thinking.

What other symbols come to mind when you think of Innovation?

Steve Sponseller is an Intellectual Property Attorney and Innovation Strategist. He has 25 years of experience helping more than 1000 inventors and business leaders identify, develop, and protect innovative ideas. Get a complimentary copy of his Innovation Strategy Checklist to start creating a steady stream of innovative ideas that give your company a competitive advantage.


3 Ways To Boost Your Creativity Today

Everyone knows that you need to apply creativity to your business to make it succeed. This creative effort has a clear end in mind – to develop innovative products or streamline your business processes to increase profits. But, what can you do when you are just not feeling creative? Here are three great ways to give your creativity an instant boost.

1. Take Pictures

A fantastic way to get your creativity flowing is to grab a camera or your smartphone and take some pictures. It’s an easy way to create something no matter where you are located. You can take pictures at home, at work, or anywhere.

To make it more fun and creatively stimulating, pick something as a theme. A good theme is to choose a color and look for things to snap that are that color. Another idea is to pick Continue reading