Sometimes when an article possibility doesn’t materialize, it presents a moment of serendipity. I needed someone who could speak from experience and answer questions about intellectual property (IP) law, the importance of patents and related subjects.
If you’re like me, you’d think first of patent lawyers, who (I’ve since learned) are not just highly specialized in law, they often have earned a Ph.D. in another area, as well. (Yes, we will have an article from a patent attorney who specializes in the textile industry later this month!) But who else, I thought, could offer a useful perspective?
Well, duh. The entrepreneurs and innovators who have had to make decisions about their own intellectual property! They’re they ones who have staked their lives and careers on a new idea. I picture them lying awake night after night terrified about the venture to which they’ve committed not just themselves, but others close to them. They’ve worked weeks, months, or longer without a proper paycheck. They had a dream that sounded infallible over beers with friends in college. They may have turned down grad school, job offers – maybe lucrative ones – and a reasonable life pace to live in a heightened state of anticipation, frustration and wonderment. Was it like that for them? For years?
So, what kept them going and what made their innovation take root so it could grow? I’m not saying a good patent attorney saved them from the brink, but grounding their “crazy idea” in the U.S. patent office database must have felt like being tethered to the earth after floating above it for a period of time.
I don’t create anything that has anything to do with technology, but I’ve had dreams, and I still have them. Don’t we all? How many of us act on them and persist like these innovators have, carrying on when the phone doesn’t ring and the expected email doesn’t appear?
Not all innovators and entrepreneurs have had this experience, of course. I don’t even know the personal experience of the innovators who responded to my questions for our feature, “Understanding IP law: Advice for innovators from innovators.” But I do know that none of them would say they chose an easy path to travel. Surely there was the promise of thrilling accomplishment, but I bet they’ve all spent a few sleepless nights.
I posed these questions to people with various levels of experience in the IP area, which made for a variety of interesting responses, but even so, you’ll recognize some familiar themes in their advice, and I hope you find their thoughts helpful and encouraging. Be sure to check back later in the month for a continuation of the Q&A.
My heartfelt thanks to these busy—and brilliant—entrepreneurs for so willingly sharing their stories and advice. They are among those changing the future of advanced textiles.