October 18th, 2022
With Rich Goldstein, a highly sought-after industry leader, is a Principal Patent Attorney, an author, speaker, and Founder of Goldstein Patent Law. Rich works with entrepreneurs to help them protect their ideas, products, and brands with patents and trademarks. Over the past 25 years, he has secured more than 2,000 patents. He has a natural ability to explain complex legal topics in simple terms, which he uses to educate and empower his clients.
As the son of an engineer, Rich learned to appreciate innovation at a young age. Technical knowledge has always come naturally, which led him to earn a degree in electrical engineering— a foundation that still serves him today as a patent attorney. As a patent lawyer, this engineering background gives Rich a competitive edge — allowing him to understand design drafts at a deeper level than most. Notably, Rich launched his firm when he was still fresh out of law school. Like many entrepreneurs, Rich built his business from the ground up. Today, Goldstein Patent Law serves clients across the nation with patent, trademark, copyright, and international protection services.
Also, Rich is host of the “Innovations and Breakthroughs” podcast and is the author of the Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent, published by the American Bar Association.
From blueprints to bottom lines, Rich brings extraordinary IP knowledge — and he’s using it to transform the way entrepreneurs leverage it to achieve success.
Join us for this conversation to learn about patents (we have not yet had a conversation on the podcast about patents!) You will learn what they protect, who needs them, and when to pursue a patent for your idea. You will enjoy hearing about Rich’s entrepreneurial journey as he launched his legal practice, started a magazine and became a content creator (pre-internet) to reach inventors and entrepreneurs, and continued to build his practice.
Biggest takeaways (or quotes) you don’t want to miss:
- Why is the legal business not the easiest business to scale?
- “Every patent has a scope of protection… some patents are broad and cover a whole new concept.” (While others are limited).
- What is a patent? And who needs them?
- “There’s risk tolerance, but there’s also confidence.” (When it comes to building a business).
“When there’s an overlap between the thing that makes it patentable (i.e. the thing that makes it different), and the thing that makes it marketable (the thing that people want in the market)… that’s when you want to get a patent.”-Rich Goldstein
Check out these highlights:
- 07:39 Rich shares some strategies that he used when he launched his practice.
- 15:41 What’s the difference between entrepreneurs and average individual in terms of risk tolerance?
- 21:05 Rich’s favorite part about working with entrepreneurs.
- 26:44 How do patents and trademarks differ?
- 29:42 This is what happens once you file the patent application…
- 41:47 What Rich wishes people knew about patents?
How to get in touch with Rich:
On social media:
Special offer for listeners: You can get a copy of his book “The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent” here.
Imperfect Show Notes
We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below.
GGGB Intro 00:00
Here’s what to expect today…
Rich Goldstein 00:02
The thing that someone who needs to ask themselves is like, okay, so if I could get a patent on this, once now I’ve done research and I found out like, what’s the closest thing to it? I see what makes mine different, then presumably, what you’d get a patent on is whatever is actually different about it. And then you have to ask yourself, like, okay, so this difference, if I can get a patent on that, is that going to matter? Is it going to matter to the marketplace? Or the customer is going to want the product because it has that little release lever that like none of the other products have, right? Then are my competitors going to say, yeah, we’d love to make a product like that. But, you know, unless we can make it with that release lever, because everybody wants that release lever. Like, we don’t want to do it. And we can’t do it because because she’s got a patent on that. That’s the point is you want to find if that there’s an overlap between the thing that makes it patentable thing that makes it different, right. And the thing that makes it marketable the thing that people want in the market.
GGGB Intro 01:10
The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:46
Alrighty, welcome. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based here in Seattle, Washington, serving online information entrepreneurs throughout the US and the world. Welcome to another episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business™. I am super excited to welcome my new friend Rich Goldstein today. Welcome, Rich.
Rich Goldstein 02:08
Thanks so much. Hello. It’s great to be here.
Heather Pearce Campbell 02:10
It’s so good to be… it’s so good to have you here. And this is a conversation I’ve not yet had on the podcast. So I’m super happy about this. For those of you that don’t know, Rich, the very brief introduction is that, Rich works with entrepreneurs to help them protect their ideas, products and brands, with patents and trademarks. Over the past 20 years, he has obtained more than 2000 patents for his clients. Rich is the host of the “Innovations and Breakthroughs” podcast and is the author of the consumer guide to obtaining a patent published by the American Bar Association. Woohoo, there it is, for those of you not watching yet just held it up. It’s a good looking book Rich, I like the colors. Not too far off from my old branding. That’s my yeah, if…
Rich Goldstein 03:01
I owe the brand thing to the American Bar Association, though they came up with it. Nothing to do with me.
