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John Rizvi, Esq.

Protecting Your Invention Idea 877-728-7763 – Inventor Podcast Interview The Patent Professor

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Welcome to art of the kickstart your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I'm your host Roy Moore's on President of inventors partners, the top full service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over $100 million for our clients since 2010. Each week, I'll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding art of the kickstart is honored to be sponsored by gadget flow. The gadget flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer's guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let's get on with the show. Welcome to another edition of art of the kickstart today we are talking with the patent Professor John Rizvi. John, thank you so much for joining us today.


Yeah, thank you, Roy. My pleasure.


So John, you're Yeah, no, it's I'm excited for our conversation today. It's not often we get too many authors on the side, and especially in the category that you work in. Given that you're a two time best selling author on Amazon for patent law, your books thinking Grow Rich for inventors, and your most recent one escaping the gray, really excited to kind of dive into your, you know, 20 plus years of experience in terms of helping clients start with nothing but an idea and you know, take their invention all the way through to successfully launch their product and generate revenue and potentially license out their patents and their ideas. And I know a lot of the audience that we work with specifically, really is going to, you know, find a lot of value out of this conversation. So I'm really excited to kind of dive into, you know, where did this all start for you? And what inspired you to become a patent attorney?


Okay, well, I would my journey started early I was at 12, I was my dream and sole ambition in life was to create a round Rubik's cube. And, you know, that is that puzzle with, you know, I guess 16 squares and you try to get all the colors to match up. And then one day my mom took me to the mall and I, what I saw on the store shelf just crushed me like somebody already had a round Rubik's cube. And they had a better name than round Rubik's Cube, they called it the impossible. And I never, you know, so that's, I never did go forward with the round Rubik's Cube, but I ended up becoming an engineer. And eventually that led me to patent law. And I certainly over the years, I never forgot that lesson of being second with an idea and how that feels for an inventor.


So when you did that, after law school, you opened up your own practice, or you started getting inquiries from other folks that we're running into problems with getting their ideas out there.


Yeah, so I started out my practice at, you know, my my dream was to work at the law firm, efficient, nice. Now, these are the lawyers that patented Thomas Edison's light bulb, Henry Ford's ideas, Alexander Graham Bell, this firm was basically two patents what Muhammad Ali is to boxing like the greatest of all time. And when I got there, what was really disappointing for me, I mean, I was working with the best patent attorneys in the world and making more money than I had ever dreamed of. But it was five years that I was there, and I had yet to have met with a single inventor, the clients of this firm have today. I mean, the Gone were the days of the Wright brothers, or Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford, the clients today were huge multinational corporations like Exxon, or, or Motorola. And oh, my entire days were spent with lawyers just moving paper around, in meeting after meeting with MBAs, and just it was frustrating to have once met with an inventor. And that's when I started my own practice.


So I love one of the topics you have on your website in terms of the power of simple ideas, and they can make you millions, you know, in terms of these simple ideas that revolutionize entire industries. And I recently just spent the weekend with Josh Malone, the creator of bunch of balloons. And, you know, that is such a simple innovation that's changed the world of you know, water balloons and how they get made. So I'm really interested to, you know, hear about some of the inventors that have come to you over the years in terms of some of their product ideas and some of the pitfalls that inventors may fall into.


Okay, yeah. Well, one of the big myth that's out there is that if you see a patent attorney and even the term inventor, I mean, I like to use entrepreneurs, more than inventor because the term inventor conjures up images of like, you know, like a crazy project. So are the guy in like Back to the Future. And the flux capacitor is what people think of when they think inventor, they think sometimes they need to have invented the flux capacitor or a time machine or a cure for cancer. And nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the most simplest ideas have her incredibly successful. I mean, my, on my firm's Facebook page, we just this past week, March 5 was the birthday of the invention of the hula hoop, a patented product that essentially is a round hoop, that you can swing around your waist, this toy made over $45 million in profits. So it's not complexity, we have the coffee cup sleeve, which is just this cardboard sleeve that you'll find around a cup of coffee at the finer coffee shops. This thing is been licensed by Jay Sorensen, the inventor for over a million dollars in royalty payments for 20 years. So there's there are simple everyday ideas that are not, you know, the Snuggie the blanket would like hold for your arms is another example. I mean, there's just so many the, if you've ever been at a restaurant, and you had to hit the back of the ketchup bottle to get the ketchup out, you will appreciate that now there's a container by you know, Heinz used it is, and it's licensed to others as well, with the label reversed so that when you store the ketchup, it's stored upside down. That's not rocket science. I mean, there's not you don't need a PhD in product design to come up with some of these ideas. But they are simple, but they solve an everyday problem and a problem that's widespread. And that's what that's the key.


