Category Archives: Inventions

America’s revival begins in its cities

Edward L. Glaeser

America’s revival begins in its cities

By Edward L. Glaeser December 30, 2010
Reprinted with permission

DURING ECONOMIC downturns, we begin to fear that we are entering a permanent period of decline. But we can avoid that depressing prospect if we recognize that a revival will not come from federal spending or another building boom. Reinvention requires a new wave of innovation and entrepreneurship, which can emerge from our dense metropolitan areas and their skilled residents. America must stop treating its cities as ugly stepchildren, and should instead cherish them as the engines that power our economy.

America’s 12 largest metropolitan areas collectively produced 37 percent of the country’s output in 2008, the last year with available data. Per capita productivity was particularly high in large, skilled areas such as Boston, where output per person was 39 percent higher than the nation’s metropolitan average. New York and San Francisco enjoy similar per capita productivity advantages. Boston also seems to be moving past the current recession, with an unemployment rate well below the national average of 9.8 percent.

Since 1948, the national unemployment rate has exceeded 9 percent only one other time: the grave 1982 recession. During the 1980s, we looked at Japan and saw an economy that seemed to be surpassing our own. Today, we watch with unease as China surges.

Yet American decline is not inevitable. During the 25 years after 1982, our real gross domestic product increased by 3.3 percent per year, which was also the rate of growth during the quarter century before 1982. Our post-1982 growth involved massive economic restructuring. Manufacturing employment fell by 39 percent from its peak of 19.4 million jobs in 1979. The 1979-2009 manufacturing decline was more than offset by the 126 percent increase in employment in “professional and business services” and the 184 percent increase in education and health jobs.

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Interview with Inventor and Patent Attorney Andrew Spriegel about the Portion PadL

Interview with Inventor and Patent Attorney Andrew Spriegel about the Portion PadL

By Tara1 | Published: December 1, 2010

portion padl pizza cutter

My thanks to Inventor and Patent Attorney Andrew Spriegel for agreeing to an interview with me about his business partner Greg Getzinger’s invention the Portion PadL and how together they brought the product to market. The Portion PadL was invented to enable pizza businesses to quickly and easily slice pizzas into equal pieces. The Portion PadL is available for both commercial and home use.

Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you are based and your career background?

Andrew Spriegen Inventor and Patent Attorney

Andrew: I worked most of my career as a Manager or a Lead Senior Electro-Mechanical Engineer for Fortune 100 companies, GE, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Invacare and others.  My experience involves a wide range of products, satellites, locomotives, off-highway vehicles, medical durable goods, surgical devices and consumer goods.  I have many US and international patents and had made a lot of money for other companies.  At 48 years old I decided to go to law school to become a patent attorney and commercialize my own products and other’s products.  I now own a patent law firm (www.Smart2Patent.com) and own several businesses commercializing products.

Tara: Is the Portion PadL the first invention you have bought to market?

Andrew: No, I had brought numerous products to market prior to the Portion PadL.

Tara: I understand that the original idea for the Portion PadL was invented by Greg Getzinger with whom you are now in business. Please could you tell me a little bit about Greg, how he came up with his invention and how the two of you connected and set up your business?

Greg Getzinger

Andrew: Prior to owning a pizza business (Pizza BOGO, www.pizzabogo.com) ), Greg was a Vice President for a large Insurance Company.  He developed the equal slice pizza cutting board (Portion PadL, www.PortionPadL.com) for his business to develop school and institutional accounts.  He heard complaints about unequal size slices of pizzas and worked on developing a solution for the problem.  Greg and I met at a networking event that his group was having at the building where my law firm is located.  It was a chili cook-off and Greg brought in a “chili pizza” on one of his prototype boards.  I saw the board and I asked him if it was patented and said that if it wasn’t it would be a great product to patent and commercialize.  We formed NuVo Grand, LLC as equal members.

Tara: Did you start with working drawings of the product or did you make a prototype?

Andrew: Greg built numerous prototypes (20+) of the equal slice pizza cutting board.  He was trying to perfect the cutting board for his business.  He did not have drawings, rather his father-in-law was making various designs based on Greg’s dimensions.  Greg tried numerous materials, sizes, grooves…

Tara: How did you go about protecting the invention?

