Why read this book?
1. Engineers are meant to be inventors
2. Engineers can get affordable patents
3. Engineers can do business models
4. Engineers can do business plans
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Most engineers/students stop themselves from inventing under the mistaken understanding that they will need business skills and lots of cash beyond their means as investment to make their inventions successful businesses. The book seeks to convince such engineers and students that if they have a sound product based on a good idea that is protected by patents, wealthy investors with business skills will seek them out.
The message of the book to innovative engineers and scientists is, "If you take a good idea and reduce it to a viable product that is desired by paying customers, you have laid a strong foundation for a new and likely successful business." The book tells the engineer or the scientist, who is a novice to business and investment matters, to diligently apply his/her technical education to develop a commercially viable product from an idea.
The need for patents to protect inventions should not stop inventive engineers. While the book encourages engineers to get the assistance of patent attorneys if they can afford them, the book teaches the estimated 99.9% of engineering students, who cannot afford the services of patent attorneys, to invent frequently, search for patents, apply for patents and get affordable patent protection without the assistance of patent attorneys.
The book demystifies crucial business issues to embolden engineers to attempt their first business plan. They learn that the dreaded business plan has many inputs, most are not set in stone. The book guides the first-time business-plan developer to make dozens of unfamiliar decisions relating to customers, sales, production, distribution, costs and price. While the book teaches them how to reduce the uncertainties surrounding these unfamiliar inputs to the business plan, the reader gains confidence to keep moving ahead when he/she understands that even individuals with business experience must make several estimates in a business plan that are very crude or approximate, or may prove to be wrong. With this realization, engineers are emboldened to attempt their first business plan. To minimize errors, they are also encouraged to seek mentors while preparing a business plan for the commercially viable product they have developed.
A business plan gives engineers an objective basis for the valuation of their business based on their product and estimated market; such a valuation will promote meaningful conversation between the inventor and potential investors and/or licensors. There exists a continuous process of learning and correction while an engineer progresses from the idea stage to the business-plan stage. With the experience of preparing the first business plan, an engineer can bake good business sense into the product during the NEXT product development.
The author is Professor Emeritus, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Auburn University. At Auburn University he was the Director of the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management from 2005 to 2014. For fifteen years, he taught how to transform new ideas to creative products, patenting and business planning. He is an inventor with US patents, angel investor, and mentors inventors and new startups including those by his students.
Two articles for inventors applying for patents without the services of attorneys.
As a pro se inventor-applicant, without the services of a patent attorney, he was granted multiple U.S. patents since 2009. Based on his success in getting patents from the U.S. Patents Office without an attorney, Swamidass has written following DOWNLOADABLE articles to help the individual pro se inventor-applicant:
Links to two helpful articles for inventors applying for patents without the services of patent attorneys:
1. Swamidass, Paul. Reforming the USPTO to comply with MPEP 707.07j to give a fair shake to the pro se inventor applicants, John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law, Vol. 9 (2010).
2. Swamidass, Paul. Does the patent office snub investors who file without an attorney? InventorsDigest.com, April 2010.
(c) Paul Swamidass