Speaking of sauces, I'm really excited down here in the south that Chick fil A is finally coming out with Polynesian sauce and a bottle that you can buy in a store.


Yeah, sometimes it's sometimes for ideas is just changing, you know, it's taking an old product and repackaging it in a different way. So the younger people might forget that well, before the post it note, you know, people would use a piece of paper and a small piece of tape. So it's not it's it's just sometimes it's that little additional convenience that makes all of the difference. I mean, today, you wouldn't imagine doing that. But that was that was how things were done. The rubber seal on the bottom of a can of shaving cream, so you don't get rust stains on your, on your countertop. I mean, these are, you know, like real, they say necessity is the mother of invention. These are inventors that faced an issue themselves. Instead of assuming that it was just them, they realized that they were onto something that if it's something that's bothering them, they very well might be millions of other potential customers out there that would be willing to pay for that solution.


Absolutely. So let's talk about the process then for these entrepreneurs that are coming up with new ideas. When do you typically like to start talking with them in terms of the process and how that will flow through and timing and cost around getting patents for their innovations?


Okay, so the you know, in some, some things have changed over time. And there are good aspects of that. And when there are bad aspects. I, I believe that this is now the golden age for inventors. I mean, when I became a patent attorney over 20 years ago, it was a completely different scene. For inventors, there are no shows like Shark Tank on TV, I had to explain what I did, to family and friends. And inventors really didn't have a way to bring their product to market directly. So they were forced to pitch directly to manufacturers. There was no Amazon, there was no eBay. There's no Kickstarter to raise funds, there's none of this existed. And this is this is all good. So it is the golden age for inventors. Unfortunately, being able to make the prototype today is easier than it's ever been. Because you can easily find and source prototype manufacturers. But it's a double edged sword because a lot of inventors will jump to making the product as the first step. And the first step I recommend is let's find out if your idea is unique before you spend any time or money on making it because if it's not unique, you're essentially reinventing the wheel and you're going to spend a lot of time and money perhaps to find out that somebody else already owns rights to that. So that's that's the downside of of product commercialization today is it's so easy to go straight to the prototype stage. This used to not be the case it used to be much more common for us to see inventors early in the process. Speaking with a patent attorney before they they went to product development, and that's that's the right approach. The other risk is it The temptation to search online for your product is could be a huge pitfall. Because if you search it in the wrong forums, you could be giving away your idea. I mean, there are marketing companies that track search terms. So if the search terms you use are, reveal your idea is an example I use in my book is the mythical glow in the dark kite, if your idea is a kite that you can fly at night, and it goes in the dark. You If you type those search terms in, then you are essentially revealing the idea to others that is there that if you don't have any protection, you don't have the patent filed. So that's the other downside of today. Plus, not to mention YouTube, I've seen clients come to my office and vendors that have a new idea. And I asked them for the prototype. And they say they don't have it, but they can show it to me on YouTube. And sometimes it's not, it's not a password protected channel. It's not private, it's just publicly disclosed. And the the major change in the law in 2013 makes that a huge, huge pitfall. Because it used to be if you were first to invent, you would own rights to the idea. But in 2013, the US patent law switched to a first to file system, which is the single biggest change in patent law in this century. It's first a file means if you don't file first, it really doesn't matter that you can show receipts are evidence of inventing first, you can lose out the rights to somebody else.