Andrew: I have written two utility patents on the cutting board and I am working on a third utility patent.  We are building up a lot of intellectual property around the product.

Click here to see Video

Tara; Were there any mistakes, issues or problems you both experienced in the process of commercialization of the idea?

Andrew: Actually it has gone very smoothly.  Greg and I seem to compliment each other’s skill sets.  Greg is great at sales and marketing and I knew how to have the product manufactured, the manufacturers, the processes and protecting intellectual property.  I spent my career commercializing complex products very quickly and therefore I help inventors avoid the mistakes made by the typical inventors. Greg did encounter a big snow storm delivering materials to the manufacturer…a two hour trip turning into a twelve hour ordeal.

Tara: Did you consider licensing the invention or did you always plan to manufacture it yourself?

Andrew: The only products that I pursue are patentable, simple, revolutionary and either we can manufacture or have someone manufacture, preferably one at a time.  I prefer to take an order and then manufacture the product, that way you get to positive cash flow quickly.  Inventors often run out of money because they buy large quantities of product to get a good price on the product and they wind up with a garage full of product they can’t sell.

In my experience, licensing a product is a difficult thing to do.  Either you don’t get a deal, someone attempts to steal or design around the product or you get offered pennies on the dollar.

If you can manufacture and sell the product you start to “take away market share” and companies sit up and notice.  At that point if you sell or license the product you get a much better deal.

Tara: How will you go about marketing and publicizing your product? Do you intend to sell the product direct to businesses and public yourself or are you planning to wholesale it?

Andrew: Greg started marketing the product to large companies right away.  He has a real talent for sales.  Greg knows that it takes a lot of “no responses” to get a single yes.  Now our customers are Domino’s, Schwan’s, Speedway, Piccadilly Circus Pizza…and many Mom and Pop pizza shops.

I built the website www.PortionPadL.com and work with bloggers and social networking to build the brand.  If you Google “Portion PadL” we are the main listing for about the first six pages.

Tara: How long has it taken from Greg’s initial idea to where you both are now with the business?

Andrew: We have been working together less than a year.

Tara: What advice would you give to an aspiring inventor who thinks they have a good idea?

Andrew: We all love our own ideas, you have to determine if there is a market for the product.

Here are some of my key decision factors:

  • 1. Is the product Protectable? (Patent, Trademark, Copyright…)
    • a. If you have a great product and it is not protected people will copy it fairly quickly.
    • b. If you can’t protect the product I wouldn’t bother commercializing it
      • i. However, there are products that sell very well such as the Snuggies, the Amish Fireplace…but those products have been successful because of large ad campaigns
    • c.    The Portion PadL is protected by numerous Utility Patents Pending so it’s met that key decision factor
  • 2.    Is the product Revolutionary?
    • a. If it meets “a need” it is likely a commodity
      • i. People can listen to music on a large number of MP3 players
    • b.    If it meets “a want” it is likely Revolutionary
      • i. The iPod is the product that people want to listen to music on and therefore they have the largest market share.
    • c. The Portion PadL has numerous advantages over the existing products that assist people in cutting and therefore it is a “want” product.
  • 3. Can be manufactured “one at a time” until you have volume orders?
    • a. In the initial stages of commercializing the product we bought a full sheet of Richlite and when a customer ordered one we had the manufacturer make one and ship it.  That way we got to positive cash flow quickly.

Tara: What advice would you give to an inventor who has already developed and manufactured their product and are now looking at ways to publicize and market it?

Andrew: If they don’t have the expertise get help.  Many inventors have a great idea or product but they get in their own way because they have no idea how to sell it.  The product fails not because of the product but because the inventor cannot let go of controlling everything.

Tara: You have started creating a series of books for inventors chronicling the journey of inventors from invention idea to commercialization, perhaps you could tell me a little more about what you hope to achieve with the books?

Andrew: The series is called the Spilled Coffee Chronicles of Invention. I have several writers documenting inventors progress in commercializing products.  I have a high success rate in commercializing products and the books will help inventors avoid the many inventors pitfalls.  The books describe the successes and the failures along the way.  The volumes are just starting to be published but the first volume for the Portion PadL is on Kindle and Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/2wspqrh and http://tinyurl.com/36ypa6a, respectively.  The books are also written to dispel many of the myths around inventing.  It is not a get rich quick thing, it takes hard work and persistence.  The books generate income for the inventors, the writers, myself and for reinvesting in publishing the series.

