Igniting Innovation: Tips, Sparks and Ideas for Acting on Innovation

3 Steps to Success with Patents

Posted by David Lafkas on Sep 3, 2015 10:00:00 AM

After a decade and a half of working with patents, I still have people who will approach me with their “million dollar idea.”  As a Leader, how do you determine what next ideas brought to your desk should be pursued?

ThinkstockPhotos-469163033It is actually not as hard as you think, as all you need is more of the right information.  And that right information is free and available within your organization.

Often I have seen where Leadership is told an idea - much like I am by inventors.  Of course, it is often just that - an “idea” or a concept, but nothing that has ever been made tangible.  And making the invention tangible in some way is critical to understanding if the idea actually works and how the parts (or steps) interact.One of the fastest ways to start making an invention tangible is to write it down.  I have found that upwards of 50% of those will possible inventions will walk away from their idea when they right it down.  



And why do they walk away from it?  They walk away because they often find that it really is not that inventive when they get it out of their mind and onto paper, or they find the invention really doesn’t work the way they conceived. 

So, as a leader, how can you improve your innovation success within your organization?

  1. Encourage Writing.  This is the foundation of having innovation success.  As the leader, you cannot truly evaluate and understand an invention unless the inventor can clearly convey WHAT the invention is.  And they shouldn’t worry about the legalese - seriously - leave that to the patent attorneys.  Your role is to encourage explanations of inventions in writing that everyone in the organization can understand.
  2. Support Searching.  Yes, lawyers are NOT required to do a first search for similar inventions.  Everyone in your organization should be doing this as basic research as they are working.  Not only will it aid in determining whether or not the idea/invention has already been done - it may spark new ideas for other inventions.  Would you check the weather at a travel destination before leaving on a trip?  Of course you would - so you would know what to pack.  The same is true with patents.  Support searching for similar inventions so you have a better idea of the landscape before you invest financially as an organization.  
  3. Identify Differences.  Enable those creating the inventions to identify what truly makes the invention DIFFERENT from similar inventions.  The Patent Office doesn’t care if the invention is better, faster, cheaper than anything else out there.  They just want to know how the invention is DIFFERENT in its FEATURES or steps.  Having those closest to the work point out differences early increases speed and decreases risk with your innovation.


Learn More About Patents

Topics: Leading Innovation, Patents

David Lafkas

Written by David Lafkas

David is Eureka! Ranch’s legal eagle, or more traditionally our patent and trademark authority, not only serving as in-house counsel at Eureka! Ranch, but also evangelizing on the importance of patents in today’s world of innovation to stay ahead of your competition. As an Innovation Engineering Black Belt, David has helped numerous companies develop patentable new products and services. Most recently, he’s supported High Liner Foods in Canada and the US on their comprehensive journey to achieve a culture of innovation as they not only create breakthrough seafood ideas, but also broadly educate employees and implement systems driven innovation across the corporation. David received a biomedical engineering degree from the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology and his juris doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, the 4th oldest law school in the country. He lives in Cincinnati with his rescue dog, Chauncey.

Welcome to the first blog from the Eureka! Ranch and Innovation Engineering Institute team.  Here you will find a diverse group of innovators dedicated to changing the world by transforming innovation from a random gamble to a reliable system that delivers increased innovation speed and decreased risk.


So, many exciting things are going on at Eureka! Ranch and with Innovation Engineering don't miss out on anything:

Go to Website



Subscribe to No Guru Needed

Recent Posts