Inventing or coming up with an idea for a new and useful innovation is one thing, knowing how to protect your intellectual property so you can reap the benefits of your hard won efforts is another.
This reality check was just one of the messages that attendees took away from Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) February 8th workshop, “Patents: Adding Fuel to the Fire of Genius.”
Thirty-five participants gathered at the MEDB Malcolm Center in Kihei to learn the ins and outs of securing a patent. For a few, it was a refresher course since they had already applied for and won one or more patents; however, the vast majority were there to learn and ask questions about this very complex procedure.
Helping them navigate the formidable terrain of the patent application process and patent law was Dr. Victoria Brewster, a partner at FisherBroyles, LLP in Palo Alto, Calif. Since 1996, Brewster’s legal practice has focused on worldwide patent preparation and prosecution; strategic counseling; licensing assistance; and due diligence portfolio reviews to life sciences and pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and venture capital groups.
Those who attended MEDB’s Patent Workshop expressed value in participating:
Edward Codelin and Renee Kaiama from Kula shared, “We’ve had different ideas but never really knew how the patent process worked. We’ve researched it, looked it up on the internet – it’s complicated. This workshop was very helpful. Dr. Brewster broke this complex topic down into more simplified steps so you felt less overwhelmed.”
Laurent Zahnd from Makawao wanted to learn more about patents to discover whether it was appropriate for his startup. “We’re exploring ways to protect ourselves from the competition.”
When Brewster was asked what the most important advice she could give those pursuing a patent, she responded, “I highly recommend that those seeking a patent hire an attorney.” Brewster further advised attendees to “Interview attorneys before selecting one and make sure the person you select understands your product area and is able to appreciate the limitations of your business, meaning your budget.”
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, over 400 Utility Patent awards were granted to resident Maui County inventors between the years of 2000 and 2015.
“Clearly there’s an interest in patents and the need to understand patentability as a way of protecting the fruits of one’s inventiveness and hard work,” said Frank De Rego Jr., Director of Business Development Projects at MEDB. “We’re delighted to have offered this workshop to assist Maui’s inventors and entrepreneurs. We look forward to presenting other events focused on helping small businesses succeed.”
The February 8th workshop was presented by the Maui Economic Development Board Inc. Event sponsor was the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.
The patent workshop was part of MEDB’s Innovation Series that aims to lead and inspire innovation in our business community as a means of building a vibrant, prosperous, and diversified economy for the citizens of Maui County.