Heather Pearce Campbell 03:08
Right. It’s good. It didn’t instill a lot of confidence. Yeah, it works. So Rich and I were connected through a mutual acquaintance. And I was an immediate fan. Rich, I would love for you to share your story, because I know we’ve got some overlaps between our stories, right? And we talked a little on your podcast. And if you’re listening, you definitely need to pop over and listen to Rich’s podcast innovations and breakthroughs, where he talks with entrepreneurs about entrepreneurship, and it’s awesome. But Rich, will you share with us a little bit about your own journey, especially early on in your career?
Rich Goldstein 03:50
Yeah, absolutely. And so I think it’s like what to zone in on but the thing that occurs to me is that I was studying electrical engineering. And I thought I was going to become an electrical engineer until I learned that the reality of being an engineer is that you don’t get to work on lots of different cool things all the time. You get to work on one project for years at a time. And not even like designing some cool thing. But designing some piece of a piece of that. Make the cool thing. And, you know, if you’re working in the aeronautics industry, you’re not designing an airplane, you’re designing the control system for the ventilation button above your seat, and then you work on that for five years.
Heather Pearce Campbell 04:38
Oh my god. What’s cracking me up about this as I was talking to a neighbor the other day, we had some some neighbors move in actually right before the pandemic so the timing was really bad because we wanted to get to know them and then we were all in lockdown. And so we’re actually just now getting to know them a bit better. And I was asking her about her husband’s work and she’s an engineering, she was like, it’s in, she kind of like held up like did the motion you just did. It’s this little thing on a board and I don’t even she’s like, I actually don’t even know how to describe it. That’s in line with my idea of an electrical engineer.
Rich Goldstein 05:18
When they give you the constraints, you’re like, Okay, so this system is going to have this set of inputs. This is what the power source is, it needs to operate within this temperature range. And like, you get your design constraints. And then it’s like, okay, build what’s inside of that black box right there and work on it for five years. So I learned this while I was studying electrical engineering. And I said, You know what, that’s just not for me. And so what I ended up doing was, well, I learned about a couple of different career paths, and one of them was to become a patent lawyer, where essentially, you need to have an engineering background and then go to law school. And that’s just what I did. And, and so I started my own law firm right out of law school, as like, that’s where our start.
Heather Pearce Campbell 06:10
This is the part that I wanted to hear.
Rich Goldstein 06:13
Right. And, you know, and essentially, now, and for the past 20 years, I get to work on something different every day.
Heather Pearce Campbell 06:22
Yeah, I bet. That piece of you that hated the engineering path, once you learned what it was, loves this, I get to work on something new every day approach, right.
Rich Goldstein 06:33
And that piece of me will be called the odd part of me.
Heather Pearce Campbell 06:39
So good. Well, I think as an entrepreneur, that part is required, isn’t it? I mean, like essential operating equipment.
Rich Goldstein 06:46
Yeah, I would say it’s pretty funny I, that 90% of my entrepreneur friends are as odd as I am. Yeah, I think it’s kind of the route to a lot of people’s creativity. It’s kind of the thing that you might say it has you moved from topic to topic, but it’s also the thing that has you connect things that was seemingly unrelated before, and that’s what creativity is just connecting things in a way that is a bit unexpected. And, you know, so that’s kind of how my brain works.
Heather Pearce Campbell 07:20
Yeah, absolutely. Will talk to us just for a minute, because I think there are parallels between your story even in launching your practice, right? Out of law school, and what a lot of entrepreneurs face in beginning a business, will you share a few of the strategies that you used in building your practice?
Rich Goldstein 07:38
Oh, yeah, absolutely. So it’s like the one strategy was that while I was still in law school, getting ready to graduate, I launched a magazine for inventors. So essentially, it was a 32-page magazine, where I had articles that explains how you go about protecting something, and even how you go about pursuing a new product idea and getting a prototype manufactured interviews with other inventors. And I advertised my law firm in the magazine, like, took the back cover ad for me. So. So essentially, I was getting this magazine out to people that were essentially potential clients. Yeah. And it led to the first crop of business. It was really the first channel I created for for getting new business.
Heather Pearce Campbell 08:39
Right. This was pre-internet, right?
Rich Goldstein 08:42
Yeah. So pre-internet. So you could say I was doing content marketing, in print form back in the 90s.
Heather Pearce Campbell 08:48
And I love that you just get to the like, How can I advertise and other people’s stuff? And like, you just created the magazine?
