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July 31, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Enduralock Inventor Discuss Journey to Coming Up With Inventions as a Medical Doctor I Harold Hess

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Okay, folks, this is I'm John Rizvi, the patent professor, and today is Friday, October 23. And we have the honor of having Dr. Howard has with us today. So he's going to tell us more about himself shortly. But first what I want to make a quick announcement for next week. And that is, if you haven't been following October 28, to the 30th is the largest inventor. I guess, webinars seminar. I mean, it's an unusual opportunity because of this pandemic. Instead of a live event. We're having it on Zoom. And we have the honor of having special guest, Kevin Harrington, who is going to be the keynote presenter. He's if you don't know him, he's the original shark on Shark Tank. He's launched over 500 products, selling weed sales of over $5 billion. We also have eight or nine other fascinating inventors that are going to present including the inventor of the selfie stick, the inventor of a camera block all kinds of inventors. And you can hear from their story. Speaking of stories we're going to hear from Dr. Howard has today and how he got his start inventing. And he is the CEO and founder of Indira lock company devoted to developing fastening technologies that are vibration resistant. We have some slides he's going to go over as well. Interesting enough, Dr. Hess is also a neurosurgeon, or I would say first was a neurosurgeon prior to becoming an inventor. And that's what inspired his ideas. He's going to talk about that, that inspired his locking mechanism that today is expanded to aircraft spacecraft, the oil and gas industry, and he holds over 60 patents. So without further delay, Dr. Hess, let's, let's welcome you on board.

All right. Well, thank you very much and and welcome, everybody that's that's on online. Um, as as was just said, I am a neurosurgeon. I practice for 30 years as a neurosurgeon, and focused primarily on the spine. And back in, I guess it was starting in 2006, I saw another spinal implant that at a trade show, and it kind of inspired me, because that particular implant required that to put it in, you had to open the person's back. So in other words, you know, cutting the muscles exposing the spine to put it in. And I said, Well, wait a second, what if we can do this percutaneously, meaning through a tiny incision on the side, and do muscle dilation, which is much less painful, and put the implant in under X ray. So I worked on it, and it took a couple years, but we developed a product that we we call the Minuteman, and it goes into the spine, it stabilizes the spine delivers a bony bony fusion nastic to create a fusion. And the difference is the treatment in the past. For the for the condition, these types of conditions have degenerative disc disease would require removing bone, putting screws and rods in looking, you're looking at about a three to four hour operation. With this implant did the last one I personally did before I retired, took me 12 minutes, show a dramatic increase in the, you know, in the speed of getting the procedure done, and also a dramatic improvement in the recovery time. With a typical operation, you can be out for a few months. With the Minute Man, there are people going back to work the next day. So it's it's dramatic improvement. But one of the things that came out with the Minuteman or hurdles that we faced was that FDA required that it survived 5 million cycles of compression and 5 million of torque without loosening. So originally, we had like a lock washer type design to lock it into the spine. But unfortunately, one of the implants failed at four and a quarter million cycles, meaning that it got loose. So I had to come up with a lock. And so I invented this locking technology. And it was actually a few months later that I looked at it one day and I said well wait a second. If I modify this a little bit, it would have many industrial applications but completely

Separate from many medical purposes or uses, let me share my screen real quick and Yo, you may not understand the relevance of of this slide, but I'll sure shortly explain it. Like you might think. Okay, so what does the what is Morgan Freeman? Possibly have to do with with you and 60 patents, and then the technologies and everything else? Well, one thing that's, that's fascinating that I didn't know is that he started his career, having joined the Air Force to become a fighter pilot. And it wasn't until his 40s that Morgan Freeman decided to really start in acting. And it wasn't until he was 52 years old, that Driving Miss Daisy took off, which was his first film that really did well. And this is where the, the similarities are just mind blowing to me, because I'm often asked by inventors, when is it too late to become an inventor? Just like sometimes, you know, people that are going for, you know, to become an actor in Hollywood. There's like, at which point do you throw in the towel and say, You know what, acting is not for me, or it's too late for me to start in a new new field. And especially with this pandemic, I'll tell you what's what surprised me to no end is in a surprise my wife because she's think How are you so busy in you do patent law? Isn't aren't patents a luxury that people are putting on the backburner while they're focusing on? You know, like, like food and their mortgage? And are they going to be employed? How are people still filing and I said, I've been busier than ever before. And then I looked into what's happened in past recessions and pandemics and the basketball was invented, the game of basketball was invented during the recession, Sir Isaac Newton came up with a law of gravity. While he was stuck in quarantine, and had tons of extra time Shakespeare wrote King Lear while he was stuck in quarantine, and had tons of extra time. The iPad was launched days after the September 11 attack, when the country was just fixated on the news and the world stopped. So there is something when you talk about a relocation of your medical practice, allowing you to have a little bit of freedom from the rat race, so to speak, of going from one surgery or one medical procedure to the next. That is when this creativity kind of kicked in. So tell us a little bit about that. Ironically, you were I think you were 52, when you had your first idea.

