Can I Give My Dad a “Spiritual” Patent for His Courageous Will to Survive a near Death Experience?

What A Middle-Aged Patent Attorney Learned from his Father this Year

It’s been said that life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.


When I recently took the stage at our ribbon cutting event to celebrate the opening of our new headquarters, few in the audience that day realized how much that word meant to me personally as I scanned the crowd to lock eyes with my 79-year-old dad.

Literally 12 months earlier, the life had almost been sucked out of his body, shrinking my universe into a tiny dot that radiated fear and uncertainty into our close-knit family.

From that dark place courage and miracles crossed paths as my dad fought to reclaim his former life.

His actions taught me new lessons on how to turn tragedies into triumphs.

As I turned to hand out Innovation Awards to three of my clients at the ribbon cutting ceremony, the horrific events of the year before flashed through my mind.

Ribbon Cutting Event For Inventors

Dad was going for a walk a couple blocks from home when an SUV ran a red light, hit another car, and then spun out of control and hit my Dad while traveling approximately forty miles per hour.   

Just as she realized it was my Dad, she witnessed the accident.

She is an angel who jumped out of her car and dialed 911. 

She told my Dad who she was and stayed with him while he lay bleeding on the concrete until the ambulance arrived.

Through nothing less than a miracle, an ER surgeon happened to be there and yelled for nobody to touch him since he was an ER doctor. He didn’t want a layperson to displace anything or risk causing further injury.

Considering the amount of blood, they were surprised to find a pulse. This doctor kept the massive bleeding under control and kept my Dad’s airway open.

Nobody expected him to make it until the ambulance arrived.  

He made it to the hospital alive which nobody expected, and hospital staff had to cut him out of his clothes. 

He was found to have suffered six broken ribs, a fractured skull, broken nose, multiple hemorrhages throughout his body, and he was vomiting blood.

In that instant my life froze.  

Whatever grand notions I harbored about growing my patent law firm vaporized.   I had spent two decades building my reputation as a top national patent attorney, taking risks along the way that were fueled by the lessons I had learned from my dad.  

At the age of 49, I thought he had already taught me everything I needed to know in life, but I was wrong.  

His greatest lesson unfolded that day in the hospital operating room and changed the trajectory of my personal and professional  life forever.

Over the next couple of weeks, I witnessed an incredible recovery as he surprised the doctors and nurses and pulled through. 

My father demonstrated a raw mental toughness that I have never seen in another man. 

Strength beyond words.

I cannot help but think about the lessons I have learned from watching him, both in triumph and adversity. He has taught me what it means to be resilient, strong, and patient, lessons I have worked to emulate and pass on in both my personal and professional lives.

His courageous grit to live, laugh and put a near death experience behind him, has given me a renewed personal interest in the journeys of my clients who came to me to patent, trademark and copyright their ideas. 


In fact, his comeback was the impetus for conceiving the Innovation Awards that I handed out to my inventing clients: Troy Faletra, Donal P. Inman and Alex Gomez. 

Troy Faletra, Inventor.

Donal P. Inman, Inventor

Alex Gomez, Inventor

In particular, Troy shared something in common with my dad: he also nearly  lost his life at sea while boating, using that experience to patent and engineer the groundbreaking marine device, ThrowRaft®.  

Man of Steel

To me, my dad is the original Man of Steel, no matter what DC Comics says on the matter.  I couldn’t have imagined it was possible to admire, respect or love him more than I did.

I am not saying

When I needed him to be a best friend, he became one. 

When I needed him to be a supporter, he became one. 

When I needed him to be a disciplinarian, he became one. When I needed a leader, he became one, and when I needed him to follow and quietly watch as I grew my wings, he did that too. 

Doctors would ask him he needs pain meds and he would refuse. He’s always believed that pain meds are for maintaining the status quo, and he didn’t just want to pull through, but genuinely get better. 

When I get a pizza burn in my mouth from hot cheese, the pain annoys me….and yet here was this lion of a man, beaten to within an inch of his life and yet he was in the ICU, laughing and trying to cheer us up, making jokes, and carrying on as if nothing has happened.

Doctors would ask him he needs pain meds and he would refuse. He’s always believed that pain meds are for maintaining the status quo, and he didn’t just want to pull through, but genuinely get better. 

When I get a pizza burn in my mouth from hot cheese, the pain annoys me….and yet here was this lion of a man, beaten to within an inch of his life and yet he was in the ICU, laughing and trying to cheer us up, making jokes, and carrying on as if nothing has happened.

Below is a recent video of him showing off on how far along he has come from when he was in the ER and not expected to make it through the night.

