I just received news that, for the second year in a row, Small Business Monthly has awarded me the title of the “Best Patent Attorney in St. Louis”. It is a real personal honor for a couple of reasons. First, it comes straight from the hundreds and hundreds of votes from the clients, colleagues, and community organizations I serve each day. It doesn’t come from a PR department at big firm or just a few people on one magazine editorial staff. We started CreatiVenture Law when the great recession hit, and so many people were forced out on their own as entrepreneurs. I took clients whom my former large firm, where I was a partner, would not take because they were not big enough fish. I believed in them and they believed in me. I got to be involved with some real success stories, thanks to those little fish. And it turns out the bigger fish I work with love that approach too. I hope it is a reflection of who we ARE here at not just the work we do at CVL.
Second, it means we must be doing something right both with our people and our product. I suppose we were entrepreneurs when it wasn’t the trending buzz word it is today. I really like people. I really like geeking out on their ideas. Just ask my wife, who has to tell me to “put the laptop down Dennis” and take a break, when I am especially engrossed in a particular technology or patent I am writing. I care what happens to their business long after I finish the work. I can’t help myself. It is more to me than just filing documents by the hour and sending out a bill. It takes patience. It takes listening (and yes a little of that geek thing). It also takes making sure our patents, trademarks, agreements and opinions are as airtight as we can possible make them. I have seen many clients come in the office with things not done well (at high costs) who need me to help them fix it. There are no guarantees in IP law, but I like to go to bed knowing I have done the best possible job. It makes the long hours and extra effort worth it, regardless of a title. But hey, this “Best Patent Attorney” think is pretty great. So thanks all you for believing in me!
By Dennis Donahue.
2016 is off to a great start professionally and personally for me. St. Louis Small Business Monthly is honoring me in its January edition as one of “The Best Patent Attorneys In St. Louis”. Professionally, that means we here at CreatiVenture Law are top notch in the services we provide, right along side other great practitioners in both small and large big-name firms. But it means even more personally, because it affirms the mission I had when I left a partnership in big firm to start CreatiVenture Law. You see, I am a technology geek with an entrepreneurial spirit. I was a working engineer for a decade. Then I was the guy who sought out those creative work-arounds and unrecognized inventions from the regular people making airplanes at a major aerospace company. As an attorney and partner at a big law firm, the geek in me wanted to do more than just rack up billable hours writing patents and other documents. It was hard to not be able to service the small business owner, inventor, or would-be entrepreneur who might not be able to immediately be that “big account.” So I took the leap, as many of my current clients have done, to start my own business and focus on the entrepreneurs and the people who are becoming the backbone of our economy. And what a great group they are. I have some great relationships with my clients, because I really do enjoy the things they bring to me. I have an eye for things they may not have thought was worth protecting. I love go to their entrepreneurial events. I geek out not only on their ideas but on the plans we come up with for smartly turning those things into profit and a better life. It also such a great feeling to keep away the bad guys who would seek to infringe upon those ideas. It means a lot to me when the professionals who work with me and my business know me, fight for me, and actually care. And what a great feeling it is to know I can do that for others! Mission accomplished.
You can pickup Small Business Monthly at one of the St. Louis Small Business Monthly pickup newstand locations
or go to their website at www.sbmon.com
By Dennis Donahue:
“When one door closes, another door opens”. That’s an old saying that rings true now more than ever in St. Louis, as I meet and counsel with people who have started up new businesses in recent years. Whether they were forced to by our nation’s economic downturn or were just moved at the thought of doing something out of the box, these people are creating their own “open doors”. I am actually one of them, and I’ll never regret taking the leap. It is really inspiring, daunting, and adventurous all at the same time. But you have to have a game plan and see what others are doing successfully first. According to the 2015 Kauffman Index, new business startups are up nationwide, and we want to see St. Louis rise with that trend as well. So are you one of those entrepreneurs in the making, and do you want to see who is out there and how it’s done? If the answer is yes, please join me on for the Startup Connection on November 18th at Washington University. It is the largest showcase of startups in St. Louis, and we are a proud sponsor. There will be great people to talk to and resources to find… even some cool cash giveaways! My partner and I will be at our CreatiVenture Law exhibit and would love to talk to about how we can help you get things going and keep things growing. Hope to see you there!
