Seinfeld on Start-ups: It’s a Festivus Miracle!!

Seinfeld on Start-ups: It’s a Festivus Miracle!!

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born … a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must have been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.

You may all need to stop for a moment and recall some of your favorite Festivus memories.  For me, it has to be the Airing of Grievances.  Taking out frustrations at the expense of friends and family around the ol Festivus Pole is an amazing stress reliever this time of year.  How about for some of you?  I now know there are 2 people that read this blog, you know who you are. 

Festivus, like all good ideas, was a product of “Necessity” – which apparently is a close relative to “Invention”.  They too often go hand in hand and the resulting products cover the gamut from Snuggies to Pocket Hoses.  That’s where today’s Seinfeld lesson comes in.

We have a lot of clients that come to us with inventions – some have an actual product, some are a sketch on a bar napkin, some are a sketch of a new and improved bar napkin.  Most every time, the first question out of the gate is “how do I patent this?”  Typically, I respond with “who is going to buy this and why?”  Inventors are very quick to protect their idea and unfortunately, very slow to actually think about how to sell it.

Soap Box Moment Alert – You can quickly spend thousands of dollars without even trying on patent searches, provisional applications, and full-blown patent filing.  And at the end of the day, you have some protection, but what are you really protecting?  And at the same time, you have just disclosed your idea or process to the world, for all to reverse engineer or mimic in some way.  I’m not trying to poo-poo the patent process as I am nowhere near an expert on it, but I think most garage-style entrepreneurs should really put their intital time and effort into feasibility before they work on patentability.

I’ve now reached paragraph 5, which means I better wrap it up and tie Festivus back to the invention process and patenting before I put both of you to sleep.  Your invention is no doubt spectacular and life changing – spend some time thinking about who will buy it and why.  Talk to those folks and get some idea of their willingness to commit.  Maybe even sell a few, no doubt you’ll have some refinements to make as you move from prototype to larger scale production.  Seek advice; don’t be so protective of your idea that you don’t get input from others.  Fear of copying by others is one of the great stumbling blocks to a truly successful product launch.  At the end of it all, save some energy for the Feats of Strength – Costanza fights dirty.

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