So, promoting technical ideas. In my experience, there are two essential routes that an engineer can take to promote some idea. Rarely hallway conversation, "Hey, I've got this great idea for such and such," and you'll tell the idea to a colleague and he was like, "Hey, that's a good idea," and then nothing ever happens with it. So, the routes are creating inventions, creating patents, that's one way. The other way, I had to come up with an explanation for this, so I said new product ideas and inventions aren't necessarily a product but might be just a better way to do something, to accomplish something. So, I'll talk a little bit about how inventions work within the companies that I've worked for. I've filed first patent that I applied for in 1992, I think. That was a mid-size company. Then, when I worked for larger companies like LSI logic, and Seagate, and now I work at Migrand the process has been exactly the same. So, these inventions start with what's called an Invention Disclosure Form. There are two primary aspects at play with inventions for filing for patents. Management compares the number of patent filings and awards of competitors against a number of filings of your own company, and it becomes a numbers game from the investor community standpoint. If your company is creating a lot of patents, then your company, doesn't necessarily mean it's true, but can be, so he have it in quotes, be perceived as more valuable and can work to drive the stock price up. Some inventions really can be monetized and turned into valuable products that customers want, but not all inventions are worthy of that. They say next here. So, before I go any further, I love this story. So, the United States Patent Office granted a patent on a lossless data compression algorithms. So, back when I was working at Seagate, I was tasked to go off and figure out a way to build a lossless data compression algorithm. It turned out I was successful, I worked on it for three or four months, and we filed two patents on it. During my research, I was reading books on data compression and trying to figure out different ways of how these compression algorithms worked. I went and I looked at how winzip work. Microsoft publishes a document, you can go look at it. I also went to the gzip site which is common compression utility on Linux systems. In reading information on the gzip site, they cited a patent where the applicant claimed that their data compression algorithm can take any data, you feed it in, and it's guaranteed to reduce the size of the data by at least one bit on the output. Now, first glance like, "Wow, that's pretty cool. Is it really possible?" They go on and explain. Well, now you take that data and you bring it back around and you feed it through the compression algorithm again, and it gets reduced by one bit. You do it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and as huge dataset goes down to one bit, and then you feed that one bit in and nothing comes out. The US Patent Office issued a patent for that idea. But not all inventions are real. I consider these ridiculous or sometimes called frivolous patents or inconsequential patents, icon-silly patents, or ridiculous patents. I get a patent awarded for a debug bit that firmware could set, that made an AHV slave look busy forever. I had no intention of filing that patent, but a patent attorney came out, they were harvesting ideas, they got a hold of that one, and it was a couple of years after I go from LSI logic, and you get a patent award that companies send you these things in the mail to get up these expensive plaques for your patent award. "You've been granted a patent and get this nice $250 plaque for it." The patent was foreign. "Are you kidding me?" They actually took that to the patent office, and this one is almost as ridiculous as that lossless data compression algorithm. There's no value in this at all, yet the US Patent Office issued a patent, and it just made me shake my head. I really like the lossless one that always stuck with me as just ridiculous. IDF's, these Invention Disclosure Forms are internally reviewed by a patent board periodically. They might meet once a month, they might meet more once a quarter, or bi-annually, something like that, but they meet periodically. The purpose is to look at all of the invention disclosures and identify where the IDS to proceed to filing a patent. Once the Invention Disclosure Form is given the green light to proceed, typically, an outside attorney is assigned to work with the inventors to craft a patent application, and that has been true at every company that I've ever filed a patent application for. The company has internal legal counsel available but they are not the ones that interface directly with the patent office. Companies hire specialized outside patent attorneys, outside counsel or sometimes referred to, to interface directly with patent office. At least that's how it works in the US, I'm not sure what how it works in China, or India, or European Union, that's how it works here. So, it's a very common working relationship that this outside patent attorney becomes involved, and draws up the document, and you go back, you pass a document, back and forth actual patent application, back and forth, back and forth between yourself or your team of inventors and the outside counsel until you're ready inhibit, whittled down, and formatted properly with all the appropriate pictures, and claims, and so forth. Then, they take care of interfacing with the patent office. After the patent is applied for, a patent examiner will look at it and say, "I need some more information here or something." So, it comes back and then you have to update it a little more, and then resubmit it, and this outside patent attorney, generally, it takes care of all of that liaising with the patent office. So, like I said, handles all that outside stuff. Rewards employees, very probably greatly. I don't know what rich companies like Google and Amazon do, the companies I've worked for, these are typical numbers. So, the rewards to the employee are generally in the range of about $1,000 US when the patent is filed with the patent office, and then you get another $1,000 when the patent is granted. So, it's very common to have this two-stage payment scheme. Some of those other companies might pay lot quite a bit more than that and they may vary and how much the patent board perceives the value of the patent also. You may argue, well they could go off and make millions, and millions, and millions maybe billions of dollars on my invention, and I only get $2,000 out of that. That's not fair. Now, when you sign the paperwork to go to work for your company, there's text in that document you sign that says, "everything I invent belongs to my employer." So, they, your company you're working for, they own the patent, however you get bragging rights. You can put it on your resume so you'll have overtime, when you get patents issued you can start putting the patent number, and the name of it, and