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May 30, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Miami Patent Attorney, John Rizvi's Keynote Session at Startup SAFARI Miami 2019

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00:11

Hi, I'm John Rizvi, the patent professor, and I help entrepreneurs, take their ideas, protect them, and make money from them. So because I'm the patent professor, you probably think I'm going to start out talking about the intricate details of getting a patent, if you thought that you would be wrong. And the reason for that is, it's not in my experience of 20 years as an adjunct professor and a patent attorney, it's not the knowledge of patenting, that's holding most inventors back. And I think the English writer, John Ruskin, probably said it best. And he said, it's not what we believe, or what we know, or what we think that is going to make any difference. In the end, the only difference is going to be with what we do. And a lot of inventors, they don't take action. And the reason for that is not because of lack of knowledge. It's that comfort zone I talked about earlier, that place that President Theodore Roosevelt refers to as the great Twilight. And I'd like to start out later today, I'm going to talk about a client of mine that dropped out of medical school to pursue his invention, and he escaped this great Twilight. But before I do that, I would like to take you back in time to when I was 12 years old. Now, who knows what this is a Rubik's Cube Exactly. So when I was 12, I had a dream and a mission. And my entire goal in life was to take this Rubik's Cube and make it round. I wanted to create a round Rubik's Cube. I guess you can tell the nerds early. And one day my mom took me to the mall. And we went where we always went to KB Toys. And I went to that aisle where they had puzzles and games. And what I saw there, on the shelf completely crushed me. Somebody had already invented a round Rubik's cube. And they called it the impossible, the impossible. And in my 12 year old mind, they had stolen my idea. And I tried hard. My mother was there with me. I tried hard not to cry in front of my mom. And I succeeded. But does anybody really know you better than your mom, she she knew that this was my dream. And she had seen the the sketchbook under my bed with page after page after page of sketches and drawings of how I was going to make this round Rubik's cube. And as I looked up at her, it was hard. But I didn't cry. My mom started crying. And it t it KB Toys they store clerks have seen plenty of mothers dragging crying kids out of the store. But how was embarrassed This is back before electronic devices. The mall was where all my friends hung out. So I grabbed my mom by the hand, and they saw a crying mother being dragged out of the store. Now as children, we cry when we don't want get what we want, knows why that is. Because as kids, you actually believe that you will get what you want. But what happens to us as we start growing up and we become adults, we start getting convinced that getting what we want is not practical. And we let people talk us out of our dreams. And they tell us that these big bold, beautiful plans that we have, that they're just fantasies. So what do we do we start dreaming small and we dream safe. We stay within that that comfort zone that President Theodore Roosevelt warned us about. Now people will keep you in this comfort zone if you let them. Oprah Winfrey was told that she's too ugly for television. Walt Disney was was fired for not having enough imagination. Wayne Gretzky, perhaps the greatest hockey player of all time, was told that he is too slow and too small to ever play professional hockey. But how many of your dreams have you not pursued? Because somehow you don't fit the perfect mold? If you either don't look the right way, or you haven't gone to the right schools, you're not the right color. You haven't don't have the right amount of money, or don't have the connections that you need. What if you would have ignored all of this and just pushed ahead and pursued your idea? Or your dream anyway? What would happen? Well, I'll tell you what would happen, because that's what happened to me. When I was young, My in law school, my dream was to be a patent attorney. But not just a patent attorney, I wanted to work at the law firm of Fisher, Nev in New York City. Now, if you don't haven't heard of Fisher Neve, they're the lawyers that represented Thomas Edison in the patenting of the light bulb. They represented Henry Ford, for ideas that he had, they represented Alexander Graham Bell for the invention of the telephone, and the Wright brothers, the inventors of the airplane, Fisher Neve is to patents and inventions, but like Muhammad Ali is to boxing. This firm is the greatest of all time, and I wanted to work for them. But when I spoke to the placement director at the University of Miami, John, you're nuts. This is crazy. There's no way you're going to be hired by Fisher Neve that they only hire from Harvard and Yale. And the only interview students who have done summer internships. I didn't do a summer internship. I went to night school at the University of Miami and worked as an engineer during the day. I didn't have the luxury of doing of quitting for three months and going and doing an internship over the summer. But what I did do is I finished at the very top of my class at the University of Miami, I aced the Patent Bar Exam. And I knew that this was what I wanted to do. So I ignored that placement director completed the application and excitedly applied as a patent attorney efficient leave. So I'm telling you this, you probably think it has a happy ending. It doesn't. I got this rejection letter. And it stung hard. I still have it today. It's framed in my office, a person by the name of deed or Rogen wrote the letter. And I couldn't sleep the night I got it I tossed and I turned and the next day at work. And I was working as a as a structural engineer, I left the construction site where I was working during my lunch break. And I drove to find a phone a payphone for for those of you who even know what a payphone is. And I stood there with a quarter in my hands for about five minutes, mustering up the courage to call Miss Rogen, the person that wrote this rejection letter. And I did. And I spoke to her and I told her that her law firm Fisher Neve, their entire claim to fame is the representation of the Wright brothers to bicycle mechanics that happened to invent the airplane. Now these guys were not they didn't go to college. Neither. Neither one of them went to college. Only one of the Wright brothers had even finished high school was this perfect mold that they fit. Mr Rizvi is Rogen interrupted me. Hiring Committee decisions are final. And I don't understand what your point is. My point and the hair stood up on the back of my neck is that your hiring committee has made a mistake. They need to look at my application again. Because they misjudged me. Quick. I got off the phone. I don't know if this made any difference. But I know it made me feel better. until five days later, I got another letter from phishing leave.

