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).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 2016

Never be satisfied with anything, everything can be done better than it is now being done.   — Eli Lilly, Jr.

Ron Jackson (president, Jackson Systems; longtime member of the Indiana Inventors Association; and holder of several patents) left his HVAC company and inventing long enough to share his unbridled enthusiasm for them with us.  “Controls Done Right”— his company’s trademark—conveys Mr. Jackson’s inventive spirit.  Here are some of Mr. Jackson’s suggestions for inventors and innovators.
If you can, invent for contractors or original equipment manufacturers.  You won’t spend time and money educating them on the value of your invention; they already know.  Keep your inventions simple so that users will like them.
Look at items or methods throughout your day and ask: What’s wrong with them?  How can I improve them?  Write down your answers so you don’t forget them.
Develop a portfolio of inventions in each technology you work with.  A group of products is easier to license or sell than is a single product.
To avoid reinventing the wheel, see if someone has already developed your idea.  Search for your idea on Google’s Images and in patent documents available through FreePatentsOnline.
Unless you want to start your own business, licensing may be the best way to profit from your invention.  Receiving 5% of the wholesale price is typical.
Before trying to license your invention, file a patent application (provisional or nonprovisional) and, if a manufacturer is already making your product, have the manufacturer sign a confidentiality agreement.  Doing so will make your licensing discussions more definite and relaxed. 
One way to start the discussion with potential licensees is at a trade show.  Dress up and make a list of exhibitors who might be interested in your invention.  When one of their booths is nearly idle, ask the representative if his company works with individual inventors.  If so, ask for the name of the person in charge of national sales and ask that person if you can send him information about your invention.
Potential licensees will want to be sure that they can profit from your invention before you do.  Be able to tell them how customers will use your product and, if possible, show how your product will increase the sale of the potential licensees’ existing products.
Especially if you decide to give one licensee exclusive rights to sell your invention, be sure that your licensing agreement contains a performance clause.  Companies often want an exclusive license so that they can keep your product out of the market.
Innovation is 20% inventing and 80% marketing.  Give your product a memorable name and develop an attractive brochure describing the benefits it provides.
Don’t ask friends and relatives to evaluate your invention.  They usually won’t tell you what they really think.
Buy a comprehensive set of online domain names that will drive potential customers to your Web site and that will keep those customers from sites selling knockoffs of your invention.
Filing a provisional application for a patent gives you the right to sell products marked “patent pending” during the year your application is active.  That notice might deter competitors from developing your invention.
Prepare for disappointment and expense when you file a nonprovisional application for a patent.  USPTO patent examiners often reject an application until prosecution persuades them that the application has merit.  Prosecution can easily cost more than writing the application.
Innovation is all about having fun.  If you aren’t having fun, you probably won’t succeed because the challenges are so great.  Enthusiasm helps build teams.  Protect your ideas, but share them too because you will learn a lot.
Thank you for energizing us with your enthusiasm and expertise, Mr. Jackson!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

February 2016

Joshua Springer (president, GrinOn Industries, Indianapolis) had a eureka moment at his father’s birthday party when he imagined a beer container that would fill from the bottom.  Four days later he had a prototype.  Eight years and two U.S. patents later (US8763655, US8777182), the worldwide market for his invention provides an estimated annual revenue of $10-20 million.

Televised interviews with CNN and Inside Indiana Business have showcased Mr. Springer’s pioneering and “paper clip simple” beer dispensing system.  In its most prevalent mode, a nozzle pushes up a detachable magnet from the bottom of a plastic cup, fills the cup with beer, and retracts as the magnet seals the bottom of the cup.  This highly efficient automated system wastes no beer (in contrast to most dispensing methods that waste 30%) and dispenses beer 300 times faster than is typical with traditional methods.  Because of his invention, the number of people in line for beer at an athletic event depends only on how fast the seller can ring up sales.  Happy vendors with happy customers.  Everyone grins.

Mr. Springer found that having to start on a shoestring budget was an advantage.  A lack of money forced him to think hard and to keep his invention simple.  The result is a reliable, efficient, low maintenance product.

For Mr. Springer, the best part of success is the journey that made him who he is today.  One lesson he learned is that starting a business is a rollercoaster and that open communication with one’s spouse during the ups and downs is important.  He looks forward to continuing his journey and to an ever brighter future.

Thank you for sharing your interesting journey with us, Mr. Springer!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 2016

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.
- Yogi Berra

Are you spinning your wheels?  Only dreaming instead of also doing?  Taking decades to do what can be done in months?  If so, you are not alone.  A lot of folks, including inventors, let life pass them by.  Life is too precious for that.

Setting goals can help you live a full and exciting life, which includes bringing your inventions to market.  Richard McVicker (member of the Indiana Inventors Association for more than 40 years, patent illustrator at Barnes & Thornburg LLP for 49 years, and patent-holding inventor for 55 years) told us how.  Try it; you’ll like it.

A goal is a specific, attainable, and major accomplishment that you crave with your whole being.  Want it so badly that you imagine it with all of your senses.  Figure out: what you want and when you want it; who will benefit from it; and what you will do and when you will do it to achieve your goal.  Think of goals as pacts with yourself.

Personal—strongly motivated by your inner self; very disappointing if not attained
Attainable—something you can really accomplish within from 5 to 10 years
Challenging—something big that requires a major effort from you and help from others
Tangible—create and keep reminders of how the result will look, feel, smell, taste, and sound; write the goal on paper and share it so others can help you and hold you accountable
Specific—plan the details of who, what, when, where, why, and how

Make attaining your goals enjoyable by harmonizing them with the rest of your life.

Identity—See yourself as a winner, as someone who persists until you accomplish what you set out to do.
Family—Involve, rather than neglect, your family.  Find and share aspects of your goal that interest members of your family.
Social—Build and lead strong teams that help you achieve your goal.
Spiritual— Set a goal that matters to you, that makes you feel worthwhile to some person, cause, ideal, or worldview.
Education—Use your goal to help you learn something new every day and to grow as a person.  Learn from your mistakes and learn to adapt your goals to changes in your life.
Finances—Be realistic and budget expenses in line with the rest of your life.  Can you design the results of your goals, or how you achieve them, to help people in need?
Health— Minimize stress by making your goal fun to achieve.  Breaking a goal into subgoals that you work on for as little as 15 minutes each day will lead to big results.  Can you exercise while thinking of solutions to problems or make a balanced diet part of your goal?

Setting and working toward a goal makes you strong.  Concentrating your efforts on something that matters a lot to you:

Gives you energy and a positive attitude;
Drives away fear of failure;
Empowers you to persist through the distractions and setbacks that life brings;
Helps you turn a wish into reality; and
Makes your decisions easier.

Believe it—goals can improve your life!

Thank you for sharing your insights with us, Mr. McVicker!

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

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