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Invention Success Rates | Odds of Inventor Success

Invention Success Rates | Odds of Inventor Success
  
What percent of inventor ideas are successful? What percent of patents make money? What percent of inventions are commercialized?
“I’m a risk taker. I get up in the morning knowing that I’m either going to have a spectacular win or loss that is going to be exciting. I prefer theformer but either is more appealing than the warm death of mediocrity.  ”Dean Kamen, Inventor of the Segway human transporter 50% – 1 out of 2.  Earthquake odds. Chances of a major earthquake striking the San Francisco Bay area within the next 30 years [1989 + 30 years = 2019].  “Last week’s shattering earthquake may one day be remembered as a dress rehearsal for the Big One — a cosmic temblor that, according to seismologists, has a 50 percent chance of striking the Bay Area within the next 30 years.”  (Newsweek, October 30, 1989, p. 28) He who doesn’t take risks, doesn’t drink champagne.”
An old Russian proverb

“I could be living in the French Riviera.  But I like hanging out with my friends.”
T. Dosho Shifferaw, Inventor of the Bowflex

“In truth, odds are stacked astronomically against inventors, and no marketing outfit can change them.”
Richard Maulsby
Director of the Office of Public Affairs,
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office


90% of an invention’s success is marketing it and getting it out.  “[T]he idea is about 10 percent of this exercise; 90 percent of it is the marketing of it, getting it together, getting it out.” (Richard C. Levy, inventor of Furby quoted in Liane Hansen, All Things Considered (NPR), “Profile: Independent toy inventor Richard C. Levy,” June 18, 2002)


99.9% fail – 1 out of 5000 inventions have successful product launches.  “[E]xperts estimate that 1 out of 5,000 inventions have gone on to successful product launches.”  Invention success rate.  Percent of inventions that fail. (Williams-Harold, Bevolyn, “You’ve got it made! (developing invention ideas),” Black Enterprise, June 1, 1999)

99.9% fail.  Only 2 products are launched out of every 3,000 ideas.  “Out of 3,000 ideas, for instance, only about two products are ever actually launched — and only one of those succeeds, says Greg Stevens, president of WinOvations, a new product research and consulting firm in Midland, Mich.” What percent of inventions become commercially successful? (Jeannie Mandelker, Reporter Associate: Anne Ashby Gilbert, Marketing, Your Company, pp. 54+, October 1, 1997)

99.8% fail.  Only 3,000 patents out of 1.5 million patents are commercially viable. “In truth, odds are stacked astronomically against inventors, and no marketing outfit can change them. ‘There are around 1.5 million patents in effect and in force in this country, and of those, maybe 3,000 are commercially viable,’ [Richard Maulsby, director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office], says. ‘It’s a very small percentage of patents that actually turn into products that make money for people. On top of all that, to get ripped off for tens of thousands of dollars adds insult to injury.”  What percent of patents make money?  How many patents become products?  Percent of patents commercialized.  Percent of patents that get approved.  (Richard Maulsby, director of public affairs for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, quoted in Karen E. Klein, Smart Answers, “Avoiding the Inventor’s Lament,” Business Week, November 10, 2005)  


Why is there such a high inventor failure rateWhy do most inventors fail to get their product to market?

 


99% fail. 1 out of 100 ideas make it.  The reality is that “for every successful business, you have probably 100 ideas or more.  The one out of a 100 that makes it to market, their success rate isn’t that great either.”  What is the probability of becoming a successful inventor?  (Robert D. MacDonald, Entrepreneur Consultant, Lake Oswego, Oregon, “Oregon Ranks No. 8 In Nation In Inventors,” The Columbian, January 9, 1998)

98% fail.  Only 2% earn significant dollars.  What percentage of patents succeed?  “According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, approximately 2 percent of patents earn significant dollars for their inventors.”  Patent success rates.  Patent odds of success. What percentage of inventors make it? (Susan Glairon, “Boulder, Colo., Inventors Find Joy in Journey from Idea to Product,” Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, April 17, 2000)

