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Design Patents & Amazon – A Match Made in Heaven
Rich Goldstein is the Principal Patent Attorney at Goldstein Patent Law, a boutique law firm dedicated to patent prosecution. In this role, Rich guides small businesses, startups, e-commerce marketers, and investors through the time-consuming and complicated process of obtaining patent protection. His goal is to connect, protect, and educate his clients while understanding their problems and needs.
In addition to his work as an attorney, Rich is also the host of the popular Innovations and Breakthroughs podcast and the author of the best-selling book, The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Rich Goldstein discusses his role as a patent attorney at Goldstein Patent Law
- The importance of timing when filing for a patent
- Rich talks about patent protection on Amazon
- What is the difference between a design patent and a utility patent?
- How Rich and his team find and innovate expired patents
- Rich explains the difference between a trademark and a patent
- Where to learn more about Rich and his patent protection expertise
In this episode…
Do you want to protect your products from being copied or knocked off by other businesses? If so, it may be time to invest in a patent or a trademark.
Obtaining a patent or trademark is complex and time-consuming. However, it’s an essential step in mitigating risk for your business and creating maximum value for your future exit. Protecting your brand at all costs prevents your competitors from taking a share of your market—and, consequently, devaluing your business. Fortunately, Rich Goldstein is on the Quiet Light Podcast to share his patent wisdom with the world!
On this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Rich Goldstein of Goldstein Patent Law to discuss the ins and outs of patent protection and risk mitigation. Listen in as Rich shares how and when to obtain a patent, the various types of patents to use for your products, and the real difference between a patent and a trademark. Patent protection can make or break your business—so stay tuned to learn more!
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Rich Goldstein
- Rich Goldstein on LinkedIn
- Goldstein Patent Law
- Goldstein Patent Law on Facebook
- Office Hours
- Join the Live Office Hours Zoom
- Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast with Rich Goldstein
- The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent by Rich Goldstein
- Joe Valley on LinkedIn
- Quiet Light Brokerage
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Quiet Light Brokerage, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.
There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light Brokerage wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. By providing trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations, your Quiet Light advisor isn’t your every-day broker—they are your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.
If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light Brokerage is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.
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Hi, folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.
Joe Valley 0:24
Hey folks, Joe here from theQuiet Light Podcast, today’s guest is Rich Goldstein. I’ve known Rich for a while now he’s a patent attorney, speaker, host of the Innovations and Breakthroughs podcast. He’s also author of the best selling book The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining A Patent. He’s a product innovation specialist counsels entrepreneurs and individuals and venters startups regarding the best steps to take for patent protection. And when patent protection is available, kind of an important step there. I’ve seen Rich at almost every ecommerce event I’ve been to in the last two and a half years he seems to know everyone. He helps everyone. And I’m thrilled to have him on the podcast as a guest today. Today’s episode is brought to you by you guessed it Quiet Light Brokerage, where every member of the team, every eminent m&a advisor here has built, bought or sold their own online business. There are no junior brokers here, folks, I personally sold close to 100 million, and I’m just one of 11 advisors on the team. We currently have a slew of new listings coming up. So be sure to visit the buy page quietlight.com. And if you’re a seller and want to know the value of your business, which is likely your most valuable asset, don’t go to the watercooler and talk to your friends about what they sold their business for. Figure it out for real. Talk to one of the advisors on the team. We’re here to help it’s free. We don’t care if you’re ready to sell now or not planning to sell in the next 24 months. We’re definitely here to help. And we will we’ve learned from experience that planning does help you get a higher value. So take that step. Rich my friend. Welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. How are you?
Rich Goldstein 1:59
Hey Joe. I’m doing well and thanks for that intro That was great.
Joe Valley 2:02
That is a beautiful background. There you is that a virtual brick office background? Or we have virtual brick background? Yeah, I can’t do it. The lighting it makes me look like I get a halo on and all that stuff.
Rich Goldstein 2:14
Well, I think that’s part of the secret is I have good lighting. And you know I have lights in front of me and the most critical is the hair light the light above that makes you stand out from the background. So even though I don’t have much hair, I still have a hair light.
Joe Valley 2:30
hair light I’m gonna have to look that one up. Yeah.
Rich Goldstein 2:34
I’m three if you look up three point lighting. That’s like the the light that’s behind you typically.
Joe Valley 2:40
Well it makes you it’s making you look for folks that are listening instead of watching YouTube and look at it Rich looks very nice with his three point lighting and his brick office. Thank you.
Rich Goldstein 2:49
And I have to say though, I really kind of struggle to find a background that I like because because so many of the backgrounds, the virtual backgrounds, just kind of silly.
Joe Valley 3:00
No, you’re not really in that house. So you’re not really on that beach, or you’re not really in outer space. I was just talking to a friend of ours in common. And he’s actually on vacation so I can’t make fun of him too much but he’s not at the beach yet. The background was a beach and the waves it was actually a video background so the waves kept repeating so I did notice after FYI on his john Yeah, you’re not actually at the beach because no no no, I’m in the Airbnb. So right. Pretty funny
Rich Goldstein 3:30
that you log thing they used to have a Christmas time with the fireplace. It is. And actually if you watch really closely, one of the little ashes on the log suddenly jumps and that’s where you know, the end of the loop. That’s it right there. If you if you want to be a nerd about it, I guess but I guess.
Joe Valley 3:49
So you have nerds. Right. You You’re in Europe, you’re a patent attorney. That’s not nerds. Because it’s bigger. Totally complete. No, you man. Look, I’ve seen
Rich Goldstein 4:00
you as nerdy of them. patent attorney. I don’t
Joe Valley 4:03
think I’ve seen another patent attorney at any of the events. I you know, I see you at every e commerce event mastermind group, whatever it is, I think the last one we were at together was billion dollar summit with Kevin King. I see you everywhere. You’re helping ecommerce entrepreneurs, you know get Is it is it. patents, trademarks? What did tell us what a little bit more detail about what you do?
Rich Goldstein 4:30
Yeah, I mean, it is patents and trademarks, I’m going to help them to protect what’s protectable. I mean, a lot of times when you’re, you’re out in business or you’re launching a new product, you want to prevent people from just copying what you’re doing and jumping on top of the bandwagon that you create. And so the extent possible, it’s great to create IP protection, intellectual property protection, to to protect the thing that differentiates you from others so that the thing that consumers So looking for and your products is also something which you can keep exclusive. And that’s what I seek to do.
Joe Valley 5:06
You just said new product when you’re launching a new product. Talk to us about the timing around when somebody can file for a patent because I think there’s a certain period of time and whatnot. If it’s out to market, it’s still okay. Can you touch on that? Yeah, absolutely.
Rich Goldstein 5:21
And I think that’s critical. And, and and I’m glad you asked, because I think that’s one of the most important things for entrepreneurs to know, because it’s where I’ve seen them lose out the most, is by filing too late. And so the way it works is that in most of the world, if you make the idea public, before you apply for a patent, and then it’s too late, so in most of the world, it’s what’s called absolute novelty. Where, if it was made public in any way, before you apply for a patent, then it’s game over. But in the US, there is technically a one year ice period. