Protecting your company's idea
At the core of any startup company is the idea. The idea is the true value of a company, according to LIM Innovations CEO and co-founder Andrew Pedtke, and he says protecting that idea should be a main priority.
LIM Innovations' product meets the goals of mobility and simplicity for patients in need of custom prosthetics. Its innovative product design is easily adjustable, making fittings that would usually take a month ready in about a day.
The company's patent path shows that it is a long process that needs continual progress.
"Our patent was filed in November 2012, but the provisional patent was filed back in November 2011," said Pedtke. "Our first attempt at a prototype wasn't until January 2013, so it is an ongoing process. You have to file additional claims, new provisions and stay in touch with the patent office. You can't just file and let it sit."
The patent is the key value to any innovation company, so protection should be a high priority, according to Pedtke. Instead of relying on an outside law firm alone, Pedtke's company invested in hiring an agent in order to have someone within the company focused on patent issues.
"Finding a good patent firm that really works well with your venture and your team is also important," he said. "Our venture will do a lot of the work, but we also have an in-house patent agent. He is more of a consultant, but he really is part of the team and has a specific interest in the company."
Patents are expensive and a lot of work, according to Pedtke, so keeping it up to date while going through the process is important so that entrepreneurs don't waste their time and money.
Other insights from Pedtke
Focus on the value: Pedtke said the product design at Lim Innovations has basically been the same, but through the entrepreneurial process he has learned to pinpoint the product's true value to patients. "I've learned how to categorize the benefits to patients as well as providers, and really refined the value points," said Pedtke.
Benefit of different co-founder styles: "It was a real organic process," said Pedtke. "I think we made a conscious understanding about marketing ideas. We first pooled ideas, but then we decided to go with his, and I fell into focusing on the grand vision of the business and how individuals fit into it."
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