This week in The Winning Zone, Devin Miller, CEO of Miller IP Law, joins Hilmon Sorey to answer all of our questions about intellectual property and how to go about protecting it as a means to help build and scale your business.
What is Intellectual Property (IP)?
Devin explains that IP is an umbrella term that includes patents, trademarks, and copyrights. At its core, it is to protect something that is intellectual property. It is something that is not tangible or is much less tangible, than real property, which is why patents, trademarks, and copyrights fit under its umbrella. These things may not be tangible but are still very valuable. Continue listening at 01:01 to learn more.
What Should be Protected?
In Devin’s opinion, from a business perspective, everything is worth protecting so long as budgets allow. However, to be more specific and prioritize from the standpoint of a new business, the best question to ask yourself is “What is the core value of the business?” This will help guide you into what is most important to protect under the umbrella of IP within your business. Are you an innovative business creating new products all the time? Then focusing on protection through patents is where you want to be. Or, are you really great at sales and branding? Then at your core, you will want to protect your brand with a trademark. Learn more at 04:14.
What Are Investors Looking For?
While this is a complicated answer that depends on the investor, Devin explains that what the average investor is looking for, outside of IP, is a strong team that has a high likelihood of success with good experience. Inside of IP, when a startup doesn’t even have the money for patents and trademarks yet, investors are looking for whether or not a plan and a strategy exist. Furthermore, within IP, if you do have a little money, investors are going to want to see that you have something that you have protected that is proprietary. For more information on what investors are looking for within IP in a startup continue listening at 10:21.
At 14:58 Devin tells us that even with 10 million + patents in the US, he continues to be blown away with the things that people can come up with. Some ideas are simple, and some are things that he can’t believe were even thought of. He believes this continued increase in innovation is driven, a lot of the time, by the potential profit there is to be made with coming up with a creation and starting a business. People feel that this is what will lead them to the life they dream of living. Continue listening to learn more.
A Unique Country
Devin explains that the US patent system was established at the founding of the country. It has been ingrained in us to want to have our own ideas and create new things. This individualistic approach, coupled with capitalism and the American Dream has culminated in the success of the patent system/IP and the continued drive to create and own ideas, which is what sets the US apart from most other countries. Learn more about what Devin has to say about this at 16:45.
Why We Protect IP
People spend a lot of time, money, and research to develop something that no one else has come up with before. If they take their new product to market and someone else figures out how they created that product and then decides to just do it themselves, that will inhibit people from spending time and money to develop anything because it’s no longer theirs. This is what will inhibit innovation, which is why we need the ability to protect our intellectual property. Learn more at 20:04.
At 25:53 Devin shares some very general stories about the variety of people that come to him wanting to patent their ideas. He talks about having to turn them away for various reasons, but he also discusses why he no longer tells people there’s no way he can get them a patent, unless the person is trying to rip off another product. Continue listening to hear these stories.
Creativity with Patents
Devin explains that he is happy to give people thoughts on their inventions and ideas, but he is not going to do the inventing for them. He will dig deep and work to help people describe their ideas in detail, especially the parts of it that are more intuitive and obvious. He will also work to nail down how to describe the interesting and different points of the invention or idea and how to illustrate them for the sake of the patent. But again, he is not the inventor. Listen at 31:14 to learn more.
Devin is open to speak with anyone who has any questions regarding IP, especially those people form startups and small businesses. He offers a free 15-minute strategy meeting that can be scheduled via strategymeeting.com. He can also be reached via LinkedIn at meetmiller.com, or you can check out his website at lawwithmiller.com to learn more about everything they do at Miller IP Law.
01:01 What is Intellectual Property (IP)?
04:14 What Should be Protected?
10:21 What Are Investors Looking For?
16:45 A Unique Country
20:04 Why We Protect IP
25:53 Sharing Stories
31:14 Creativity with Patents