However, when a 78-year-old man is hit by a vehicle going forty mph and survives, it is not a “recovery” as much as it is a miracle. 

He has a lot of rehab and recovery ahead of him, but he has pulled through. 

He is a fighter. 

A survivor. 

A man of faith and with nerves of steel.

The driver of the SUV that ran the red light was drunk and had a blood alcohol level three times the legal intoxication limit.

Not Even Financial Devastation and the Loss of his Construction Company Due to the Accident Could Destroy Dad’s Spirit

To make matters worse, the insurance policy from the driver that hit my Dad only had a $10k limit, which didn’t even scratch the surface of what this accident has cost my father. 

He is upside down in medical bills and other expenses and has lost his entire life’s savings.

Due to the accident, this past year heralded the demise of the construction company that he built up over his entire lifetime, leaving him with several incomplete houses, angry sub-contractors, and straining relationships with suppliers and vendors that he had spent a lifetime building up.

But you wouldn’t know any of this speaking with him. 

He feels blessed to be alive and is happy and cheerful. Instead of us having to uplift his spirits, he is the one that still lights up the room with his positivity and his laughter and cheer.

 In his lifetime, my Dad has done so much good for so many people that I believe him surviving is nothing short of a miracle from God.

His strength is my strength. He has taught me how to live by showing me how to live.  

He has shown me the true raw definition of courage that until recently I only partially understood or experienced through discussions with my client and friend, Troy, mentioned further above.

In fact, when I wrote my bestselling book, Escaping The Gray: Why Pursuing Your Idea Full Throttle Is The Only Option it was inspired by Troy’s tale of survival at sea, an extraordinary tale of bravery and courage.

My dad’s ability to get up and fight for every inch of his health and family’s preservation may well inspire me to write a sequel or companion piece to the book above.

I would love to call it “A Case Study in Patenting Courage: A Survivor’s Guide To Thriving In Life & Passing These Lessons On To His Son.”

Like every son, I believe my dad is the greatest inventor on Earth, even it pertains to more spiritual and metaphorical concepts like courage, perseverance and humility. These human attributes  fall far beyond the mortal pale of the United States Patent Office (USPTO).

As we enter into the new year and I reflect on the year we are leaving behind, it’s perhaps natural to think farther back, to our childhood and our first fumbling steps into the adult world. 

I can honestly say that had my father not been everything he is, I would not be the man I am today.

I would never have had the courage to chase my dream of being a patent attorney or commit the ultimate social and professional faux pas for a young attorney of daring suggest to the hiring manager of an elite law firm that the hiring committee made a mistake. 

I wouldn’t have dared to gamble my family’s security on my dream of running my own law firm. 

I certainly wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, ethically or morally, when I told my discouraged clients that their rejected application for a patent was only an opportunity to do a little better!

John Rizvi at Inventor Society of South Florida

The ability to dare mighty things is a framework for success that I have discussed in scores of events across the United States, including the Inventors Society of Florida (ISSF) where the word “courage” came up several times during my keynote address to inventors.

I believe my talk that day would have been even more relevant and powerful to that room full of inventors if I could have shared my dad’s survivor tale.  I cannot believe how much I have accomplished in the last 12 months simply by elevating my goals and actions based on the way he approached his ordeal.  

I believe my clients can achieve their own goals if they can conquer their fears of the unknown and go full throttle in getting their ideas commercialized.

As I look back over this year, I’m deeply grateful for all the good things which have come from my dad’s experience—and humbled by the power and understated grace with which my father handled a situation beneath whose sheer weight most people would understandably. 

He’s doing better, although he still has a long road back.


My dad is a fighter, a survivor and role model to me; he is the biggest reason I could engineer a move into a new 10,000 square foot headquarters that houses fearless team of former patent examiners, patent illustrators, engineers and prototype experts. 

We are all highly motivated to helping innovators leverage the First to File inventing system to get their ideas fast-tracked through the United States Patent Office (USPTO). 


In fact, the word “fearless” now  features in every initiative my law firm undertakes, because if my father can bounce back from such adversity then my team should be able to hurdle any obstacle that hinders an inventor’s success in getting his idea across the finish line. 

As Troy’s journey showed us further above, there are often life and death circumstances that lead to the formation of a new ideas. The commercialization of these ideas is fueled by the inventor’s passion to help save the lives of others.   

I owe it to my dad and clients like Troy, to courageously battle on their behalf and help them overcome their own personal obstacles to patenting & profiting from their invention. 

My new patent headquarters will help me in this pursuit, reflecting two decades of effort that were motivated by the character and teachings of my dad who materially lost everything but never gave up on his will to live and stay positive.  

And we’re looking forward to celebrating the New Year as a family—the way it should be.  


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