Rich Goldstein 08:55
Yeah, exactly. And that was the first thing I did. But then I did advertise and other people stuff in the sense that I also took an ad in the Yellow Pages, which, you know, on the patent attorneys, I kind of took the biggest ad of in that category for patent attorneys. And then like, I sought to do it in other in other areas as well, if you remember Yellow Pages, if anyone here listening remembers Yellow Pages, they would find him by geographic area, like you might have one for so you’re in Seattle area, right? So that could have been a Seattle book. And then like one in Bellevue or in the other. They were broken up into different books. So I kind of did that around New York. I was in the Staten Island book, The Brooklyn book, The Queens book, The Manhattan Yellow Pages and and such. And then I also opened the offices in California in Los Angeles and San Francisco and I had all the different Yellow Page books and those areas. I took the biggest add on the patent attorneys, and that’s kind of how I got things rolling.
Heather Pearce Campbell 10:00
Talk to us also about what it took for you to build out because I know you now lead a team of people what it took to build out. Right, your team and your business and opening multiple offices.
Rich Goldstein 10:12
Yeah, well, I mean, I guess there’s a lot of levels to that of like, what it took, I mean, to some extent, the legal business is not the easiest business to scale. Yeah, it’s really built on like, when if you start out as a sole practitioner, as an attorney, with his or her own practice, you build a clientele based upon personal relationships with your clients, right? And so then how do you move from that to now hiring someone who’s going to then be doing some of the work? And then okay, are they going to be working with the client? Or are you going to be working with the client and then communicating everything to this other attorney of what’s needed? And then they give it back to you like, how you work that that dynamic, there’s just so much to it. In traditional law firms, like the structure where they have associates, which are hired, and then partners, which then presumably, are the ones creating the clients, there’s just, there’s a lot to figure out there.
Heather Pearce Campbell 11:24
There’s a lot to it, it is a complex model, just I mean, even that initial description of like, people connect with you, you’re the expert, right? You’re the service provider, how do you then shift it to like, who delivers what, and who establishes the right relationship? Or continues the relationship? On top of the fundamentals…
Rich Goldstein 11:43
And then quality control is like, if you’re having other people work on it, it’s not like you’re doing something which is more like mechanical in the sense that, like, they just follow the process, plug somebody into the assembly line? Yeah, there’s judgment involved in every step of the way. There’s judgment involved in like what you decide to do, then this judgment along the way, and even in that thing that you decide that you’re doing for the client. So it’s, you’re hiring people that can exercise judgment in a similar way that you would, that I would, is not easy. So yeah, I mean, asking me how I grew the practice. I’ve had different iterations of my practices. Over the years, I’ve had times where I expanded to a bigger team, and then brought it back down to a smaller team or even just me for a number of years. And then I had a bigger team again, and then it was just me again. So it’s, you know, it’s kind of like it’s a work in progress.
Heather Pearce Campbell 12:50
Yeah, yeah. Well, and running a business like an organism, right? There are certain things about it that like, if you have it going great, can be healthy and functional. And then there can be certain levels of dysfunction that come in, right through no fault of your own, and then you’re dealing with something that’s dysfunctional when you’ve got people working together. Were there any any parts of it that were like standout as kind of highlights, like really enjoyable parts of the journey?
Rich Goldstein 13:23
Yeah, I mean, I should, like a lot of it, I’d say no evil. And there’s a lot of like, I don’t Can I cuss on this?
Heather Pearce Campbell 13:32
You totally can.
Rich Goldstein 13:34
No, this is like the entrepreneurs journey. There’s an artist called “gaping void” where they do these really interesting like art prints of different things that have to do with the entrepreneur journey. But my favorite one is a series of frames. And it says like, literally, it says the entrepreneurs journey. It says, Oh, shit, oh, shit. Oh, shit. Hell yeah. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, yeah. So, so yeah, it actually didn’t say hell yeah, but I’ll…
Heather Pearce Campbell 14:05
Right, I understand. So totally.
Rich Goldstein 14:08
But yeah, like, that’s literally it, right? It’s like, there are these great moments. And in between, there are a lot of like, Oh, my God, what did I get myself into moments?
Heather Pearce Campbell 14:21
How do you… How have you in the past gotten through those moments? The what did I get myself into?
Rich Goldstein 14:27
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s just important to remember who you are, who lightens case who I am. And that a lot of times just to remember how many times I’ve been in a place like that, where it just seemed like, pretty lousy. You know. I mean, over the years, I can’t even count on all my fingers and all my toes. How many times I’ve been, Oh, my God, I got payroll this week. Like, you know, something’s got to come together to make this work. And it just kind of always has, right? It’s like, sometimes never, ever comfortable. But yeah, I mean, one of the things is just remembering that like, you know, I’ve kind of in a sense been here before. Yeah. How bleak it seems in the moment?
