Accelerator Report from Daniel Pitts Winegarden, JD
We continue with a recap of the 2017 Innovation Roadshow, held on October 10 at the Sukup Manufacturing Co. Tech Center.
Camille Urban, Attorney, BrownWinick Law Firm leads the firms Intellectual Property practice. Too many IP attorneys bury entrepreneurial clients in a legal seminar of chapter and verse of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Act. Clients don’t need to know how to practice law. They need to know what to do before calling the IP attorney and when to call. Camille delivered a business-focused to-do (and what not-to-do) list for innovators to keep IP defense both effective and affordable.
Done right, you want a fence strong enough to keep proprietary intellectual property inside the company and tall enough to keep the monsters out. The problem is day-one, the value of any particular innovation is unproven. Here’s where a process or habit are essential. You want to preserve the right to build a bigger fence as the value of an idea grows. Urban used the analogy of building a picket fence, with a simple step-by-step process to build the fence one picket at a time, with a checklist from the viewpoint of entrepreneurial innovator, not the attorney. Brilliant and practical.
BrownWinick uniquely emphasizes empowering the client to do the routine work so the client can afford to bring in the heavy guns for the high-return opportunities that really require IP counsel expertise. To this they add business savvy that keeps in mind the business objective, not just the legal objective.
Emily Schmitt, General Counsel, Sukup Manufacturing Co. and Christopher Proskey, Attorney, BrownWinick Law Firm, did a team presentation on how a rural advanced manufacturing client and local counsel can work effectively with specialized IP counsel. These are the practical examples of implementing Urban’s picket fence. Intellectual Property can’t be ignored. Innovation without the defense of intellectual property is just charity to your competitors.
Schmitt and Proskey gave both tips on process for early involvement of IP counsel and specific examples of successful interactions and tactics that produced successful business outcomes. One practical advantage in their coordination is Proskey has North Iowa family farm connections so he’s in North Iowa frequently; Sukup doesn’t always have to go to Des Moines. And more importantly, BrownWinick works to transfer routine processes to Sukup (and other clients) to keep IP fence-building costs in line with value delivered. Schmitt and Proskey both emphasized the value of the under-utilized design patent to set yourself apart from competitors.
Stay tuned for Part III of the Innovation Roadshow recap! Next up, we hear from Matt Schroeder of Stellar Industries and Steve Weiss of NurtriQuest.