Click this link to get details and sign up: http://www.startupconnection.org/
By Linda Lewis
The Myth: What doesn’t work isn’t important.
The Reality: To be patentable, an invention must be new, useful and non-obvious. When your patent attorney is preparing your patent application, providing her with a good written record of what doesn’t work can be very helpful. Why? Because what didn’t work can be added to your application to show non-obviousness. During patent prosecution, your attorney may have to provide arguments to overcome a rejection from the examiner that your invention is not patentable because it is obvious. If you had 50 failures before your first success, you have strong evidence of non-obviousness, and that evidence can be used to overcome the obviousness rejection.
So keep good, detailed records of your work. Have the records dated, signed by the inventor and witnessed by someone who read and understood the work. Keeping a record of your failures and successes may make all the difference in overcoming the examiner’s rejections and getting your patent claims allowed.
By Linda Lewis:
The Myth: A great idea is an invention.
The Reality: A great idea is…..an idea. An invention is the tool, technique, composition, method or device that makes that idea a reality. My six year old son told me, “Mom, I have an invention!” “Great!” I replied, “What is it?” “A car that gets 100 miles per gallon.” I told him, “That’s an idea, not an invention. When you build that car, I’ll patent it for you.”
A great idea is a great start. Now get to work. First do some searching to see if your idea is new. We recommend Google Scholar, because it has a very helpful format for searching patents. It’s important to know that you not only must have a new idea, it must be non-obvious. Several patents can be combined to make an idea obvious. Once you have determined that your idea is new and non-obvious, you need to work on a prototype. It doesn’t have to be the best embodiment, it just needs to demonstrate the concept. I’ve been impressed with what can be demonstrated with cardboard and duct tape. The new 3-D printers are making prototyping easier than ever. Then, when you’ve made that idea a reality, contact your patent attorney.
By: Linda Lewis
The Myth: Patents aren’t valuable. You can just make small changes and get around them.
The Reality: Many patents are extremely valuable. Monsanto was given a one billion dollar award ($1,000,000,000) in its law suit for patent infringement against DuPont/Pioneer. Clearly not every patent is going to be that valuable. The value is determined by how much is already in the public domain and consequently can’t be claimed in your patent, how well the application was drafted by the attorney, and how great the invention is.
Choosing a skilled patent attorney is critical in getting a valuable patent. Clearly, not every intellectual property lawyer is the same. St. Louis’ thriving entrepreneurial community is a great place to network and learn from successful business people the names of the best intellectual property attorney for your invention.
By Dennis Donahue
Jello is not something I eat on a regular basis. But when you turn it into a Jello shot, well that is another story! And the pursuit of making a great Jello shot is the reason one of the simplest inventions to cross my desk as a patent attorney is also one of my favorites. The Jellinator is brainchild of my client Trish Piazza, who found herself frustrated by the mess involved in filling party-perfect jello shots for a community fund raiser. So she and her husband Matt put a small valve at the tip of a tube to control the flow. No one had done it quite that way before. A problem was solved, and a business was born! The Jellinator has been successfully selling nationwide online and is now available in stores. It has also just been nominated for Martha Stewart’s “American Made” contest. (Check out this recent article about it http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/gutcheck/2014/09/the_jellinator.php) The Piazzas are a terrific example of regular people who had more than just a great idea. They had courage to get that patent and work like crazy to get it out there for people (ah, party goers) like you and me to enjoy. So great to be a part of that! Congrats! www.Jellinator.com
by Dennis Donahue: Recently, I went to a large home and bath retailer during the college back to school season. My simple quest to buy a cell phone cord turned into a journey through “cool product wonderland”, with isles of new takes on the old dorm necessities stacked alongside gadgets I had never seen before. Somehow, someone took some pretty simple ideas and got them to just the right place at just the right time for just the right people. As a patent and licensing attorney, I know that it actually it takes many “someones” and a lot of good decision making to turn a new product or business idea into that money maker we dream of. So beyond the patent and the prototype, then what? I will be answering some of those questions in a special presentation for entrepreneurs on Oct. 1st. If you want some good advice for protecting and prospering your new adventure, sign up for this one!
By: Linda Lewis
One of the great things about living in Missouri is learning about its history and its figures of history. One of my Missouri heroes is George Washington Carver. He was a scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown. He is believed to have been born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Missouri in January 1864.