Heather Pearce Campbell 15:16
Well, and you know, it’s interesting as you talk about that, what is it about entrepreneurs that you think, because you’re an entrepreneur, clearly you’re an attorney and an entrepreneur, but what is it about entrepreneurs that makes them different from the average individual when it comes to things like risk tolerance?
Rich Goldstein 15:38
Yeah, I mean, I almost think that begs the question, I think the difference is risk tolerance, right? It’s like, how and why that they are that way? I’m not sure. But I think the thing that really sets them apart as part is just that we’re willing to, willing to tolerate the risk. And, you know, like, the opposite. The flip side of having that risk, right, is having a stable job with a stable salary. And, you know, I can’t say that, like, I never think of, hey, wouldn’t be cool to just have a job and collect a salary. You know, like, especially in those months, and I’m sure you know what I mean, those months when, like, it’s, like, worked really hard. But I actually put money into the business. I didn’t make any money right? Like, I worked my butt off and to, you know, to clients, I think they often think like that paying us what X 1000s of dollars to do something. And they’re like, oh, yeah, that’s like, they feel like as if you put it in your pocket, you know, as opposed to like it went to pay a whole bunch of expenses. And maybe you didn’t get paid at all for doing the project, right.
Heather Pearce Campbell 16:53
Yeah, absolutely. Now, it’s so true. Well, it’s interesting, that whole, like, risk tolerance, and I was listening to a really interesting discussion on a podcast the other day, and it was actually reflecting back on some Aristotle teachings around the place of true success is actually in the mean, right? Some people become so risk averse that they live over here. Some people are so risk tolerant that they live over here. And somehow you’ve got to be able to handle both sides, but live somewhere in the middle to actually create success. And I think it is interesting to observe that continuum, you know, you meet certain personalities, where you’re like, oh, I can see where they are on the risk tolerance scale, right? And, you know, even statistics around longevity, like really interesting things that all relate actually to this topic. It’s fascinating.
Rich Goldstein 17:47
No, it’s really interesting. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a lot of stuff that I don’t have, right. Like, I’ve got a friend who keeps going straight through the finish line, wow, maybe I’ve given up like, I used to be involved in running an organization that did weekend courses. And then like, you know, it was, we were headed into the weekend, and it was like, under enrolled and like, I have this friend who’s still calling people like 11 o’clock at night, to get someone to show up at this course, that they never heard of the following morning, at 8am. And it’s like, you know, I like to me, like I gave up like, days ago, I’m like, I’m not calling anyone about going to do a course this weekend. Like, it’s just not something about it. Like, I don’t have that gene, right. I don’t have our juristic. But like, deal to him, it’s like, you know, until, you know, until 9am, like, I’m gonna keep going. Good for you. Like, I don’t have that. So, I mean, there’s some entrepreneurs that are kind of, like, you know, like, really have got the staff. I’ve got some of the stuff.
Heather Pearce Campbell 18:57
Yeah, well, you know, really everything is a continuum, right? And you think about different personality traits, and even around, you know, motivation, what motivates us to do certain things, and I think, you know, we’re all somewhere on each of the continuums. And it being somewhere like on that end of the continuum is also going to have its drawbacks in regards to other of our values and the way that they’re expressed in our work or life. So it’s, you know, it is so fascinating to watch where people, you know, really show up and what that’s in regards to, but I do think there is something that makes most entrepreneurs really pretty unique, you know, when you look at the population as a whole, because statistic wise, I think less than 10% of people ever become entrepreneurs and are entrepreneurial. Right. So there is something.
Rich Goldstein 19:52
Yeah, yeah. And I think though a big part of it, too, is confidence, right? So there’s there’s risk to tolerance, but there’s also confidence because like I could tell you, like for myself, like, how far I’m willing to go and how like even the actions I take is a function of confidence. Like when I’m feeling really confident, I’ll do lots of things. And I’ll make, you know, judgment calls about stuff when I’m not feeling very confident. Kind of don’t feel like taking any old action. Like even deciding whether my office door should be open or closed. I’m just kind of like, I don’t even know like, like something really simple like that. Yeah. Kind of leave it in the middle between open and close. I don’t know.
Heather Pearce Campbell 20:41
Oh, my gosh, is that confidence? Or is it just decision fatigue? Right.
Rich Goldstein 20:45
No, but yeah, I guess that’s part of it. But I think the confidence and decisiveness, yeah, and kind of go together in a certain way.
Heather Pearce Campbell 20:53
Yeah, totally. What has been your favorite part about working with entrepreneurs?