I was in my 50s Actually what happened was I was in a very busy practice, right outside New York City. And it was the type of practice that you were busy throughout the day. But you also were busy every second or third night in the emergency room, you know, with traumas that would come in and taking them to surgery and so forth. Well, what happened was I relocated my practice, and I'm now in the Kansas City area. And when I relocated, the practice that I joined, did not cover an emergency room. So I no longer had the emergency room responsibilities. I gave up trauma, and pretty much had an elective spine practice. That gave me an awful lot of time. And so when you have time, as you point out, you start thinking you Yeah, and it was interesting. I mean, I went to this medical convention. And I saw this implant, that I said, that's something I might like to try in my own practice. And I thought, you know, this probably would save a lot of time, you know, and to be. And to be fair, I think that implant probably cut the surgery from three to four hours down to about an hour and a half. But I said, Well, wait a second, what if I make some changes and so forth? Then why can't I make this into something that is percutaneous and make it open not only for surgeons to utilize, but also for interventional radiologists, and thanks physicians to put in. So he didn't have to be a surgeon necessarily to put this in. And so then, you know, with the time I had eventually formed a company partnered up with somebody, and we move forward and hired an engineer and everything else was history.

Yeah. It's funny during this pandemic, I have a lot of inventors that are that I've spoken with. They're still working, they're still working a nine to five job but they're doing it remotely. And it's not even necessarily freedom from from the nine to five, but just not having somebody looking over your shoulder. Eight hours a day watching what you're doing. They have an opportunity to start giving thought to things, sometimes ideas that were from two or three years ago that they buried and just said, You know what I'm gonna attend to this when I have time. And then all of a sudden, they find they have time. So I have Jenny or moderator, she's in the background. But if you can bring up the animations and showing some of Dr. Hesse's ideas, and I'd like to maybe start with is this the second? Yeah, the second one, the radio lock fastener. So tell us about how this was inspired, actually, by your medical product for spines. And we can just run that in the background while we we listen, right?

Well, I mean, basically, the spinal implant also had these two flats and had a washer that had to two flats to prevent rotation. On the spinal implant, the teeth were on the back end of the washer here, there under the inner circumference. You know, we have a spring designed with teeth at the base. So basically, the washer can rotate because of the flat. So when the nut engages with the spring to the washer, it's locked. It is mechanically locked, it can't move. When a six point socket is applied, it flexes the arms inward, disengaging the teeth. So it's free spinning, it doesn't ratchet. So you can apply a certain clamping force or what's called preload very accurately. As soon as the socket is removed, it flexes outward, he's engaged and you're locked. And the same socket for maintenance can be reapplied to remove the nut, perform whatever maintenance is required, and then reinstall it. Yeah, it's interesting that you mentioned how do we get into things like, you know, becoming an inventor, um, you know, one hobby that I had for most of my adult life was to be I was a woodworker. So I built a number of pieces of furniture in my house. And as anybody listening who's who's a woodworker can imagine, you come into problems where you have to design a jig to do a certain job. Well, that designing of that jig is in effect in mentorship. So it's, it's, you know, it's basically the same thing when we, when we had the minute, man, you know, and the lock washer failed? Well, I had to come up with something, I wasn't going to just let the project drop. So I came up with this locking mechanism. And, you know, the original mechanism was ratcheting. And when we first took it over to industry, it required specialized tooling. But you can imagine if a plane needs maintenance, and it's somewhere else in the world, then it's not advantageous to to start looking for a special tool to perform maintenance. Right? You know, we spent a fair amount of time, you know, meaning over a couple of years to refine it into a product that we now have that just takes a six point socket to put it on, or take it off.

Now, how did you when you started approaching these different industries? Were was was it an obstacle for you? I mean, I know obviously, in spinal surgery being a neurosurgeon was was a benefit. But do you see that as possibly having you viewed as an outsider to that industry? Like what is this neurosurgeon? Who does he think he is to try to create parts for aircraft and military uses in oil and gas and all these different industries that are completely outside the scope of your specialized training?

Sure. One thing you might notice when you look at my website, you'll see that I listed my title as Dr. Harold has. I don't say Harold has MD. So a lot of engineers that I deal with when they initially look at my name, they just think I'm a PhD. Probably an engineering. I'll tell you a funny story. When I when I went to when we had our first exhibition at a trade show for interlock. It was in Seattle. It was a every other year Aerospace Expo. And so my I always bring an engineer, But it so happened that at a particular moment, the engineer was off looking at other exhibits. So I was there by myself. And I had a senior Boeing engineer come by, and he looks at the product. He was skeptical at first, when he looked at the back, you know, background what we had written and so forth. They played I started playing with it, and it was almost like the light bulb went off. And he looks at me, he says, Boy, I can get a really accurate preload. And I just nodded and honestly, no, I Hear what he was talking about as far as preload. So when he wandered off, you know, obviously, I go on my phone, I Google, you know, preload, whatever, now, and I realized, it's all it is, is a different way of saying clamping force. So when the next engineer came by, I said, You know what, you can get a really accurate preload with this. And, you know, you started learning the lingo. And, you know, it's almost like, I guess what I like to give the analysis. I'm like a TV engineer, I know enough that I can answer about 90% of the questions that are typically asked. And I'm not really an engineer. And so you know, but, you know, I have other engineers on the payroll, so they help out.

Great, it sounds like, I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV, you are a doctor, but you get rid of the MD I love that. That's because there's so many clients of mine that have that or have found their credentials, sometimes it's lack of credentials that are holding them back. But other times it's being having really specialized knowledge in one field. Has people pigeonholing you into that field and you know, they Okay, that's great, stick to spinal surgery type ideas, but leave the aircraft and oil and gas and all this other fastener type technologies to us engineers, but it's, you know, the just by its very nature, inventors are, are inventing outside there. Sometimes there is no field there was there were no courses for social media. When Mark Zuckerberg came up with the with Facebook, there was no, the Wright brothers were, we're sorry, were bicycle mechanics. I mean, there's no they didn't have forget about an undergraduate in a certain field, they were neither one of whom even went to college. I mean, they, one of them was only one was a high school graduate. So that's just the nature of innovation. Sometimes it takes somebody from outside the industry, to really realize that there is a better way I know. I mean, both of us are old enough to remember the old soda cans, tops that had that little metal tin piece that would that you would have to separate. And I'm going to do a quick drawing real quick. And that's and it was, so you would separate this and you would have this little tab. And when I was if you can see that, when I was in grade school, we would, we would be asked to bring a bunch of them in. And it would be like tensile for Christmas trees. And you would go around the tree with that, of course, people were not a safety conscious back then our blades. And they were even, you know, but there are huge disadvantages to this. I mean, first of all, it was filling up landfills, people were throwing them away at beaches, toddlers, were swallowing it on, you know, at the beach, on the sand, people are getting their feet cut. And it was an inventor in his 80s not part of the beverage container industry at all. Who said you know what, why do we have to have this piece separate? Why can't it just be something that a tab that you push down? And I'm glad he didn't say you know, who might have changed the beverage industry forever with this idea having never worked in that industry. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to really realize that, that hey, there's there's something to be said for, for this idea. And there's something too, sometimes a change for an industry comes from the outside. Because everyone in the industry just assumes that the way it's done is just the way that it always has to be done.

A lot of times, it's just realizing what, like, for example with with me, it was just originally a solution for the problem that I have with the Minuteman. But then it's it's taking that next step, when you realize, okay, what is just an ordinary solution for one industry, all of a sudden, it can become something disruptive, in a different industry. You know, and that's, and that's where I think we are right now, if interlock, I mean, to give you an example, in aerospace for self locking nut. The requirement is to withstand 30,000 cycles of vibration. That's a standard throughout the aerospace industry. With the technology that we developed, we were able to test in an independent lab up to 300,000. So in other words, 10 times the aerospace requirement, it's mechanically locked. If you leave it alone, it's permanent. But yet for maintenance, you can take it off and reuse it. Which makes it unique.