“Since new developments are the products of a creative mind, we must therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.”
As an agricultural chemist, Carver discovered over three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Among the listed items that he suggested to southern farmers to help them economically were his recipes and improvements for: adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes, ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain.
Carver collaborated with Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes and in 1897 Carver went to serve as the school’s Director of Agriculture. Carver remained on the faculty until his death in 1943.
In 2005, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, opened a George Washington Carver garden in his honor, which includes a life-size statue of him.
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because, someday in life you will have been all of these.” George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver National Monument is a unit of the National Park Service located about two miles west of Diamond, Missouri; the national monument was founded on July 14, 1943, by Franklin Delano Roosevelt who dedicated $30,000 US to the monument. It was the first national monument dedicated to an African-American and first to a non-President.
“When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way you’ll command the attention of the world.” George Washington Carver
By Linda Lewis
It’s described as a “54 hour frenzy” of new entrepreneurs and mentors working to evolve the top business models chosen by popular majority vote. Startup Weekend began in 2011 and has since become a global grassroots movement in 100 countries all over the world. Dennis will be volunteering as a mentor for the newbies to give constructive criticism and encouragement on their new ventures. The fun begins Friday evening at T-Rex in downtown St. Louis.
To find our more about Startup Week St. Louis check out the links below or our social media outlets.
Over the past two years, CreatiVenture Law has donated over 100 hours of pro-bono legal services to artistic members and groups through the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (www.vlaa.org), KDHX 88.1 community video-graphers and photographers (http://www.kdhx.org/), and Webster University’s professional photography classes (www.webster.edu). Additionally, CreatiVenture Law is proud to support the Strolling Strings orchestra group at Ladue Horton Watkins High School (www.laduestrollingstrings.com) as they perform in Atlanta, Georgia and is also supporting the Chaminade Drama Program’s Year with Dickens (Oliver, A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations http://www.chaminade-stl.org/studentlife/fine_arts/index.aspx).
written by Linda Lewis
In the spring and early summer, this is a common sight: a turtle (really a tortoise) in the middle of the road. I’ve dubbed my family the “Turtle Rescue Squad” because we stop and move it off the road. My rescued turtles also get a good scolding for being in the road. I’ve found this common event to be a good teaching tool when I teach middle school students:
“The turtle is having a hard time at dirt level, making his way around grass, rocks, sticks and trees. He moves his head to the side and spies it! A clearing to the left! No grass, rocks, sticks or trees… and he heads straight for it. Nice and clear, easy travel. Perfect, right?”
We know what that clearing really is — a road! What’s the problem with the turtle’s decision? The middle school students know, “A truck is going to run over that turtle!” That’s when I start to teach.
“The turtle can’t see around the bend. He doesn’t know what is coming, or he surely wouldn’t head out onto the road. He doesn’t really want to get run over. If we’re not going to be like the turtle in the road, we need to find valuable advice. The clear easy path may turn out to be the deadly path, while the hard challenging path may be the safest and best route to take. Valuable advice can make the difference between reaching your goal and ending in disaster.”
At CreatiVenture® Law, we provide our clients with valuable advice, helping the clients to make intelligent, informed decisions that benefit them and help them achieve their goals. We know that valuable advice can make the difference between reaching goals and ending in disaster.
CreatiVenture® Law — dedicated to entrepreneurs.
CreatiVenture® Law Second (2nd) Anniversary
On June 1st, Linda Lewis and I celebrated the second (2nd) anniversary of CreatiVenture® Law, and I am so extremely thankful for all of the growth that we have seen in so many of our clients. Their success has translated into more legal work for us, and our hard work for our clients has resulted in more referrals to even more clients.
Thank you –
By Dennis Donahue
As we remembered those who have given their “last full measure” to so many rightful causes of freedom of which we are the beneficiaries, I would like you to consider taking a positive action on the security of conducting business in the US. I am extremely thankful for the freedoms that our forebears instituted in our country and that our current service members continue to protect.
There is currently an unjust field of battle in the federal court system when abusive patent infringement actions are brought against entrepreneurial businesses by non-practicing patent holders. I hope that you read Professor Crouch’s summary of the SHIELD Act below, and if you agree with my points, I hope that you contact your congressional representatives to tell them that they should support the SHIELD Act and join with your industry organizations to mobilize others in this cause.