Yeah, which I think is a is a huge shift that I don't think a lot of inventors are aware of. And I think a lot of them, especially on the Kickstarter side that are launching campaigns and projects out there without patents in place feel that that's, you know, the first advantage that they have of putting the product out there and showing, hey, this is my idea, this is my invention. And then if it gets, you know, taken from them that way, obviously, the path to ownership rights gets a whole lot longer.


Right. And that's, you know, it's one thing that, you know, the the internet and I guess the shrinking world has made just in time manufacturing a reality. So you can kind of source and try to get sales prior to developing a huge inventory. But it's very risky to go one step further, and then look at almost recovered code, just in time patent protection, there's no such thing you have to file the patent, prior to any public disclosure, would be my recommendation, because once you've publicly disclosed it, it's a race against time, whoever gets that patent application in first is going to win.


So in terms of the search, what resources could you recommend to our audience and listeners to go to initially, I mean, is it USPTO and doing a search query there? Are there are other resources that they can find online to safely search and see if their invention is, you know, out there? Or if it's a piece of it, that they need to license from someone else? Where do they begin? Yeah, so


I mean, it's, it seems counterintuitive, but even in this day, and age, if you can find that specialty store, I would absolutely start there first, because there's zero risk of disclosure there. So if your idea, say has to do with a new camping related innovation, or you would go to Bass Pro Shops, perhaps and just check all of their inventory. If it's something relating to hardware item, perhaps go to Home Depot first, not the online store, the actual physical location. And if you don't find it there, then the patent office database is the safest because any of these commercial databases, such as Amazon, for example, there, you know, Jeff Bezos would like Amazon to be and I think that's their slogan, The Everything Store. So they're not just books anymore. And if they're marketing, people see a lot of searches for something that they don't carry, that could trigger them, they become manufacturers now you can buy Amazon branded products, what's to stop them from launching a product if they have sufficient search volume? So you, same thing with Google or Yahoo, anytime you're doing searches online, you have those risks. But at the patent office database there, at least it's not a commercial enterprise that's in the process of selling products that may compete with you, at least at the patent office database, you can search by classification instead of keywords so that there's a lot of security in that as well.


So do you think, you know given the current state of the globe in terms of the Coronavirus is the patent office potentially seeing an increase in Coronavirus type protection products to be you know, that first mover advantage of just filing and then figuring it out after that? Oh,


I have I have no doubt Absolutely. And this is not an you know, we have over time, if you recall, when there's the issue of anthrax in, you know, powder being put in mailboxes, we had an inflow of of potential clients with solutions for that. So anytime something gets this kind of media coverage, it triggers, you know, a lot of inventors to start thinking along these lines. And I'm sure right now the data is not there. But I'm sure a couple years from now, if you look at the spike in patent applications, you'll absolutely see a spike in you know, proposed solutions for the corona virus. And it might not be simply just medical type cures, it may be new types of masks, for example, it might be sanitizing wipe systems, it might include all kinds of mechanical, physical components that are not just for curing the patient or treating the patient, but more for prevention to stop the spread of the virus. So that you'll see anytime there's stuff in the news, that's not that there's this fight. After 911, there was an absolute spike in patents relating to building evacuation systems so so ways for people who are on the 30th floor of a high rise to quickly get down to the ground level safely without if they can't take the elevator or stairs. So that that you'll find that historically, there's been spikes anytime something is gotten major media coverage, the type that the Coronavirus is getting these days,


can you give me a rough idea of you know, a timeline for inventors, you know, if they're submitting their patent process with you, you know, what does that timeline look like and what's you know, a rough estimate of cost for them to get, you know, a patent approved here in the United States.