09:15

My hands were shaking. I was I thought I was being sued. I'm a lawyer after all. But instead, it was my dream law firm asking me to come on board and join them as an attorney. And that quote from John Ruskin, the English writer, what we believe and what we know and what we think in the long run, it really doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what we do. And had I not had the courage to pick up the phone and call I would not have joined fishing leave. Now I joined fishing leave and I was I was working with the best patent attorney And he's in the entire world, learning from them. I was making more money than I had ever imagined in my life. But something was still missing. All my meetings were with lawyers, and they were with MBAs. And day in and day out, that was shuffling people around, basically, in a day long meetings, but I was so far removed from the creative spark of ingenuity of the inventor. After all, I was still the same person that at one point, thought that I would invent the round, Rubik's cube. So I decided that I'm going to quit. But it was a tough decision. But I wanted to quit. Instead of working for corporations. I wanted to work with inventors directly, I wanted to represent Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates, before they became apple, and Microsoft. But it's hard to quit when you're at the top. And I struggled and struggled and continued. Until one day, I decided to speak to my wife about the decision of quitting efficiently. Once again, it I mustered up the courage to speak with her and this time, it didn't take five minutes this time it took weeks. And why did it take so much courage? And it's not because my wife is some sort of monster. But we have. At the time, we had a one year old daughter, another baby on the way. It just was couldn't have been worse timing. So honey, I want to quit and start my own law firm. I have no clients. I have no revenues. I have no, I have no office, I have no staff. Will you trust me to take this chance. I looked over at my wife, huge third trimester belly. And I was prepared for hell to break loose. But instead, wife told me that that nothing I ever did felt like a chance to her. And she said to go for it. The greatest blessing in this world is to be married to somebody that believes you can do anything. It's sometimes it's a huge curse, but that's a different, different talk. And I hear from entrepreneurs sometimes who say that how? How can you be an entrepreneur and have a spouse? And my answer is, how can you not have a spouse? How can you not have somebody that believes in you? That solidly because as you guys know, it's not easy being an entrepreneur, and I can't imagine doing it alone. So with my wife behind me, I went to fishing leave. And I resigned. I told them that I wanted to quit and start my own law firm. Now, nobody quits. Fisher needs to start out a law firm. They go in house at Motorola and become a corporate attorney for large corporation, they go to Exxon, or a multinational corporation. So if you go to start John Reese, VPA you're nuts. You're crazy. And the harshest thing of all was this, John, we will hold on to your resume. If you ever want to come back. I never went back. And when I left, I was told that there's no stability in a small law firm, and that it's a risky proposition. The in an ironic twist of fate, Fisher Neve dissolved shortly thereafter. The firm no longer exists. Today. They are a little more than a historic footnote. But my law firm 18 years later, is still going strong. And is the fulfilment of my longest held dream. I believe I have a reason for being born. Believe my reason for being born into this world is so that I can convince inventors and entrepreneurs that you can be an outsider and still change an entire industry that you don't have to fit some perfect mold. Going back to that client of mine, Alex Gomez, and the newsletter I handed out his his stories on the second page. Alex was this medical student and he was surprised that in hospital rooms when surgeons are operating and the surgical instrument got fogged up, they would take this instrument down Put in a bucket of water and continue the surgery go back into the patient. And those guys that are here in health care, they can probably appreciate this. Everything he was taught, went against this practice. This causes infections. But, but he was not a doctor, he dropped out of medical school. They ridiculed him for having never done a residency. So he went home. And he created this rough prototype that he designed himself. And he brought this contraption, he brought it into my office, they put it on the corner of my desk. And he said, John, I don't care what they say. They can call me a dropout. If they want. They can ridicule me for not doing a residency of my device works. It is going to save lives. File this patent for me. Please protect my idea and helped me win. And I did, I found a patent for Alex, two years. After I found that patent. He sold his idea to maytronics for $100 million. And his surgical lens defogger. It saves lives every single day, and has had successfully over a million surgeries. And his product has changed the way doctors operate in surgery rooms. We give our fear fancy names. We tell ourselves that by giving up on our dreams, we convince ourselves that we're being practical. We dream small, and we dream safe. And rationalize it by telling ourselves that we're being realistic. And I'm an engineer, I we learn about a cost benefit analysis, we convince ourselves that pursuing our dream or idea or the business concept, is the rational thing to do. Because the cost is too high. The cost of failure is too high. Well, I'm here to tell you the greatest thing, the greatest cost is death. And we're all going to die someday. The greatest cost is not dying. But it's dying. With your unfulfilled dream still suffocating inside you that urge you to have the courage to pursue your dream. Remember that that quote from John Ruskin? It's not what you believe. It's not what you think. It's not what you know. It's what you do. And it takes courage to take that first step. have that courage to take that first step. Escape that great Twilight? And when? Thank you.