Rich Goldstein 21:03
Well, I mean, I love value, like value is one of my favorite things. Seeing where there’s value, and providing value. Like that’s exciting to me, that’s fun for me. And so like, with entrepreneurs, you typically can see where the value exactly is. So if I was working with big corporations, and just working on their patent portfolio, and like the actions I take, or kind of, so I don’t want to say disconnected. But it’s so such a tenuous connection. It’s like, if I was able to get the patent for Ford Motor Company, let’s say, like, is, are you gonna feel a ripple in that pond in any way? Like, probably not, you know, it’s like in that ocean, right, you’re gonna notice a difference. So there’s not a lot of like, connection to the value there. But when you’re working with entrepreneurs, there’s just an immediate connection to the value, especially if you’re tuned in to what their goals are, what they’re seeking to accomplish. And there’s a way in which you connect the work that you’re doing with what they’re looking to accomplish. So like, I think that’s my favorite part of work with entrepreneurs is just being closely in touch with value creation.
Heather Pearce Campbell 22:33
Yeah, I love that so much.
Heather Pearce Campbell 22:36
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Heather Pearce Campbell 25:14
You know, most of us, regardless of what we’re doing, right, we’re in the business of solving problems and bringing some sort of value to our clients. And yet, I am really fascinated in the legal industry, particularly how disconnected as a whole, we’ve been actually to this topic that you’re talking about right now. Because the legal model, I think, would look really different. If we had a whole industry of people tuned into this question of like, what is the value that I’m bringing, I think we deliver our services differently, we’d have a really different looking model set up and we don’t, some of us, I think, have done a better job than others trying to look at that question of value and create unique value. I want to start because for people that are listening, right, we haven’t had a conversation yet on the podcast about patents. Let’s pretend you’re talking to somebody who doesn’t know anything about patents. And let’s just start with, what are they? Who needs them? Right, give us a kind of an introduction to patents.
Rich Goldstein 26:21
Okay, cool. Yeah. And like, and I’ll try to not make it boring, too. Because I can just picture a lot of patent attorneys like, well, a patent is the grant of rights, it’s a bundle of rights. And it’s the roots are based in the constitutional audit Article One, Section eight. Now. So yeah, I mean, let’s think of it this way. And then like, this is the big confusion people often have between patents, trademarks, and such. And so like, if you’re talking about a product, you’re talking about what makes a product different than other products makes it functionally different, structurally different in the design, than that’s what a patent would typically protect. If you’re talking about the name of a product, the branding of a product, and you know, the the logo, slogan, that’s all trademarks, like the way in which you identify a product in the market, they say that, Oh, that’s a Nike sneaker, oh, that’s a Coca Cola soft drink. That’s trademarks. And I can’t possibly pretend that you don’t know anything about this. I know, you know a lot about that, in particular, but just for everyone else, just to distinguish the two, right?
Heather Pearce Campbell 27:24
This is good. Because, yes, people do often get confused. And so I think it is an important distinction.
Rich Goldstein 27:30
Yeah. And so like, if you’re talking about a product, and what makes a product different than you’re talking about a patent, typically, and like two types of patents, utility patent and design patent. Design patent is really just about the ornamental appearance of something where a Utility patent is what you typically think of when you think of a patent, you think of someone in their garage, inventing something to improve upon something that existed before. So you’re making something that’s structurally different, so that it works. Yeah, structurally different for a functional purpose. That’s what a utility patent is about. And that’s typically what most people are thinking of when they’re thinking of patenting their inventions. They’re thinking of getting utility pack, which I happen to have one that just came in the mail.
Heather Pearce Campbell 28:21
So pretty, right. I’ve not seen one of those. So that’s cool.
Rich Goldstein 28:25
Yeah, they revised the actual cover design of it. I want to say about maybe two and a half years ago.
Heather Pearce Campbell 28:33
Oh, nice. Yeah, for those that are not looking it’s you’ll have to pop over to the video, but it’s like a gold seal and gold lettering and like has, you know, United States of America down the side. It’s very cool.
Rich Goldstein 28:45
Yep. Gold Seal gold lettering being held up by Goldstein.
Heather Pearce Campbell 28:52
I liked it. The thing is, looks like the patent office is at least getting one thing right, right, that the end culmination of that, which I know to be a very complex technical, highly technical process, right? You get something that USPTO just did away with actually sending out any physical certificates for a trademark. Right? You just get a digital thing now.
