The Virtual CMO Podcast
Season 5, Episode 6
Hosted By: Eric Dickmann
With Guest: Devin Miller
Our Featured Guest
Patent and Trademark Attorney
Founder - Miller IP Law
In this episode, host Eric Dickmann speaks with Devin Miller, Founder and CEO of Miller IP Law. Devin just loves startups! He established his own first startup while earning his Law & MBA degrees. Since then, Devin has set up several 7/8 figure startups and enjoyed every minute of it.
He has a real passion for a new business model- the prospect of a business startup always makes D heart race! Devin is an entrepreneur and a patent and trademark attorney. He obtained several degrees including a Law degree (JD) and a Masters in Business Administration. Miller even has degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mandarin Chinese! While working for a large law firm helping Fortune 100 clients like Amazon.com, Intel, Redhat, and Ford with their intellectual property, he quickly realized that there weren’t many good intellectual property legal resources out there for start-ups and small businesses.
As an entrepreneur himself, Devin wanted to help other small business owners learn about patents, trademarks, and copyrights so they can build value into their businesses and protect their assets. In addition to founding and running his own patent and trademark law firm, Miller IP Law, Devin is the co-founder of several startups including a multi-million dollar startup for wearable glucose monitoring. He also runs a product development company that helps startups and small businesses with developing their ideas and products.
"Take a journey with different entrepreneurs and inventors on their path to startups and small businesses to hear their ups and downs, their successes and failures, and how their journey has been on the startup road."
The Inventive Journey Podcast is an entrepreneurship podcast hosted by Devin Miller. Here, Devin interviews accomplished entrepreneurs, CEOs, and venture capitalists about their road to success and stability. The Inventive Journey Podcast aims to help startup businesses reach their utmost potential and maximize their profit. As of now, The Inventive Journey has 207 episodes. Each episode runs for around 20-30 minutes.
My quick recommendation is get that patent earlier. You have one year from the time you originally put it in the public domain. Within what you can file a patent, If you miss that year everybody gets to use it. And so we'll get people to walk in- Oh it's been three years. We've been selling this product. Finally starting to take off. So that's kind of the one thing where they get far enough along, that they finally decide they'll get around to it . And by that time it's usually more costly and more difficult."
What We Discussed with Devin
On this episode, host Eric Dickmann interviews Devin Miller about protecting your product innovations and intellectual property. Here are some highlights of our conversation:
- [00:07:30] When is the best time to file a patent for your product? - Devin recommends businesses to file a patent as early as possible. Many businesses tend to file a patent once their product becomes successful. However, whether the product is a million-dollar idea or not, it is important to patent it because having a patent will protect the product from being duplicated by others. If your unpatented product is posted in a public domain, the resources and ideas can be freely copied, sold, and reproduced by anyone, anywhere.
- [00:10:34] Two standards to consider when you get into patentability - Devin talks about the two standards to consider when filing for a patent- Novelty and Obviousness. Novelty is basically telling people that you are the first to conceptualize the idea or create the product. On the other hand, Obviousness is if you were to take two or more things already on the marketplace combine them, then you're really not adding anything new; you're just combining two things already out there in an obvious way.
- [00:14:41] How do patents work? - People often have a bias of claiming that the person who first presented the concept is the one who actually developed the product. In most situations, that's not the truth. People file patents to ensure that all the efforts they put into research and development and design are protected. It's a safeguard so that competitors don't just come in, get the concept, and just add minor variations to the output to make their version much more attractive to the market.
- [00:16:39] How about software patents? - There are many variations in terms of processes and functions in software so it isn't easy to file for a software patent. Devin adds that in terms of software, the pendulum kind of swings back and forth. The law is in the middle when it comes to software patent discussions. Despite this, there is always room to navigate and take a deeper look into this area.
- [00:20:12] Can you file patents for unreleased products or unfinished concepts? - Many companies develop things in the lab that never turn into a final product, so they're patenting little parts of products or unreleased ideas. Devin discusses that it is important for business owners to understand the core of their product, by identifying the most valuable features and then start protecting them.
- [00:26:01] Finding the perfect brand name - For entrepreneurs who are just starting their business, it may be a real challenge to come up with a unique name since almost every word in the dictionary is probably taken by someone. Business owners don't want to end up choosing a company name that is already taken but someone who might be tempted to sue!
- [00:28:31] Where does the line get drawn? - Your brand name, company name, and logo are all technically different. Each one of those could be trademarked separately. The general line is anything that is source identifying every brand meaning, when people see that, whether it's the name of a company, logo ,color, smell, or whatever it is, it is a source identification that when they see , hear or smell it, they picture your brand.
- [00:34:44] How do you determine the value of your patent? Patents that are just sitting on the shelf and not earning any money could be valuable to the right buyer. Devin advises business owners to consult with a patent attorney to determine the worth of their patents.
- [00:37:54] What are the rights of employees when they develop something within company grounds? - There are instances that outside of their job description, employees conceptualize ideas and build products unrelated to their employment. Some companies may claim that the employee's concept is theirs since the person is working for them. You have to know your rights as the original creator of a product. Devin shares that if employees wish to protect themselves, the first thing they should do is read the employment agreement and understand what they're actually signing. Some employers will be very lax and are not going to have very many restrictions. Others are going to be very restrictive and aggressive in what employees can and can't do. If employees want to produce an idea that is entirely unrelated to their current employment, they shouldn't do any work on company time or equipment. Employees can lose rights to their inventions if employers can prove it was development using on their time or using their resources.