Right? That Jenny if you want to bring up the third video, and or sorry, the the last going on there. And then let's talk about we already did the radio, or is it the radio lock bolt is that the one

that's taking the technology and putting it into the head of a threaded bolt. So now you have a locking bolt that threads into a substrate. So you have the same spring mechanism, the arms that attached to the head of the bolt, TISA debase, we got rid of the flats on the boat. And we have the washer, no longer has the flats does have the circumferential teeth. And to constrain the washer in rotation, we put either axial or radial tabs that go into pre drilled holes. So now the washer is constrained by going by those tabs. And when a six point socket is applied to the head of the ball, it again flexes the arms inward to disengage the teeth. So that bolt is free spinning until you remove it, teeth engage, it's locked.

Okay, it's that when you just take you back to when you first came up with the ideas, as you said, necessity is the mother of invention, you did not set out to become an inventor and start changing industries, had you found a solution? You never would have come up with the Minuteman, you would have just started using it in your practice and save time in conducting the surgeries, so I mean, that would have been the end of it. But you didn't find it. And that's what had you kind of experimenting, not necessarily to do initially just to create a solution for yourself.

Correct? Correct. And, you know, the solution worked well. And we did get FDA approval. And we've been out in the US for a number of years. But, you know, the solution also provided for something new for industry. And, you know, I feel that, you know, we certainly have gotten a number of accomplishments. You know, last year, we were a winner at one of NASA's competition. At the same time, we want to Shell Oil competition. Recently, we were notified that we are a one of three finalists as oil and gas startup of the Year at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum meeting, which is the largest oil and gas meeting in the world. And then EF works, which is a division of the Air Force and Space Force had challenges for space that they published, they had 809 companies of all sizes. And when I say all sizes, Verizon put in a solution, Lockheed Martin put in a solution. So out of 809, they down selected to 178 and had a virtual showcase or great show. And from there they down selected to 26 to move forward for potential contracting, were one of the 26. So we've had a number of accolades over the over the last year. But like I said, I'm always Dr. Harold has or just simply Harold has not Harold SMD.

It's great. Abu Dhabi is the mistaken for oil and gas, PhD. Exactly that area. So I want to turn to two patents, because to tell me about your first patent that you proceeded with, and acquired, and then how did you realize the importance of patents and start pursuing them aggressively for your innovations? And are they and how did you expand beyond spinal surgery to get the patents to be written in a way that covers other aspects of where your idea can be used?

Right. And it becomes a little tricky, because when you have two companies with different investors in each company, yeah, if you have to keep the IP portfolio separate. Yeah, I think our first patent was on a design that preceded the Minuteman. And then we modified that design a few times eventually came up with the Minuteman had progressive filings of patent applications. And then originally, I filed a provisional on the locking mechanism. And and what I did is, I licensed it back to the spine company at a one time nominal rate. So it's just one fee, and then they could use it forever, for the applications of the Minuteman. But for other applications, such as an industry, the IP was was kept separate and put into an airlock. And then what we did as well as we, we took the approach in the spine company of looking at where major companies did their filings internationally. So we, we looked at Medtronic, pew, for example, Zimmer, where do they file? And so we follow their lead. And

sorry, when you see a where do they like, specifically which countries? Right? Correct. That's kind of a shortcut to figuring out where could the market for for for this technology be, you can try to do your research yourself and figure it out, or it's public information, the actual patent filings figure out where were the filing?

Exactly. So so we took that as a shortcut, and we started filing and a number of countries. And then gradually over the years, the filings just have multiplied. And then in the with interlock, with each new design that we invented, we filed, and typically, we filed in a PCT and then converted the PCT into into the national phase, or countries we wanted to file in. So one unique thing about Aerospace is that I know, I know that there is always the chance of let's say, a product being knocked off from another country. And then, you know, let's say, China, for example, and then being brought into the US. But the difference in Aerospace is that if a plane flies over North America, or Europe, if the manufacturer of the plane knowingly uses a counterfeit product, I could see the plane. So it prevent is protection, at least in aerospace that they're they're going to use legitimate products. Another thing we did, yeah,

well, amazing, because, you know, patents prevent competitors from making using or selling a product within a certain geographic area. But the airspace is within a country's geographic areas, and well, well so that it doesn't matter product made in China, and sold somewhere else. If it travels through us airspace, then the US Patent would, of course, cover infringe. Exactly,

exactly. Yeah. So um, you know, we currently within Uralic, for example, we have 12 US patents issued to European patents or Canadian patent, and we're patent pending on over 20 others with spinal simplicity, my spine company, I think there's somewhere north of 80 patents 80 or 90, worldwide. So it helps protect you, as you well know, you know, to have as many fences so to speak, as you can in the ground.