97% to 98% fail – “[O]nly 2 to 3 percent of registered patents ever make it to the market.”  Percentage of patented inventions that make it in the marketplace  Chances of invention making money.   (Stuart West, intellectual property lawyer based in Walnut Creek, California quoted in Marton Dunai, “More inventors try to market products,” Oakland Tribune, September 5, 2006)

95% to 97% fail – Only 3 to 5 out of 100 inventions succeed.  “It is universally accepted that out of every 100 inventions, only three to five will succeed commercially.”  Percentage of inventions that succeed.  Patent commercialization success rate.  (Yeang Soo Ching, “Reaping rewards from inventions,” New Straits Times, December 24, 2000) 

95% fail.  Less than 5% of patents are commercialized.  “And less than 5 percent of the patents received by small inventors culminate in a commercial product.”  Percent of patents commercialized.  Odds of success for independent inventors.  Statistics of odds of independent inventor patents being commercialized.  (Sougata Mukherjee, South Florida Business Journal, June 8, 1998)

1 out of every 20 or 25 ideas becomes successful.  “Only one of every 20 or 25 ideas ever becomes a successful product — and of every ten or 15 new products, only one becomes a hit.”  (Thomas Kuczmarski, Kuczmarski & Associates, Chicago consultant specializing in innovation,  Fortune, 12-2-91 pp. 56)

95% fail – Only 5% earn money.  “It’s been reported, without confirmation, that worldwide, only 5% [five percent] of all patented inventions ever earn any money for their inventors.” (Business Daily, Philippines, November 27, 1998)

95% fail – Only 5% of independent inventor patents are produced in the marketplace.  “Independent inventors …are responsible for 15 percent of all U.S. patents. Fewer than 5 percent of those patents are ever produced in the marketplace.”  Percentage of independent inventor inventions that make it in the marketplace.  (Tim Lemke, “Invention + market savvy = successful product”, The Washington Times, April 16, 2001)

95% of all new products fail.  “But the market can’t absorb that many new ideas, and an estimated 95% of all new products fail. In part, this reflects the way many new products come about.  Individual inventors often work outside corporate structures, have limited product-development funds and are unfamiliar with industry standards and practices.” Success rates for independent inventors. (Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)

6% probability of commercial success for independent inventors.  “The probability of commercial success for inventions developed by independent inventors was determined to be exceptionally low: 6.5% ([+ or -] 0.7%).” Probability of a successful invention.  How many inventors succeed?  (Thomas Astebro, “Basic statistics on the success rate and profits for independent inventors”, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, December 22, 1998)


90% fail.  Only 10% of those who make prototypes end-up making money.  Brian Miller, PRe Plastics’ director of operations, saiabout 10 percent of inventors who come to him leave with a mold, and about 10 percent of those people make money.  ‘They have to survive the cost of the mold. Very few inventors who come through the door get the mold done, let alone find success.’”  Success rate of inventions and prototypes.  (Brian Miller of PRe Plastics quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)

80% fail.  1 out of 5 succeed.  “Typically, small manufacturers experience about five failures for every one success.” (By Courtney Price, “Outsourcing helps inventor bring product to market, Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 2, 1997)

76% fail.  Percent of cases lost by patentees in doctrine of equivalents cases.  “By far the most dramatic finding of our study is that patentees rarely win doctrine of equivalents cases. Overall, patentees won only 24% of the doctrine of equivalents cases decided in the last eight years. Compared to the overall patentee win rates on other issues — 54% on validity alone in cases at various stages of litigation, (51) and 58% overall in cases that make it to trial (52) — and the baseline assumption in the economics literature that plaintiffs should win about 50% of the time, (53) this is a remarkably small win rate for patentees.” (John R. Allison and Mark A. Lemley, “The (unnoticed) demise of the doctrine of equivalents,” Stanford Law Review, February 1, 2007)  Peruse more books by John R. Allison and Mark A. Lemley.

75.6% fail.  Patentees lose 75.6% of the time against accused infringers.  “An empirical study of the results of patent litigation at the appellate level during the period 2002-2004. Dispositive case results, i.e., those not involving a remand on the merits, are compiled. Patent owners won 24.43% of the cases and accused infringers the remainder. The cases were further analyzed to determine the characteristics of winning and losing parties, including nationality, financial strength, location of principal offices, and several other factors.”   (Paul M. Janicke, University of Houston Law Center and Lilan Ren, University of Houston, “Who Wins Patent Infringement Cases?,” American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal, Vol. 34, p. 1, 2006)  Find other publications by patent attorney and law professor Paul M. Janicke.