18:11

like some simple ideas, like look at look at this, like How brilliant is it to put a label upside down on a bottle of ketchup? What is this? What is this do? Well, people are creatures of habit. Nobody wants to store the bottle like this. But because the labels upside down, what are you going to do? You're going to put the bottle upside down in the cabinet. And the next time you need catch up, you're not going to go like this like, like the old bottles? I mean, is this a complicated idea that you have to be a brain surgeon to come up with? No, I mean, this is this is the thing people don't understand this. Oh, by the way, the inventor Paul Brown, sold this idea for $13 million, patented it and sold it simple like this, this this right here. I mean, a lot of you guys are younger, but before these sleeves. They used to have paper cups with little ears on them that you would you would pull out for the year. The problem with the IRS is that everyone became technologically savvy and now we're working on our computer. We don't want to take our eyes off the screen and take our fingers carefully through those little holes. We don't want to do that. We just want to grab the cup, take a sip, put it down grab the cup. So that partly technology killed those little years. But then this guy has licensed it. Paul Sorensen has made licensing royalty payments of a million dollars a year for over 20 years. I mean, it's a cardboard sleeve that goes on a a cup of coffee. The Post It note is like what is it? It's like removable glue that you can stick on and it won't damage anything. I mean, what's the alternative tape and paper but when's the last time if I asked all of you guys for a piece of tape who would have a piece of tape with them? You never have it when you need it. But this eliminates that problem. I could I don't I could, I could go on and on. But I do three more questions. At what point does an idea become? Yeah, that's a great idea. Design or just the idea. That's the biggest thing that if you wait until you have the finalized design, somebody else is going to file first. The US patent system is a first to file system, whoever files it first gets the idea. So it gets the patent. So I would not wait. If you have the concept. You may not know how to put it together. But somebody knows how you protect it. And then you go in contact, and then you can openly discuss it, raise capital, speak to engineers and have it designed afterwards. That's a huge, huge mistake. But it's, it's very common. They think, well, I need to make this product first, before I can patent it, and that's not the case. All right. Any more questions or feedback, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much, the professor.

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