Entrepreneurial Spirit is Alive & Well
As you know, CreatiVenture® Law is an intellectual property law firm dedicated to entrepreneurs. As a group, entrepreneurs work hard to advance their businesses, products, and systems, and the leaders of entrepreneurial ventures want to rightfully protect their technological improvements and intellectual property assets.
Patent Infringement Abuse Draining Lively Companies
In comparison, there are many non-practicing patent holders (derogatorily known as “patent trolls”) that are NOT entrepreneurial and instead feed off of very lively and entrepreneurial companies. I believe that the SHIELD Act is a way to curb some of the abuses that have occurred recently with non-practicing patent holders that wrongfully use the patent laws and an unbalanced legal system in the US to extort money from healthy companies. I am sharing with you a good summary of the SHIELD Act that Professor Crouch has shared through his Patently-O blog (see below & Shield Act – www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr845).
Curbing Abuse While Protecting True Entrepreneurial Spirit
If you believe that the SHIELD Act could be a positive step for society to even court battles between operating businesses and non-practicing patent holders during patent disputes in the federal courts, I encourage you to contact your congressional representatives and work with your industry organizations to support the passage of the SHIELD Act in a way that protects true entrepreneurs who are protecting their IP assets and curbs abuses by non-practicing entities.
US Congressional Representatives – www.house.gov/representatives/find/
US Senators –
US Congress – http://beta.congress.gov/
The day before Thanksgiving I was hit by a driver who ran a red light. The impact, on the driver’s side, re-directed my car toward the curb. Unfortunately, directly in my path was a telephone pole. As many of you who have been in an accident know, time slowed as the adrenaline kicked in. I cut the wheels to the left, away from the pole to no avail, until I hit the curb. Then my car lurched 6 inches to the left and I “threaded the needle”, as you can see from the photo.
You might think that small “eye of the needle” space between those two telephone poles is not very valuable real estate, but to me it was enormously valuable, as it saved me from serious injury.
Many inventors fail to recognize the value of their inventions. Because of the intelligence, talent or creativity, they think that just anyone could have thought of or created their invention. This is often true, especially when the invention is an improvement that may be particularly narrow or focused. Yet many of the inventions that we use in our everyday lives are the result of narrow inventions: cup holders that hold any size of cup, flashlights that are ribbed and don’t roll away when dropped, medications that have sustained release and fewer dosages each day, paint that lasts 5 years rather than 3 years.
Consulting with a patent attorney can provide an inventor with the guidance to “thread the needle”, to find that valuable piece of intellectual property that is patentable. By searching and analyzing the existing art, drafting a thorough specification, and crafting valuable claims, the patent attorney is able to provide the inventor with a valuable patent. At CreatiVenture Law, we are dedicated to entrepreneurs, helping them to protect their intellectual property.
By Linda Lewis
Glancing through the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper, I found that March was Women’s History Month. I was intrigued by an article featuring Clara Barton. What caught my eye was that she was one of the first women to work for the US government and that she was a clerk for the US patent office.
We have probably all heard that Albert Einstein once worked for a patent office, but I never heard that mentioned about Clara Barton. Both of these people were characterized by creative excellence. It makes sense to me that creative people are going to be drawn to inventors and inventions.
Clara recognized a pressing human need and did something practical to address it. In the month before his assassination, President Abraham Lincoln wrote: “To the Friends of Missing Persons: Miss Clara Barton has kindly offered to search for the missing prisoners of war. Please address her . . . giving her the name, regiment, and company of any missing prisoner.”
It’s easy to think that there are not many Clara Bartons these days, but that simply is not true. At CreatiVenture Law, we have the opportunity to daily meet entrepreneurs who recognize a need and do something about it. These are exciting days of great creativity and enthusiasm, and it is joy to be a part of it.
By Linda Lewis.
One of the advantages of using the public library is that you see books you probably would never see elsewhere. One Saturday afternoon, I spotted displayed at the Eureka public library, The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. It had an intriguing subtitle: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future. Pictured on the cover was a 1950’s type bike with a sack of money on the back. How could I possibly pass that one up?