who was on it, and the date. I think I have 10 or 11 on mine right now. We're working on more, we just had a bi-weekly meeting with our internal council, and we have a big list of ideas that we want to file patents on. We're working getting relationships setup with the outside counsel, and I imagine I'll be working on a patent application here within the next 30 days. So, the basic structure of a patent, I don't know if you've ever looked at them before. Patents starts with an overview, general description of the problem being solved and the solution. It may include why this invention is better than prior art. Prior art is a legal term for other patent awards or other techniques that are well understood. You'll see it's not uncommon to see language that says one skilled in the art of such and such would recognize that this is a new and novel approach, and it's different somehow from all of the other existing prior art. It just means the prior designs a prior way of doing something, doubling something, designing something. It'll contain a detailed description with drawings and the more drawings the better. I've read some patents, it was very short on drawings. The more drawings that you can have, the better it can communicate what the intent of the invention is. This is the meat of it, there's a set of what the attorneys will refer to as independent claims and these are the valuable novel notions that stand all on their own, they don't depend on anything else. So, you'll have a set of independent claims and potentially you could have a set of dependent claims and then those dependent claims are leveraged from the independent claims. So, I was trying to come up with an example for you. So, I'll give you an example of an independent claim and dependent claim. So, imagine a mousetrap that's a vacuum cleaner. When a mouse enters the "mousetrap" that there's an optical switch in there and it turns on the, it turns on the vacuum and sucks the mouse into this container where it can't get away. So, no one has ever done that before, you can have that as your independent claim. No one's ever used a vacuum system to build a better mouse trap. Then a dependent claim, would rest on the independent claim, and a dependent claim might say, well now that we've got the mouse inside this bio-contained containment where the mouse can't get out then it minimizes the spread of disease and decay, for instance, in order for that might be a dependent. But the dependent claim hinges on the first, the vacuum effect to get the mouse inside the containment unit. That's what I came up with. So, I hopefully that gives you an idea what an independent claim is and what a dependent claim is. In general the more claims the better when you work with your outside attorney. They will repeatedly ask you, are there more claims? Are there more claims? We want more, and more, and more claims on this patent application. So you do, you wrack your brain and try and come up with many, as many claim items as you can. So word of warning, what follows on this slide, okay. I'm not an attorney. I'm not giving you legal advice. What I'm about to say does not represent the position of the University or any business that I am currently or previously been affiliated with. These are my own independent opinions as an engineer who has worked in the business for 35 years. One of you here is just dying to know what it is I'm going to say. So, engineers are not attorneys, okay? That's why you have your inside counsel and your outside counsel. We are not qualified to make a determination regarding whether a new invention that we're dreaming up inside our company, infringes on an existing patent. You might think, well, what's the harm in going on out there Google Patents and wading through the trove of patents that Google's organized so nicely for us. I'll get to that in a second. Only the attorney assigned to your patent application, and generally it's the outside counsel, can make the call regarding infringement on prior art. They're the only ones that are qualified to do it, not us engineers. Under no circumstances, do not go out and read other people's patents unless explicitly required by your job function and your company's legal department. If you do so and years down the line this patent is contested by another company with their patent and you end up in court and it is discovered through the legal discovery process that you went and read some other patents, even though you didn't intend to infringe and in fact you went to read these patents with the intention to not infringe, you may be found guilty for intentional or unintentional patent infringement. Again, I don't know where the law is right now, but damages as I understand it can be trippled if you show intentional patent infringement. So, it can be extremely costly to your company. So, put blinders on, don't go look at other patents. Just work with your patent attorney or inside counsel, your outside counsel and focus on writing your patent application with the patent office, and the patent examiner do their jobs and you'll be good. There's this tremendous desire to go look at other patents and it's sometimes it's interesting just to go out to patent site or Google Patents and just type in keywords and search for stuff. I know what that's like. When I was at Seagate, I was given a portfolio of patents to review and I was to give a technical assessment of the worthiness of this or the value of these patents, but that was part of a business deal. [inaudible] company was funding a startup. So, I had internal authorization to review these patents, that's fine because that was part of the business process, but you don't go off and do it on your own. I did some independent consulting for a period here within the last couple of years and I reviewed a portfolio of 500 patents that some company was trying to sell and I have expertise in that area, and this little consulting legal firm in Chicago contacted me and I took the job. I spent four or five days reading through 500 patents and I had to rate them. It has a lot of value, might have some value, or it doesn't have any value at all. They only wanted me to spend 10 minutes. They said, don't spend any more than 10 minutes reading any patents, and some of these really complex patents, serious digital signal processing stuff. Stuff that if I really wanted to get into the value of it or not, I would have to go off and do additional research, but they didn't want me to do that. But again, this was part of the deal, I was okay to read these patents because it was part of this review process. I was hired as an outside independent contractor to do that work. Any questions about that? Does this surprise you at all? I don't know what the rules are? How it works in India, Asia, or Taiwan, or European Union, or elsewhere. So, a word caution to you. There's a link there at the bottom in IndustryWeek, Patent Infringement: It's More Common than You Think, if you're curious about that you can go read that when you have some time.