Rich Goldstein 29:17
Yeah. So yeah, so at least they’re still sending out the the patent certificate. Right. But yeah, so then just essentially, then, utility patent is what what you typically think of when you bought the patent, the path toward getting it involves applying for patent. So creating a patent application, patent application, it’s not like a job application. It’s not like a form you fill out. It’s more like a 30 page technical document with drawings and description that explain what the invention is how it’s different from things that have been done before, and really sets the stage for convincing the patent office to grant you a patent. And then once you file that, it gets reviewed by an examiner kind of similar to the trademark side that you’re that you work with all the time, it gets assigned to an examiner who reviews it, they may accept it or reject it. If they reject it, then we have an opportunity to respond and explain why they should have approved it. And then once they do approve it, then you will get the patent issued as a US patent and an issued United States Patent lasts for 20 years from when you initially filed.
Heather Pearce Campbell 30:31
And how long does that process take kind of start to finish, right, assuming that somebody is working with a patent attorney who knows what they’re doing?
Rich Goldstein 30:39
Yeah, typically takes a couple of years from start to finish. And another important thing to know is that once you file the application, it’s considered patent pending, which really means that that your priority is protected toward getting the patent. So that if someone filed…
Heather Pearce Campbell 30:56
Something looks like that…
Rich Goldstein 30:59
You would be ahead of them, right? If someone else filed for the same invention after you, you would be ahead of them, right? So patent pending means you’ve established your priority. And then ultimately, it needs to get reviewed and approved to be able to stop other people from making using or selling the invention. That’s what the patent is for. So being patent pending means that no one’s gonna step ahead of you. So you’re protected in a certain way. But to actually stop people from making using or selling the the invention, it needs to be reviewed, approved and issued.
Heather Pearce Campbell 31:34
Yeah, I assume even that patent pending, that was a pretty big deal to get people there, because and maybe you can share with us. Have you seen examples where you know, somebody delayed or thought about getting it? And, you know, I know, like in the trademark world, this happens frequently, right? People think, Oh, maybe I have a little time or they do a few Google Google searches, and they don’t see anything else that looks like what they’re doing. And they think you know, I’ll just sit on this for a little bit until I have the budget for it or whatever. Is it the same in the patent world? I mean, is it a race?
Rich Goldstein 32:08
Well, yeah, well, there’s two really important things there. First, I’m glad you asked question. And so first of all, yes, I mean, it does happen quite frequently that people miss out by getting to the patent office a little late. And when I say miss out, what I’m saying is that someone else beats them to it. But more frequently, that issue is that they they disclose it publicly. And once a year goes by, from the time that it’s publicly disclosed, which means essentially putting it on sale, or it’s on a website or something like that. If a year goes by then it’s too late to ever apply for a patent. No one else puts in patent application. If you’re not up against anyone else, or competing with anyone else, it’s just your own action will prevent you from getting a patent. If a year goes by, from the time you’ve publicly disclosed it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 33:02
Seems like really important information for people to know, in the trademark world that would preclude a huge majority of people from getting the…
Rich Goldstein 33:11
Getting the trademark world is different, right. And the trademark world, it’s like you could have like a Mom and Pop manufacturing business that’s going on for 20 years. And then like, you know, and then like the daughter takes over the business realizes like, oh, we never applied for a trademark. For trademark, as long as no one else has really gotten into that, that arena and kind of confused the situation around that more 20 years can go by 40 years can go by and you can still apply for trademark. Not true with pads. And so many entrepreneurs get jammed up over this.
Heather Pearce Campbell 33:47
Wow. I can see why I can see why. And especially when you think about that early, the early entrepreneurship paths that people walk where they’re just trying to figure it out and get things moving and build something, you know, there. It can be challenging for them to handle all the pieces the right way.
Rich Goldstein 34:05
Well, you’re exactly right. And it makes total sense. It’s actually a real a very, very reasonable thing to like, be launching a product and look at all of the different things that you could spend money on to to make that launch successful. And among those is like you look at patenting. And you say, Well, you know, maybe, you know, it’s expensive, maybe I’ll do it later, I’ll come back around to it. And I just over throughout my career. I’ve seen it too many times where someone kind of came to me and they said, Well, we’ve got this product, it’s doing really well. We’re just we want to protect it. We don’t care what it costs. We’re just ready to do it. And I’m like, that’s cool, you know, a client who doesn’t care what it costs, right, but I have to ask the possibly regrettable question of like, well, okay, how long have you been selling it? Yeah, well, yeah, we’ve been selling it for two and a half years and like blah, blah, blah. And it’s like people are getting ready to copy and we need to tell you, but it’s too late. You can’t. Because after a year is, you know, in the United States, you can’t apply for a patent. And they would say kind of like, what you were saying is like, Well, how would I possibly know that? Like, yeah, I mean, I guess if they taught a course in, in high school on patents, like, oh, that’s what they should tell everyone in high school, right?
