It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature




The Design of Everyday Things

Every inventor should take this free online course. Learn the basics of design and start observing and applying design principles.



How to Design Breakthrough Inventions

A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley


How to Build a StartUp

In this free online course, learn the key tools and steps for building a successful startup (or at least reducing the risk of failure).

Friday, November 30, 2007

November 2007 Summary

Inventors in our group gave us insight this month into the real world of innovation. Having a good idea and making a few items is just the start. You need to be creative, take risks, establish personal contacts, and persevere. A little luck helps too! What should you invent? Start with what you know best - the field in which you work. Ron Jackson (Jackson Systems), who works in the field of heating & air conditioning, has invented some 35 products (mostly unpatented) in that field. He believes that if you have a good idea, understand marketing, and beat others to the marketplace, you have a good chance of dominating the market. Protecting that advantage with a patent may be a good idea if your invention is unique and you think someone might infringe. How do you create a place for your invention in the marketplace? Let the public know about your invention. Bob Dunlap (The Cement Solution) brings attention to his Reusable Concrete Mixing Bag in a YouTube video, in holding the Guiness Book World Record of fastest concrete mixer, and by appearing on HGTV coverage of the 2007 National Hardware Show. A video can attract viewers to your website. And website data can surprise you - Bob learned that over 75% of his website customers are women who like the convenience of mixing concrete without creating a mess. How do you finance early stages of innovation? The first sources of funding are often yourself, friends, and family. Matt Thie (Ameriflo) and others helped us understand that a prototype of your invention can:
  • lead you to optimize your invention before you invest in manufacturing
  • help you gain investors - reality is more persuasive than possibility
  • help you test the market - does your invention have the "Gee Whiz! factor" in the eyes of consumers?
You also need to think about manufacturing and distribution. You may pay less for a large order from a manufacturer, but this increases your risk of losing money from unsold items. If you plan to export items, you may need to label your product in various languages. Don't forget about pricing, shipping, taxes, and collecting debt.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

October 2007 Summary

Mr. John Daniluck of the law firm Bingham McHale spoke to us about recent actual and potential changes to the patent system. As of 11/1/2007, there are two major changes to Title 37 - Code of Federal Regulations:
  1. In seeking patent protection for an invention, you are limited to filing one family of 3 patent applications (1 original application and 2 continuation applications) and 1 request for continued examination of an application, unless you make a "showing" of why you need more.
  2. Each of those applications is limited to 5 independent claims and 25 total claims (allowing you 15 independent claims and 75 total claims for the family of applications), unless you present an examination support document for all the claims of that application.
These changes could affect your strategy for best protecting your invention. You may want to consult a patent attorney/agent. More change may be on the way. On 9/7/2007 bill HR 1908 passed the House. If the bill passes the Senate, U.S. patent law will likely change from granting a patent to the "first inventor", to granting a patent to the "first inventor to file" a patent application. Learn more and contact your Senators to make sure they include your interests in their actions. "First inventor" has been a cornerstone of the small inventor's success. Although "first to file" will help harmonize U.S. patent law with the rest of the world (particularly advantageous to big corporations), it may hinder the small inventor's success. We thank Mr. Daniluck for helping us understand these significant changes. Note: On 10/31/2007 the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Virginia issued a Preliminary Injunction enjoining the USPTO from implementing the changes in the Claims and Continuations Final Rule. Therefore, the changes to the rules of practice in the Claims and Continuations Final Rule, including the October 10 clarifications, did not go into effect on November 1, 2007. USPTO employees are to continue processing and examining patent applications under the rules and procedures in effect 10/31/2007, until further notice.

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Kenton Brett
6023685 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6704713 Computer controlled event ticket auctioning system
6907405 Computer controlled priority right auctioning system
7647269 Computer-based right distribution system with reserve pricing
7698210 Computer-based right distribution system
7720746 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
7747507 Computer controlled auction system
7769673 Computer-based right distribution system with request reallocation
7992631 System and method for seasonal energy storage
8073765 Computer-based right distribution system with password protection
8128407 Method and system for teaching math
8538856 Computer-based right distribution system
8732033 Computer-based right distribution system with temporal variation
9614733 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system
9900220 Methods and systems for reducing burst usage of a networked computer system

James Dougherty
8622039 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9488074 Rockerless desmodromic valve system
9366158 Unitary cam follower and valve preload spring for a desmodromic valve mechanism

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Matt Thie
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver
8146592 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid flow or conserving fluid flow
8230859 Method and apparatus for regulating fluid

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

Patent Document of the Month

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