So the first step is what is the patent search, and I like to refer to that as the X ray. So if you're going to see a surgeon, for an important operation, the first thing he would do, of course, is do an x ray to find out if you're a good candidate. So for the patent attorney, the patent search is like an x ray would be for a doctor, that stage takes about five to seven days. So about five to seven days after our meeting. And most of these meetings, by the way, are online through video conference calls. So you no longer even have to physically leave your house to get a consultation with a patent attorney. So five to seven days after we start a research, we're able to advise an inventor or entrepreneur, whether their idea is unique enough. Now, if it is unique, the next step is to then the race against time starts to get that patent application in as soon as possible. So depending on the complexity, that could be anywhere from four weeks to about 12 weeks to file, once you're filed, you are patent pending, and you no longer have to keep your idea confidential. So once your patent pending, you've essentially saved your place in line. And at that point, at that point, you can start marketing, you can start sales. That's the right time, if you were going to do a Kickstarter campaign or, or any kind of crowdfunding campaign, you need to wait until your patent pending. And then once your patent pending, then then you have a green light to start all of that, even before the patent is granted. So a lot of vendors don't realize that they they hear that it takes and it's truly it can take two to three years to get the patent. But by no means does that mean that you have to sit around for two to three years and wait for the patent to be issued. Once you've saved your place in line. All systems should be go you start your sales, start marketing, speak to investors start crowdfunding, all of that starts about four to 12 weeks after you first meet with a patent attorney.


Nice. So given that you've seen so many different entrepreneurs and inventors come through your doors. What's the number one tip, you know, that you could offer to any of these aspiring inventors? Yeah,


well, the A lot of times and I think it's it's more not so much a clip of what to do, it's what not to do. And that is to not discount yourself because you're in a because you don't fit this perfect mold of what you think an inventor in that industry should be. And so if you know perhaps you haven't gone to the right schools or you don't have the right education or or background in the industry, you might be an outsider to the industry. But you can't let that prevent you from thinking that you could change the industry the the Wright Brothers after all were there was no airline industry. They were they were bicycle mechanics, and neither one of whom even went to college. Only one of the Wright Brothers even finished high school they had no investors and they were in Dayton, Ohio, but they absolutely change the face of transportation with their idea of human powered flight. Now, this concept is one that I've captured in my book escaping the gray. And it comes from President Theodore Roosevelt, who refers to this great Twilight. That's the comfort zone that people are afraid to step out of. And the world is going to keep you in your comfort zone, if you let them. Oprah Winfrey was told that, you know, she's too ugly for television and should stick to the radio, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for not having enough imagination, the temptation, the ease with which you can get feedback on your concept today is also another double edged sword, it's very easy to get feedback. But you have to be extremely careful about who you approach not only because you might lose rights, and they might follow the patent first. But you might have well meaning friends and family that, have you questioning yourself, and whether you're the right person to have brought an idea to market. I mean, years before the invention of the poptop soda can. We had these tabs that had to be pulled out. Now that entire industry was changed by someone who's not even was not even in the beverage bottling industry at all. And we see this over and over again, industry is being changed by by people that are outside the industry. So that would be that's that I think the biggest tip and that's one thing that my entire book escaping the gray. That's the focus of that. And I point out several ideas that might never have gone to market had been vetted or questioned whether he was the right one, to bring it forward.


Interesting. Yeah, they told me I had a face for radio. So that's why I'm podcast. Well, listen, John, this is really exciting. This is gonna get us into our launch round, where I'm gonna rapid fire a handful of questions that you you're good to go. Perfect. Yep. So what inspired you to work with entrepreneurs? Yeah, so


I wanted to work with the decision makers, I didn't want the, you know, I wanted the spark of ingenuity of the person with the vision with the idea. Once a company gets to a certain size, that aspect is lost. And then I'm working with lawyers and MBAs. And that's not what inspired me to become a patent attorney in the first place. I think even though, you know, I'm pushing 50. Now, somewhere inside me is still that 12 year old that wanted to invent the round Rubik's cube. And I think, working with entrepreneurs and small startups, I mean, I'd like preferred clients have, the entire company may have no more than a half dozen people in the company. That to me is a kind of adrenaline rush that I can't get anywhere else.


So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?


