Inventor, You Have 99 Problems
But Patents Ain't One Of Them!
Our New Patent Attorney Offices Are Now Officially Open!
My recent ribbon-cutting event offered me an opportunity to present Innovation Awards to three of my clients.
These awards honored 3 particularly brave inventors that I helped successfully win their patent.
I admire them deeply because of the fierce belief and passion they put behind their ideas to bring them to market. The products they invented have resulted in sales of over $150 million and completely changes their respective industries.
I’ll tell you more about their ideas later but first I would like to explain the rap that I performed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating my firm’s new 10,000 square foot headquarters.
A Block Party For Inventors
While rap music began life in the block parties of New York in the 1970s, it found new expression in a rhyme I rapped to a crowd of inventors, clients, friends, – and, yes, even the mayor of Coral Springs – who attended the recent celebration of my law firm’s new 10,000 square foot headquarters.
While it may seem incongruous for a practicing two-decade patent attorney, law school professor, and best-selling book author on patents to “bust some rhymes” on perhaps the biggest moment in his intellectual property career, it reflects my sincere desire to take risks and dare mighty things when it comes to championing the merits of patenting small ideas and leaving the comfort zone of a nine-to-five job to commercialize an invention.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was thus my “block party” for “garage inventors”, designed to show the world how my fearless team of former patent examiners, patent illustrators, engineers and prototype experts are helping innovators leverage the First to File inventing system to get their ideas fast tracked through the United States Patent Office (USPTO).
As I took the stage to address the crowd before me, I happened to glance up at our newly minted logo and signage “John Rizvi, P.A. - The Patent Professor®” that was stamped high above me into the front architecture of my office building.
It filled me with renewed courage, pride and optimism for the future, as I recalled my decision over 20 years ago, to leave the most prestigious law firm on the planet, Fish & Neave, to take a risk and go out on my own to work with early stage inventors.
Walking away from the law firm’s plush headquarters in New York City (and a six-figure income) into a make-shift office in my parent’s garage was one of the scariest and most exhilarating moments of my life.
Championing "The Average Joe"
The firm was an iconic name in intellectual property law. Besides representing Thomas Edison, Alexander Bell, and countless other famous American inventors, it was also renowned for winning a $1 billion patent lawsuit against Kodak.
Over time this famous institution became more bureaucratic, less agile and far removed from the “Average Joes” or everyday Americans who yearn to pursue their patented ideas full throttle, in an effort to profit from them and leave the security of their day jobs.
What Fish & Neave intrinsically failed to grasp was that millions of working Americans were constantly coming up with new ways and ideas to solve small, annoying problems that plagued our everyday existence.
Small Ideas Have Power
The problem, I realized, was that many of these inventors were too afraid to move forward with patenting and profiting from their idea because they felt it was too small and too inconsequential to impact the marketplace. This belief was reinforced by well-meaning friends and family who threw shade on their idea saying, “it will never work - no one will EVER buy this!”
I also noticed that most people I came across in my personal life showed a fear of big business. Nearly all of them exhibited an inferiority complex that suggested corporate America would crush them if they ever attempted to commercialize their idea(s) and extract licensing fees from established corporations for their invention(s).
The final nail in the coffin was the complexity and intricacies of the patent filing system itself. The majority of self-filing (or D.I.Y.) submissions by inventors are ultimately rejected by USPTO examiners.
Indeed, they were notorious for picking up the slightest error or ambiguity in the application and sending it back to the applicant.
This often resulted in good ideas from individual inventors withering on the vine and going nowhere.
As I digested these roadblocks for ordinary, everyday inventors, I realized how large corporate patent law firms had a stronghold on patenting expertise and were focusing exclusively on large corporations and their fat intellectual property portfolios.
With the full backing of my wife Saba, I walked out onto the Avenue of the America’s in New York City that day determined to make my own dent in the Universe.
"My dream was to work with inventors like Steve Jobs BEFORE they became famous and built empires based upon inspired and beautiful products. "
The nuances, fears, excitement, and indeed humor of this decision, are covered in another article I recently wrote entitled “Stop Freaking Emailing Me” Career Suicide For a Patent Attorney – Or Does It?”
Ironically, that legendary law firm no longer exists, its trademarked name now consigned to the scrap heap of history as little more than a historic footnote.
My small struggling law firm, on the other hand, has grown beyond my wildest expectations and has helped hundreds of inventors with their transformative ideas.
My decision to align myself directly with inventors instead of corporate bureaucrats has made all of the difference. These entrepreneurs – the true problem solvers of America that drive our economy forward – allow my firm to fully capitalize on a new era of innovation in what I call the Golden Age of Inventing.
My twenty-year journey through patent law found its focus and resolve in a tiny spare bedroom of my parent’s home.
It synergistically linked me in spirit, passion and creativity to my growing list of clients who also started life in their own spare bedrooms (or the iconic “garages”) across America.
As they prospered so did I. Together we turned our make-shift offices into ventures that employ talented and committed souls determined to give new ideas substance and vitality, armed with intellectual property protection and marketplace “teeth”.
In fact, three of those brave inventing souls were at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that day, including Troy Faletra, who narrowly escaped a drowning at sea.
Troy used the experience to patent and build a throwable self-inflating life raft, ThrowRaft, the first ever to be approved by the U.S. Coastguard.
While today his product is sold in stores like Walmart, it was not an easy journey. There were dark moments, technical obstacles, and of course the agony of self-doubt to overcome on his journey to success.