Right? I mean, it's funny, I have this iPhone here. And obviously everyone knows, you know, now Apple is on the iPhone 12. But the iPhone has 49 patents on it, and they didn't file all 49 Right at the beginning, as a product or idea evolves, as long as you have one application pending, as you know, you can you can file continuation applications and continuations in parts. And, and you use the term patent portfolio. It's your sophisticated inventor who understands that term. Sometimes it's referred to as a patent web. And it's the same thing you will essentially create so many patents covering your technology, that a competitor would look at that and have their patent attorneys evaluated and come back to them and say, You know what, it's just too hard to figure out where the open spaces are, you're better off licensing the idea, or purchasing rights or or just avoiding the field altogether. And that's how you get the real, the real value. So I guess my numbers were off when I said 60 tablets and 60 plus patents that you mentioned at?

Well, I you know, to be very honest, I lose track with some of the internationals. So that's why I typically say I'm somewhere north of 60. I mean, I know how many I have in the US in the US. I'm named in 32, as of right now that are issued, and then the rest are in various other jurisdictions around the world.

Right. And lots of them still, of course, pending that they're not been granted yet. And they're just kind of under the radar.

Right. I mean, certainly somewhere north of 30 that have already been granted internationally and then probably another 30 or so that are pending.

Yeah, terrific. Just one final question because I know these days everybody is Zoo. in doubt, so when I promised my viewers 30 minutes, it's 30 minutes now. But what final piece of advice would you have for an inventor? Who's looking at a new new idea, something you wish maybe something you wish you knew? Back when you started or wish that somebody would have told you before, you know, when you started?

Well, I mean, I think the main thing is just have perseverance. Yeah, I mean, I've been told by a good friend of mine, that my spine company was like a phoenix that would die and be reborn. You know, because I mean, it goes through, you know, ups and downs, and so forth. I mean, you can imagine, for example, when the virus hit Endura lock initially was focused really on just aerospace and oil and gas, well, you know, aerospace, tanked, and oil and gas. So I mean, you have to survive. So, you know, then focusing more on defense, for example, or space, you know, where they really have not been affected by the virus. So you just have to pivot as you need to, and, you know, it's not the aerospace will never come back, it certainly will. So it's not like we've lost business, it's just been. And the same is true of oil and gas. Now, and then continue to look internationally. I mean, I just had a really good second meeting, virtually, to weeks ago with Airbus, you know, with procurement and their engineering team for next platform. So again, you know, don't limit yourself just to us.

Right. And that's, it's great advice. I mean, for the inventors that are kind of new to the process, it may be intimidating, because for them, gosh, just us protection is coming is hard to get. And there's a lot of deadlines, and you have to move quickly. But one thing that a doctor has mentioned is the PCT. And the PCT is a an international treaty, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, that once you file in the United States, you have a grace period of one year to file international applications. So I'm just reading for the viewers who are kind of new to this and like, Oh, my God, you know, it's not only do I have to worry about the United States, but I have to file in China, Japan, you mentioned Canada and a bunch of other countries. The good news is you do have some breathing room before you pursue that. And I have, this is the first time I mean, it seems like it's just so natural. This is the first time I've heard of that strategy of looking at competitors, or the big players in the industry. Because if you're not sure where to file, or obviously look at the industry that your idea relates to, and look at what the end is where the industry leaders are filing because they have the resources to do the r&d and the research and the market research and they hire McKenzie and consultants and they figure out where to file. Well, if they're in your industry, they've done the heavy work for you, you know, which countries are going to be have the greatest potential. So thank you, Dr. Hess. This has been amazing. It's an honor to have you on as the patent professor. And, and I look forward to us, hopefully having you back home. All right.

Well, thank you very much. You have a great day and a great weekend. Thanks

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