Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thoughts

I just got this note from a reader. As I told him, I love what I do and for whom I do it. Thank you all and here's to better days:


The upcoming holiday reaffirms how thankful I am for the encouragement and support of my friends and colleagues. Much of my joy is found in friendships where we share similar interests, desires and mutual support.

I appreciate all the help and encouragement you have shown me.

Best wishes to you and your family for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Many Happy Returns,


Monday, November 24, 2008

Collegiate Winners

I’m a big fan of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and its Collegiate Inventors Competition. They recently announced this year’s winners, who included Timothy Lu, whom we’ve featured in the magazine.

Lu pocketed the competition’s $25,000 grand prize.

Lu, 27, created a sustainable source of antimicrobial therapies – a better way of fighting germs. The tools Lu developed may see broad use such as attacking superbugs, treating diseases like cystic fibrosis, and preventing food contamination.

Graduate winner: Paul Podsiadlo, 30, of the University of Michigan for his Ultra Strong and Stiff, Optically Transparent Plastic Nanocomposite. His invention could be used for body armor to biomedical coatings. He won $15,000.

Undergraduate winner, Greg Schroll, 22, of MIT, for his spherical robot. Potential uses include surveillance, reconnaissance and disaster zone assessment.

Visit www.invent.org/collegiate

Friday, November 21, 2008


Do you have a new product or idea that you'd like us to feature? Inventor's Digest is looking for new products or ideas that haven't hit the market or have just hit and could use a little exposure. Just make sure your products and ideas are patented and that you can supply high-res photos and you could be well on your way to become an Inventor's Digest star!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kid Contest

Attention elementary, middle and high schoolers … The Ad Council, with the support of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, has launched an advertising contest.

It’s inviting school-age teams to come up with an “Inspiring Invention” public service advertisement to motivate a new generation of children in innovation.

For more info, go to www.InspiringInvention.org.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Help for a Father

Jeff Howe, a contributing editor at Wired magazine who coined the term "crowdsourcing" and will be featured in the January issue of Inventors Digest, recently revealed on his blog,crowdsourcing.com, that his toddler son, Finn, is developmentally delayed.

It's a stirring confessional and a departure from his usual posts that deal strictly with crowdsourcing - the concept that disparate Web users from across the globe can help companies find solutions to business problems and help with new product ideas. But he tied his son's developmental issues to crowdsourcing - he basically asked his network for advice, support and help.

If you have any insights or experiences that might help him and his family, I invite you to visit his blog and weigh in. If you do, make sure to tell him Edison Nation sent ya.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Leno Is Featuring Inventors

Hey all you Jay Leno fans,
This evening the Tonight Show is featuring inventions Leno’s team saw at last month’s InventBay trade show. Visit the InventBay folks at www.inventbay.com
I heard on the radio this morning that the guy who invented the vibrating toilet seat will be on. So will Tami and Denny Palmer, inventors of something called the Thigh Glider, www.ThighGlider.com
Have a great weekend, y’all!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trademark Infringement

I’m pursuing trademark action against some guy who recently launched a Web site with a similar sounding name as my magazine.

I don’t blame the guy for riding the Inventors Digest coattails. Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery.

But it also can be the sincerest form of infringement. I’m not going to disclose the site. Why drive traffic there? But the potential imbroglio is a good reminder to all inventors, entrepreneurs and companies. Our attorneys will be contacting the offending party. Here’s what one of our legal hounds had to say to me yesterday:

“Failure by a trademark owner to police its trademarks can result in a loss of certain rights, so we think something should be done, probably along the lines of sending a cease-and-desist letter.”

Got that? If you believe someone is infringing on your trademark, you better do something about it or risk losing your rights.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adieu Libby Lu

Saks Inc. says it’s closing all of its 98 Club Libby Lu locations, laying off 1,700 employees. Libby Lu caters to girls ages 4-12, allowing them to dress up like celebrities and princesses.

We wrote earlier this year about Patricia Breggia, an inventor who pitched girl beauty products under the name "Gidgi Lu" to Mary Drolet, then at Claire’s Stores. Drolet bolted from Claire’s and founded Libby Lu shortly thereafter.

We left it to readers to decide whether Drolet stole the idea.

I never like to see people lose their jobs. But Libby Lu seemed rather dated by the time Saks bought it in 2003. Girls have a better chance of becoming scientists, engineers, technologists and even astronauts than they do becoming celebrities or princesses.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ready, Steady, Build

Wanna build a cheap steady cam? Young genius Johnny Chung Lee shows you how on his Web site and $14 in parts. Steady cams usually start at $200.
Visit www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/steadycam/
The guy also developed do-it-yourself software for the Nintendo Wii. It transforms a normal video screen into an interactive whiteboard. Thousands, including teachers, have downloaded his software, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Visit www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/wii/
He’s on our radar for a profile in 2009.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cut the Trade Deficit

Food for thought from professor Peter Morici at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business:

"Many U.S. manufacturers find it easier to locate production in China and other Asia locations than add jobs in the United States to produce goods.

"But U.S. made goods must scale considerable trade barriers and compete against subsidies provided by undervalued currencies in China, India and elsewhere in Asia. Those areas also have regulated fuel prices.

"U.S. manufacturers have received little encouragement from the Bush Administration, and in particular Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, that it will do much to level the playing field in Asia.

"Were the trade deficit cut in half, manufacturing would recoup at least 2 million of the 3.9 million jobs lost since 2000. U.S. GDP growth would be in the range of 3.5 to 4.0 percent a year instead of 2.5 to 3 percent expected as the economy resumes growth the latter half of 2009. Real wages would rise briskly."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Editor On the Block

There's been a staffing change here at Inventors Digest. Kelly Blinson is our new Radar editor. If you have a product you'd like her to review and consider publicizing or an upcoming event you want to announce, give her a shout. Her e-mail is Kelly.Blinson@InventorsDigest.com.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hungover and happy

Little hungover this morning after last night's celebration (Matt Spangard's in mourning, so if he's grumpy today, give him a break). I'll make this quick. Got an e-mail from a guy who asked me how to go about defending patent infringement. Have you, or do you know anyone, who has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit? Let me know. ... I'm gonna go get some coffee and a greasy breakfast. Damn, I'm feelin' good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Attorney as Investor

We've got a story in the January issue from a patent attorney who offers clients the option of paying up front or, in certain cases, the opportunity to pay nothing initially in exchange for his firm owning a stake in the invention.

In tight economic times, I thought the article was timely as well as timeless. If you have a really solid idea, it might be worth pursuing an equity agreement with your patent attorney. That's money saved for product development and/or marketing, and demonstrates commitment on the part of the attorney.

Damn, I love this magazine.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Georgia on my mind, redux

Here’s an update on the inventor networking and educational opportunities that
Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and The Creative Coast Alliance have cooking.

The workshops – which last from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. – are free and include lunch.

Inventors Digest’s own Jim DeBetta is hosting one about the fundamentals of marketing. Other topics include financing and prototyping. If anyone attends, I’d like to know what you thought.

Interested participants may register online for workshops at www.tagonline.org, under “Calendar of Events.” For additional information, contact Jamie Wolf at jwolf@thecreativecoast.org or Orjan Isacson or Orjan.Isacson@innovate.gatech.edu.

You Need a Team

A reporter from a business journal phoned me the other day and asked if it were true that only 1 in 8,000 inventors who get patents actually make money on their products. The answer is yes, but with a caveat. That's for independent inventors who try to do everything solo. To increase your chances for success, you need to enlist key partners. These can include designers, marketers, attorneys, business/investor types. Jack Lander writes a lot about this in our magazine.