Heather Pearce Campbell 35:26
You know, they need everybody in high school, even the simple like, somehow this gets missed that like, Hey, folks, you’re presumed to know the law doesn’t matter which area, right? You’re presumed to know it. And that is such a painful reality in so many ways for people. Talk to us about the people that are in the bucket of like, should definitely be considering a patent versus versus those where you might see their stuff and be like, Yeah, that’s cool, but you should not be pursuing a patent.
Rich Goldstein 35:55
Okay. Well, first of all, I think that like, the one thing this two schools of thought about patents, right, if you ask anyone about patents, they’ll have one of two things to say, they’ll be like, well, patents are really cool. patents have awesome, you need to get a patent, if you’re gonna launch a product, right? Then you have all the people that will say, now, don’t bother with patents, they change one thing, and then like they can get around your patent. Right. And so people will have one of those two opinions. And the question is like, which of them all right? And the answer is that both right at different times. And that’s I think the big lesson is that every patent has a scope, a scope of protection, some patents are broad, and they cover a whole new concept. But then later on, once that concept is not new, they might someone else might get a patent on something like that, but just very specific in the details. So then, just to answer your question, the thing that someone will need to ask themselves is like, okay, so if I could get a patent on this, once now I’ve done research, and I found out like, what’s the closest thing to it? I see what makes mine different. So then presumably, what you’d get a patent on is whatever, is actually different about it. Right? Yeah. And then you have to ask yourself, like, okay, so this difference if I can get a patent on that? Is that going to matter? Like, is it going to matter to the marketplace? Or the customer is going to want the product? Because it has that little, you know, its release lever that like none of the other products have, right? And then are my competitors going to say, yeah, we’d love to make a product like that. But, you know, unless we can make it with that release lever, because everybody wants that release lever. Like, we don’t want to do it. And we can’t do it, because, you know, because she’s got a patent on that release lever in that product. So that’s the point is you want to find, if that there is an overlap between the thing that makes it patentable thing that makes it different, right. And the thing that makes it marketable the thing that people want in the market, that’s when you want to get a patent, is when you’ve got that.
Heather Pearce Campbell 38:17
Oh, that’s so helpful. The other thing that I’m wondering about if you could answer for our listeners is, do you have to have a physical product? Or widget, I call them gadgets and gadgets, to need a patent? Or are there other folks that you think…
Rich Goldstein 38:33
You got a patent? Do you need to have one give me to build one?
Heather Pearce Campbell 38:36
Yeah. I mean, do you help folks in the software space and like in the space of they’re not building a physical thing?
Rich Goldstein 38:45
Okay. Yeah, I mean, two things at first is like, sometimes people wonder, like, do I need to actually build it to get a patent on it? So do I need to build a physical thing? The answer is no, as long as we could explain it with enough detail so that someone in the field could build it, then we can, like you could patent an aircraft that you’ve never built. But if you’re if you want to say that, like part of this aircraft is this anti gravity module, then you better be able to explain what it how an antigravity module works. Otherwise, you won’t be able to patent it. So as long as you can kind of connect the dots between existing technology, you can file a patent application on something that’s never been built. And that’s the majority of what we do. Okay. But then the other part you’re asking about software, right? Does it need to be physical? So there are a bunch of categories of what provides what’s called patentable subject matter, right? It’s like the right type of thing that you could patent. And it’s most functional, physical things right will fall within one of these categories without going to too much detail on it. And that’s another category of process. So you could patent a process and tradition Normally, it was something like, Okay, I’ve got a new way of refining steel, were wasn’t necessarily anything different about the steel, but you had a new and more efficient process, it was a series of steps that someone would go through to refine steel, and that could be patented. And then somewhere around the 1990s, it became possible or they, they kind of allowed you to consider software to be a process like that. And so the way that software gets protected, is as the steps, the steps that the software goes through when it’s interacting with the user or interacting between different computer systems or whatever. But yeah, process gets protected with a utility patent.
Heather Pearce Campbell 40:44
And I assume the litmus test is kind of the same, there has to be that unique component or something that makes it different and therefore protectable.
Rich Goldstein 40:54
Exactly, there has to be, there has to be something distinct. And without going into too much make it making too confusing. One of the requirements is that it has to be non obvious. Which kind of means just something unexpected. Like if you just kind of put things together and it expected weigh like okay, maybe no one has put them together exactly like this. But it’s within the range of expectations, then it’s not going to be patentable. So it has to be non obvious. Another way to think of that is something that’s a bit unexpected, right?