70% fail – 7 out of 10 new products fail.  “Nearly seven out of 10 new products fail either because no market really existed in the first place.”  (Gary Miller, president and founder of Aragon Consulting Group, St. Louis, Missouri, “’New Coke’ And Other Disasters Can Be Avoided”, Viewpoint, September 22, 1997)

59% fail – 41%. percent of U.S. patent applications were approved in 2006. “Patents themselves don’t come easily. In 2006, the patent office received 443,652 patent applications, but only 183,187 were issued that year.”  183,187/443,652 = 41%.  (Joyce Smith, Business Columnist, “Seeing your invention through: Entrepreneur week helps highlight some success stories of those who dream big,” Kansas City Star, February 27, 2007)

50% to 89% fail – Between 11% and 50% of entrepreneurs succeed in starting a firm.  “Wholly reliable statistics are not available on the likelihood that inventions developed by individuals succeed in reaching the marketplace. Data are limited to those that reveal how many nascent entrepreneurs actually succeed in launching a firm. Reynolds and White (1992) first reported that somewhere between 11% and 50% of all nascent entrepreneurs succeed in starting a new firm. In a later study, White and Reynolds (1994) estimate that between 30% and 50% of all entrepreneurs succeed. Katz (1989), on the other hand, reports that 15% of all nascent entrepreneurs in the U.S. enter self-employment.” (Thomas Astebro, “Basic statistics on the success rate and profits for independent inventors”, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, December 22, 1998)

50% to 80% fail – Failure rate is 50% to 80%.  “Conservative estimates put new product failure rates between 50 to 80 percent, according to the United States Small Business Administration, which cites another discouraging statistic. For every 100 ideas offered by innovators, only five will ever be produced, and only one has even a chance to make money.”  Patent success ratio. Invention failure rate.  (Barbara Bradley, Scripps Howard News Service, San Jose Mercury News, Sunday, February 18, 1990, p. 1PC)

 

99% fail. Only 1 out of 100 patented products make money.  “Even an inventor whose product is unusual enough to receive a patent faces daunting odds. Only an estimated one out of every 100 patented products makes money.” Percentage of patents that make money. Percentage of inventions that make it to market.  (Mimi Whitefield, Herald Business Writer, Miami Herald, February 5, 1996, p. 22BM)

46% fail – Only 54% of patent applications are approved.  “Only 54 percent of patent applications receive approval, according to the patent office.”  Odds of patent approval.  (Julia Feldmeier – Washington Post Staff Writer,, “Any Bright Ideas?; How Local Inventors Try to Capitalize on That ‘Aha!’ Moment,” The Washington Post, March 4, 2007)

40% fail – 60% of patent applications are approved.  About 60 percent of applications are approved. Patent approval odds.  (U.S. Patent Office spokeswoman Brigid Quinn quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)

25% win rate.  Patent owner long-term contested win rate.  “The long-term contested win rate for patent owners varies around 25 percent.” (LegalMetric press release, “LegalMetric Data Of KSR Effect On Patent Owner Win Rates,” eWorldwire, September 12, 2007)

20% – 1 in 5 error rate.  Loan error odds. Estimated odds that an American’s consumer credit reports have loan errors.  “Odds are 1 in 5 that your credit report has errors damaging enought to keep you from getting a loan.  And, says Consumers Union, odds are even greater — almost 50-50 — that your report has an error of some kind.  Lenders rely on credit reports, which show consumers’ records at repaying debts.  Three private companies — TRW, Equifax and Trans Union — compile most of the USA’s consumer credit data.”  (USA Today, April 30, 1991, p. 1A)

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Turning Your Ideas and Products into Cash