When he first approached me for intellectual property protection, he still had a mountain to climb. We fast became confidants and friends as I helped him secure several international patents. I watched him scale his own Everest to win acclaim and fortune for ThrowRaft®, including the Miami Boat Show Innovation Award last year.
His journey inspired me write my first Amazon best seller, When Launching Your Idea Full Throttle Is the Only Option, pulling further into the orbit of independent inventors building enviable brands like ThrowRaft®.
Troy’s invention indeed had marketplace “teeth” much like another idea that has iconic status at my firm, The Inman Aligner®. It’s not a hyperbole to say that this marvelous invention shook up a 100-year old industry, redefining the way dentists straighten teeth for young and old alike.
Winning Don Inman’s iconic first patent for him has been one of the proudest moments of my career. Over the years, Don would pursue several other new ideas and become a leader in orthodontic innovation that continues to this very day.
Both of these gentlemen are mavericks and outsiders to the traditional lanes of corporate America that typically define our nation. They represent the blueprint for the next generation of inventors that use patents to launch their brands in The Golden Age of Inventing. They are fearless and passionate and understand that if an idea is good, somebody is going to try to steal it.
Their masterstroke was placing as much faith and value in the underlying patents as they do in the technical and commercial aspects of building their product lines.
In fact, it’s not an understatement to say that the patents themselves may potentially be worth millions. Just ask another client of mine, Alex Gomez who walked through my door years ago as a broke medical student.
While still a struggling young medical student, Alex could not believe how surgeons were using a peculiar, archaic method to keep the camera lens on laparoscopic devices clear in chilly operating rooms. They would dip the tool in a warm bucket of water to clear the lens before re-inserting the device back into warm bodies on the operating table.
“John, my surgical defogging device will revolutionize how surgical lenses are cleaned in hospital operating rooms, but I need you to help me protect my idea,” he pleaded.
This was a challenging assignment since the crowded medical device arena (along with software) is one of the most complex divisions of U.S. patent law. One tiny error in the patent application, including an ambiguous statement (or use of the wrong word), can lead to a rejection by the patent examiner.
But this young man impressed me with his bold vision and fearless attitude; I knew right then and there that I wanted to help him cross the finish line.
Despite friends and family telling him he was insane to drop out of medical school to pursue an idea that was “crazy and stupid”, he did it anyway. His inner compass told him he was on the right track. He instinctively knew he needed intellectual property protection to prevent others from stealing his idea.
I watched in awe as he leveraged his patent to build a company which raised over $3 million in capital and grew to over 140 employees, earning $21 million dollars in revenue. His patented D-HELP camera found its way into 90% of the hospitals in South Florida and around 1000 hospitals nationwide.
He sold his medical startup for $100 million to a giant in the healthcare space, Covidean.
“The key was to demonstrate that the patent prevented competitors from copying its product and that the law firm involved could defend it from challenges,” he said.
Alex placed as much value in the intellectual property as he did in the physical assets such as land, buildings and supplies. The result was a spectacular rag to riches tale that is an inspiration to all newbie inventors who long to commercialize their ideas.
Alex could not join me at the event as he was pitching new ideas in New York, but he did send his director of Intellectual Property, David Suazo, to accept an award on his behalf. David joined Troy and Don on the stage to celebrate how three rank outsiders helped change entire industries with their idea and collectively inspired a new legion of inventors to launch their ideas with bulletproof patents.
Inch by inch they built their empire. I was alongside them fighting to keep their ideas safe through patents, trademarks and copyrights.
A New Center of The Universe For Inventors
When the mayor (and friend of mine) Scott Brook was called upon to finally cut the ribbon and officially OPEN the new office headquarters, I felt my gut, experience and entrepreneurial spirit tell me that my law firm has indeed become the new center of the universe for many when it came to protecting their new ideas.
I had finally reached a highwater mark in my dream of building a world-class team of engineers and patent experts that were unified in their aim to help entrepreneurs Dare Mighty Things.
They were all housed under one roof, in one building - an earshot away from any inventor who comes into my office for an initial patent consultation. Collectively, my team understands that there is no room for error in the high stakes game of securing intellectual property.
We are akin to a team of heart surgeons and supporting specialists, including anesthesiologists, physician assistants and registered nurses, tasked with keeping your dream “alive” and your intellectual property portfolio “healthy”.
Having fun at the ceremony and enjoying a rap about patent law is just our passion showing.
Make no mistake about it, we take our role extremely seriously here at The Patent Professor ®.
It is the reason why Troy, Don and Alex Gomez choose my firm to represent them and why I have served inventors across 50 states in America.
With two former patent examiners on my staff and a growing team of patent illustrators, I can truly say we offer the absolute best in patent protection for garage inventors who crave the same success as the innovators who joined me on the stage that day.
In fact, if you ever decide to visit my new headquarters in Coral Springs for a patent consultation, you will find yourself walking down a stretch of corridor to my office.
As you make this walk you will find my walls adorned with stories of client success. Stories that mirror the journeys taken by Troy, Don, Alex and myself. They are all real people with humble beginnings, big hearts and stratospheric moments of highs and lows that underpin their eventual success.
These men and women are true problem solvers with big dreams who finally took action by approaching me to unlock wealth creation by first securing patent protection.
I could adorn my office with my degrees and certificates and awards that I have earned over the years like other lawyers do but that is not the true test of a lawyer’s contribution.
At my office, I want everything to focus on my clients and we call this corridor at my firm the “Hall of Fame for Inventors” and nothing would make me happier and prouder than to add your story to those walls.
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