Kauffman Foundation Lecture

I just finished leading an intellectual property workshop for entrepreneurs here in Houghton, MI. The event was sponsored by the SmartZone, a local high-tech business incubator.

The FastTrac TechVenture Program is a learning program administered by the Kauffman Foundation. Here are some of the topics covered in this program:

  • Determine market opportunities and business strategies and pursue them successfully.
  • Define your target customers.
  • Develop a solid marketing plan.
  • Learn to assess and build a top management team.
  • Calculate the funding needed at each stage of your business and discover the best ways to access it.
  • Learn the importance of protecting your intellectual property through licenses, patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
  • Hone your elevator pitch and investor presentation.

One question was asked, and I think it would be useful to highlight. A participant asked,  “If a small technology entrepreneur has a valuable idea, what can they do to save money and protect their idea from a large company that just takes it without permission?”

Here’s a brief checklist:

1. Make sure you are an expert in your technology space. The more you know what the state of the art is, the less time and money you will spend defining your invention during the patenting process.

2. Understand the nature of your intellectual property rights. If you have a broad and solid patent, you can obtain, or threaten to obtain, a speedy injunction to stop competitors from copying your technology.

3. Patent litigation can be very expensive, with a full patent trial costing millions of dollars. A technology entrepreneur can share the expense of a patent trial with a contingency fee patent litigator. Several law firms specialize in taking these cases if: the inventor has a strong patent, there is a clear case of infringement, and the accused infringer has deep pockets. Here is one law firm that specializes in these cases.

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