Turning Your Ideas and Products into Cash

a
Sometimes you just have to get out and sell it!
a
When Dave Hoffman came to me for a consultation he needed advice on his invention.  Dave had designed and built a wireless dial measurement indicator.  Like most engineers (including myself) he was critical of his prototype, he wanted it to have better accuracy.  I suggested that he add an attractive label to the digital display and that he have JD Sanders market the product.  That’s when I found out he had ten working prototypes and I suggested he sell them all.
a
JD Sanders has great marketing skills and in addition he worked at Cromwell Tools  for two decades and had a ton of contacts in that arena.  Dave had his invention written up in Machine Design and it was off to the races.
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Parker Hannifin, Babcock & Wilcox, JJB Engineering, Ansco CNC Specialists, Cornwell Tools and Standard Engineering Group, all of the Akron, Ohio, area, SchoellerBleckmann Energy Services, Grayledge Pump & Industrial LLC, Logan Machine Company and GM Lordstown, Ohio, are currently using the wireless test indicator.

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Over 2000 Products! All Made in USA!

Portion PadL and Portion PaL Rocker Knife Made in America

http://www.madeinusaforever.com

The Portion PadL is designed for every home where pizza is served!

The generous 14 inch surface fits nearly every size of pizza whether frozen or homemade. The unique circle and groove technology, found only on the Portion PadL, accommodates four or eight slices and makes it simple to cut every pizza slice equally.

Whether you are practicing portion and nutrition control or just trying to keep things under control by making sure everyone gets the same-sized slice, this all-in-one pizza peel, cutting board, portion control tool and serving utensil is for you!

Use the front of the Portion PadL to cut and serve your pizza. Center your pizza using the circles and cut equal slices using the grooves to guide your cutting wheel or rocking blade. The beveled edge allows you to slide your pizza to and from the oven. The back of the Portion PadL is the ideal surface for everything from kneading and resting your homemade dough to chopping your favorite toppings and cheese.

This quality pizza peel is made of a commercially NSF food safe approved composition wood and plastic composition. It’s easy to clean and dishwasher safe. The Portion PadL is 100% made and manufactured in the USA. Selected specifically for strength, durability and appearance, the composition material will last a lifetime with proper care. The composition material IS NOT a baking stone or baking device.

DO NOT place the Portion PadL in the oven for baking purposes.

Whether you’re cutting a fresh homemade or a hot frozen pizza, the Portion PadL Rocker will rock your pizzas! No more messy cutting wheel to drag the cheese and toppings off your pizza. No longer will you need to scrub and clean that crusty pizza cheese and pizza sauce off the cutting wheel. The rocker is dishwasher safe. The Rocker is a great companion for the Portion PadL. The beveled edge of The Rocker perfectly fits the cutting grooves of the Portion PadL. The lightweight, sharp and balanced rocker knife will cut your pizzas with ease.

Made in USA.

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Self Publishing is a Great Way to Promote your Business and Services

Self Publishing is a Great Way to Promote your Business and Services
by Andrew R. Spriegel
Patent Attorney
Spriegel & Associates, LLC
Patent and Trademark Attorneys
http://www.smart2Patent.com

Self publishing a book has become easier and more profitable and a great way to brand yourself.

The Spilled Coffee Chronicles is a series of volumes that document real world examples of an actual invention or business. This series (the Equal Slice Cutting Board) is made up of numerous volumes.  The Equal Slice Cutting Board (www.PortionPadL.com) series is the factual story and the actual experience of an inventor Greg Getzinger and me as we worked together to move an invention from an idea to a successful, commercialized product.  The Product is exceeding all sales expectations with Domino’s Pizza, Schwan’s Foods, Piccadilly Circus Pizza, Speedway and many others.

The Spilled Coffee Chronicles of Invention™ is a series of volumes about any invention, created and owned by Andrew R. Spriegel.  Each series of volumes documents the actual ideas, creation, production and marketing of a single invention.  The SCCI documents both the
successes and failures along the path.  Inventing the Pizza Cutting Board (the Portion PadL™) examines one invention with multiple volumes that concentrate on one or more aspects of the process. Volume One, The Inventors, takes a look at what it takes to be
an inventor and helps you to commercialize your idea or product if you move forward.

Books available in both electronic and paperback versions:

Paperback book on Amazon $14.99

 

Electronic book on Kindle $4.95

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Ask the Experts

Andrew R. Spriegel interviewed by www.asktheexperts.org.uk 2010

The Invention of Trying
by Paul David Lucas

What drives people to become inventors? Perhaps Edison thought it would be an illuminating experience; maybe Watt thought it would be a good way of letting off steam. However, for Andrew Spriegel, it’s about making dreams become a reality.