I started reading the book that evening and was impressed with the format. Instead of it being another dreary business how-to book, it was a collection of fascinating success stories with an over-arching theme: this is something you can do. Quoting Guillebeau:
…this book isn’t about founding a big Internet startup, and it isn’t about opening a traditional business by putting on a suit and begging for money at the bank. Instead, it’s the account of people who found a way to live their dreams and make a good living from something they cared deeply about. What if their success could be replicated? What if there was a master plan you could follow, learning from those who have made it happen?
This book resonated with me, because at CreatiVenture Law, we are dedicated to entrepreneurs. Many of our clients are people who are trying “to live their dreams and make a good living.” Perhaps this book would be good resource for them.
I got on line and checked the website www.100startup.com. There was a tab for The Tour. To my awe and wonder, I found out that Guillebeau was coming to Columbia, MO on January 29! That was the next week. Who would have thought the only spot in the mid-west that was on his tour was Columbia. (Eat your heart out Chicago!) I reserved my spot and planned my trip. Of course, it was the afternoon of thunderstorms and tornado alerts along IH 70, but that did not deter me. I had 20 copies of The $100 Startup locked in my trunk, ready for author signature, and I was a very motivated woman.
It was a great night. People from as far away as Iowa showed up. Many had businesses and many wanted to start their first business. Chris was a low-key, yet fascinating speaker. He was positive and encouraging. When I sheepishly asked him to sign 20 books, he was more than willing. I think that actually he was glad to have sold 20 more copies of his book.
Since then, I have been giving clients and friends copies of the autographed book. I think I’ll save one for myself. In a time of high unemployment and financial challenges, this book is a tool that can help the entrepreneur. Check it out and see what you think. And if you need help with your intellectual property, be sure to contact CreatiVenture Law.
By Linda Lewis.
I worked for Monsanto for eight years as a research chemist when I transferred to the Patent Department as a trainee. I was halfway through night law school. Upon graduation from law school in Massachusetts, I transferred to Monsanto World Headquarters in St. Louis to work in the Patent Dept. In 1986, as a newly minted Patent Attorney (translation: I had passed the Missouri State Bar and the U.S. Patent Bar), I worked with researchers at Monsanto, preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications.
One of the inventors I worked with was Dan Getman. He was working on developing a resin for solid phase peptide synthesis, in the hot new field, biochemistry. It’s hard to imagine, but when I graduated from the University of Texas with a chemistry degree, there was no biochemistry degree, and only a few biochemistry electives. I was able to get Monsanto Co., Dan and his colleagues four patents on solid phase peptide synthesis.*
Many years have passed since working with Dan. I went from full time attorney to part time attorney, while raising my three children. Monsanto had a head count reduction, and I went from in-house attorney to private practice, to law firm co-founder and co-owner of CreatiVenture Law. While raising my three children, I exposed them to science in the form of the Queeny Science Fair, Jr. Science Engineering and Humanities Symposium competitions, Jr. Academy of Science, and US FIRST Robotics. My son is now an Aerospace Engineer with graduate credentials; my first daughter is a Medicinal Chemistry graduate student; and my second daughter is an Art Education major with a keen knack for selling her custom jewelry on-line.
My first daughter, Christy, is at the University of Kansas, Lawrence working on her PhD. This summer she gave my husband and me a tour of the lab where she was working. She was explaining her procedure for synthesizing peptides. It sounded eerily familiar. That was because it was the procedure, or a variation of the procedure, I had helped patent twenty-six years before.
We’ve all heard the song, The Circle of Life, and this realization was that moment for me. And this, in one short story, is the beauty of the US patent system. This system, embedded in our Constitution, rewards the efforts of inventors by giving them a twenty year monopoly on their invention. In return the inventor has to publish his invention, thereby advancing technology when other scientists read and benefit from it. If that system were not in place, Monsanto wouldn’t have hired Dan, and Dan would probably have not invented the solid state peptide synthesis that I helped patent. Fast forward twenty-six years, a graduate student in Kansas would not be learning peptide synthesis using the no-longer patented (it has expired) but published method. It’s a great system that works. It’s a system that I love being a part of.
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I just received news that, for the second year in a row, Small Business Monthly has awarded me the title of the “Best Patent Attorney ...Read more