Yeah, well, I would, I would actually, like I would say, the Wright brothers. I mean to, it's easy today for people to say they believe in their idea. But to put yourself into a device that's untested doesn't exist, and have you basically thrown through the air on a tube of sorts, like that kind of confidence? I think I find inspiring,


what would have been your first question for the Wright brothers? Well,


I would I would have asked you why them? I'm just curious, like, what what in the world would make them think that they would be the ones to develop the the airplane? I mean, they absolutely. You can't think of one factor that's in their favor, objectively. And today with a lot of startups, you have investors talking about, well show us your management team, and they're looking for letters after mean they're looking for credentials, they're looking for resumes, these these guys had had none of that they had no investors, they had nothing. So what you know, that would be the question like, What, why you? Because that's, that's a question that's timeless even today within inventor like, Why them why Jeff Bezos, when he's, you know, Amazon lost money for 14 years before ever turning a profit. You know, of course, that's not going back in time. But what, you know, where did you get this level of confidence that it's going that it's just a matter of time before you turn the corner? And the profits start coming in? What would why was, why did they not give up in year 2346? That's that, to me is is inspiring, and I still find that in, in vendors today. I mean, some of my I had one client that sold his idea to Medtronic for $100 million. This was a medical person who's in medical school, and he dropped out of medical school to pursue this idea for a surgical ends defogger. And it's inspiring, like how I mean, here he is pitching an idea to doctors that ridiculed him for not having done a residency not having finished medical school. And his product really has been used in over a million surgeries, and basically has changed the way that surgical surgeries are done. And cameras are cleaned in the operating room throughout the world. So that's that that is this thing. You know, that's not any different than what the Wright brothers did, you know, or over a century ago.


So outside of your two best selling books, what other book might you recommend to our listeners? Yeah,


that's I mean, this. That's, I mean, it's, I would still see even though one of my books is thinking Grow Rich for inventors, I still believe that Napoleon Hill's original thinking Grow Rich, is, is a timeless classic that all inventors should read. Now, what my book has done is brought a lot of the doctrines and tied them specifically to inventors. But pretty soon and inventors company grows from inventor into an entrepreneur and becomes a business. And some of the other things that I don't talk about in my book, I think are very relevant. So I would say, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, should be should be read by all inventors as well.


All right, last question. I know we didn't talk about crowdfunding and Kickstarter and Indiegogo, too, too much. But I'm interested to see your take on what the future of crowdfunding looks like.


Yep. Oh, it's incredibly bright. I mean, I think that's the democratisation of investment. So you no longer have to have at one point in time, it was, you know, the importance of being connected to the right people and having the right introductions made. The beauty of a Kickstarter campaign is it's your idea is really evaluated on merit. So now you have, you know, people basically voting with dollars on the idea, and it's something that would not have been possible without the Internet. But now, with the internet, the ability to reach that many potential investors, without spending a ton of money, shipping prototypes all over the country or doing, you know, time consuming one on one consults, you simply create a video, create a sell sheet, and you put that online on this forum. It's only going to increase over time. I'd be surprised if the the amount of funding doesn't double in the next five years through online crowdfunding platforms like those.


Absolutely. Well, John, this has been awesome. This is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch. Tell people what you're all about where they should go and why they should check you out.


Okay, well, I, you know, as a patent attorney, I mean, you know, patent law is considered one of the most complex and confusing areas of law. I think what sets me apart is I've been an adjunct professor teaching patent law for for over 20 years. And in this process, I've learned to simplify the complex doctrines of patents that entrepreneurs need to know. And I've created on my YouTube channel over 40 videos, that are animated cartoons explaining difficult patenting concepts in plain English. And I think that's, that's a key any any inventor that wants to go to YouTube and do a search for the patent professor will find my video see educational video series. In addition to that, I'd like to offer a copy of escaping the gray to any of your listeners that if they want to contact you, and you can put them you know, work with you to get your copy. So I'd be happy to send copies out to anyone that's interested.


Awesome. Well, John, thank you so much. Audience. Thanks for tuning in. Make sure to visit art of the for the notes, the transcript, links to everything patent Professor related. And of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the gadget flow, and product type. John, thank you so much for joining us today on art of the kickstart


perfect Thanks for


Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the kickstart the show about building a business world in life with crowdfunding. If you've enjoyed today's episode, awesome, make sure to visit art of the and tell us all about it. There you'll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter Guide to Crushing it. And of course, if you love this episode a lot. Leave us a review at art of the it helps more inventors, entrepreneurs and startups find the show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on inventus Thanks again for tuning in. And we'll see you again next week.

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