Admittedly Mr Spriegel may not yet rank up there with the likes of Henry Ford, Wilbur Wright and George Stephenson, but his achievements should not be overlooked. He has already racked up dozens of patents to his name including products for the Invacare Corporation that dominates a $120 million a year market and has no competitor that has yet challenged the product for features and functions; and his first patent for a Laparoscopic Surgery device.

Having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, Mr Spriegel went on to work in lead electromechanical design engineering or management positions for companies such as GE Astro Space, GE Transportation Systems, GE-Lubrizol, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, Invacare, GOJO Industries, Kensey Nash Corporation and IBM, while also working on designs and projects involving NASA, International and US Air Force satellites, the Space Station, Locomotives, Off-highway vehicles, surgical devices and durable medical equipment.  It’s an impressive resume, but despite his personal achievements, Mr. Spriegel is not only focused on his own career – he’s also keen to help others reach the top.

At 48, he entered law school to study patent law and has since set up his own firm – Spriegel and Associates – to assist inventors and companies with the complicated world of patent law.“We take on inventors only if we believe they can commercialize their product,” he said.

“If we think the inventor won’t be successful, for example if their product is too complicated, they don’t have the necessary skills/drive, they believe it is a ‘get rich quick’ thing then we turn them away.  We want our firm to be known as a patent law firm with a high success rate in helping people commercialize products.”

Among the latest products Spriegel is helping to become a reality is the Portion PadL, which allows users to cut equal slices of pizza very quickly. It may seem straightforward enough but it solves a number of problems for food companies and fundraisers alike – because equal slices of pizza mean increased sales, reduced food waste and improved presentation.

“It actually does what it is supposed to do and that is to allow the user to cut equal slices of pizza very quickly,” commented Spriegel. “Greg Getzinger (the inventor) did a lot of research and experimentation to perfect the product. In addition, Greg is a pizza shop owner, very driven, a lot of fun and great at marketing the product.”Another of his hot products is the Nee-Z-eeZ a sleep aid device designed to ease the pain in your back, legs, hips and knees. Inventor Frank Fleischer, who initially developed the product for himself, earns high praise from Spriegel for the shrewdness of his invention and for capitalizing on a gap in the market.

“Frank Fleischer, the principal inventor, is 80 years old and can run circles around a lot of people much younger,” he said. “It amazed me how many people sleep with a pillow between their legs to align their hips. Frank owned a very large shoe business and they built specialized shoes. He knew there was a large population of people that needed the product.”

Of course it’s not just individuals to which Spriegel’s inventions hold appeal – he is also keen to push products with mass market potential for businesses, such as the MyTee golf business card which helps companies get their name out into the public domain by die stamping five foldable golf tees to a business card.

“We are selling the card both in the US and internationally,” said Spriegel. “The people/companies that have purchased it and distribute it love it.”

So with so many inventions under his belt, what advice would Spriegel offer to up and coming innovators?

“Commercialize products that are unique and very simple,” he said. “I tell them not to work on a product that they can’t get manufactured in small quantities and sell themselves – this can give you positive cash flow very quickly. Never start with a product that needs tooling or that you can’t fund yourself.”

He’s also keen to drive home the importance of trademarks and patents and that inventors should seek legal advice as early as possible.

“Many business people don’t realize that a business name/trademark can be the most valuable intellectual property that they develop,” he said. “They often use a common name that will have little or no value. For example, Coke is calculated to be worth approximately $67 billion, Intel $32.3 billion, IBM $56.2 billion. Companies spend a lot of money advertising their name every day, but if your name is Joe’s Pizza it is difficult to build that name into a brand, as opposed to Dominos, for example.”

He continued: “I would never commercialize a product unless I could patent it. I think an inventor should approach a patent attorney as soon as possible in the process. I also tell inventors that in commercializing a product that the patent/trademark fees in the end will only be a small part of the expenses.

“People say that inventors can write their own patents and it reminds me of the commercial where the guy is talking to his surgeon on the phone and the surgeon is telling the guy where to cut into himself to do the operation.”

The ability to try lies in all of us. The invention of trying is the technology behind the next phase of breakthrough and the next generation of inventors.

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