Heather Pearce Campbell 41:26
Creative, right? You have to be creative about it. Yeah. Oh, so good. What do you wish people knew? And so I promise we’ll wrap you up on time. But what do you wish people knew about patents? That I mean, aside from that very important timeline piece, right, that many people don’t?
Rich Goldstein 41:44
Yeah, well, I would say, first of all, the thing about the timeline about not about filing a patent application at an early stage, so that you aren’t prevented by your own public disclosure from ever getting a patent. That’s probably number one, two, and three on my list. The other thing though, is is this it’s like, has to do with the value of a patent. And most people think in terms of, of like, well, like the value of a patent is like, as I’m running my business, if like, if like someone else copied my product idea, they would take away from my sales. So if I was going to do say, 200,000 a month in revenue, if someone’s copying me, maybe that would drop to 150. And so then, you know, it’s worth that not losing that 50,000 in revenue, to get a patent. That’s what most people think, right? But there’s another thing which most people don’t think of, which is the value when you go to sell your business, right? When you go to sell your business, having the patent on the thing that prevents competition is going to be a multiplier, if you will, making just an example a million dollars in profit per year. And someone and he didn’t have a patent, someone might come along and pay you a three time multiple on that, or let’s say $3 million. But if they if they see that you have the patent that would prevent people from coming into the market, instead of paying you three times they might pay you six times. But six, but now six times is $6 million. That’s a $3 million difference. Because you own the IP. Yeah, that’s where the real value of patents come. And most people don’t think of that they’re thinking about the cashflow thing like, well, you know, like, I would lose some money if someone copied my idea. But think about it as an asset that will multiply the value that you get when you sell your business.
Heather Pearce Campbell 43:39
Oh, absolutely. And I mean, that just highlights across the board. Even my belief about other types of legal support that people build into their business is looking at it as an expense versus an investment that actually pays off. Right?
Rich Goldstein 43:54
Exactly. Just an investment that always gives a big ROI. If you get to exit, right? If you get sell your business, you will get a big ROI on the money you put into patenting no matter what granted, not every business gets to the point where they exit will get to the point where they sell their business. But if you do, it will be a 10 time 100 Time ROI on what you invest in IP. No, yeah, it’s huge. And that goes to the trademarks and copyrights to like an IP portfolio.
Heather Pearce Campbell 44:24
Totally anything that becomes an asset in your business that you can sell as part of the business or siphon off and sell on its own right. So Rich for folks that want to connect with you. I want to be respectful of your time, even though I would love to continue the conversation and maybe we just scheduled another conversation at some point. Where would you like people to connect with you or find you online?
Rich Goldstein 44:47
Yeah, so I think the you know, first of all, if you want to learn more about patents, you can go to my website. I’ve got great resources there, goldsteinpatentlaw.com. If you want to see is a match to work together with my team. And there’s a place there where you can set up to talk with them as well. I also say if you want to learn more about patents, you check out my book, the American Bar Association’s Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent. If you read, it’s about a four-hour read, and if you read this is probably put you in the 99th percentile of all the entrepreneurs in terms of how well you understand how patents fit into your business. And then lastly, there’s the podcasts innovations and breakthroughs. Where I have great guests like, like you, Heather, and people who have taken a path of taking something from being an idea in their head to being out there in the world. You know, that’s what I like to talk about on the podcast.
Heather Pearce Campbell 45:48
Yeah, I love it. Yes, one of the reasons I’m such a fan of you, Rich. And for folks listening, this is rare, Rich is an attorney who is very good at what he does, and he loves to educate, right so he and there’s no way around it as an entrepreneur, you just have to get a certain amount of education so that you can lead your business well and so we need people like rich, especially on very complex, you know, technically difficult parts of the path to be able to educate and step in and provide that help. So Rich, I’m so glad to know you. I’m going to share all your links including to your website, to your book, to your podcast on the show notes page. So if you’re listening pop over to legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Find Rich Goldstein’s episode there, and be sure to connect with them. Rich, what final thought would you like to leave our listeners with today?
Rich Goldstein 46:44
This was fun.
Heather Pearce Campbell 46:47
It is fun. I am so glad that we got to have a conversation, the first one on the podcast about patents and that it was with you. So I’m really grateful.
Rich Goldstein 46:57
I’m glad to be the guy that had that conversation. Thank you so much for having me.
Heather Pearce Campbell 47:01
You’re welcome. Well, we will definitely be in touch. If you’re listening pop over and connect with rich. If you are in this space of building things, creating products, including software you need a rich on your team. All right, Rich will talk to you soon. Okay, thank you.
GGGB Outro 47:21
Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at www.legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.