How Valuable are Patents

I have just heard that our first patent has been filed (not sure what that means yet). I had started the process for several countries in my previous company, and it never completed prior to me selling the company.

This one was first submitted when I started in the beginning of 2006 which means that it took most of 4 years to get to where it is now (my lawyer told me I can talk about it now). The process is amazing to me. There is most of a week worth of work to get the idea put together to communicate to the patent attorney. He then goes off for several months and writes the draft. Then you have to read the 20 to 30 pages of legalese (and try to stay awake and attentive). A couple rounds of revisions, then if goes to the black hole for several years. Eventually you hear back that everything is thrown out – and that they totally missed the point of the differences that you and the lawyer had worked out. A few more responses into the muddy hole (3 month response instead of years) and you finally get somewhere.

So once the patent is granted, then what? We have strategies of our own to execute, but I would love to hear from anyone who has gone through the patent process. I am in new territory and would love some advice!

Lessons Marketing

Keeping Customers Happy

Do you ever wonder if you do too much for some customers? I sometimes do. We are a company that responds quickly to most every customer issue and request. It does give us a reputation of a great company to work with. Unfortunately, most of the time, this additional work does not create additional revenue and it also pushes back our revenue generating projects.

Thankfully, I have been running software companies where the customer (and employee) is the focus for almost 20 years. I know that going the extra distance with customers and employees not only keeps them happier, but also builds tremendous loyalty. There are many times when the things that we are doing for customers are actually problems that our development team has mistakenly created. If we were unresponsive, they would leave our product and go to another. There are other times when the requests enhance our product for the future. Even though the timing is not exactly as we had planned, the new feature usually helps close sales with new customers.

All in all, it appears that keeping people happy by being responsive to them has long term benefits that are not obvious in the short term. So if you have the option to help someone out, go ahead and take the time to do it.

Challenges Lessons

Get R Done

Most of us have probably heard the cable guy with his infamous “get r done” phrase. There are lots of times when I have lots of things to do, but would rather put in a movie and vedge out. Although there are times to do that, there are also times to make time to get projects that are on our minds done.

I didn’t do a post last week because I was busy working on getting my accounting completed and put together for the year for tax preparation. In the middle of that, I had to rebuild my desktop (windows blue screen is so fun). The week before that, I rebuilt a server that was causing problems. All in all, I am starting the week off with a much better attitude since those nagging projects are done.

If anyone is like me, having too many projects actually slows me down on all my projects. If you find yourself in that position, make the time to knock off one or two of the big ones before you sit down to the television set.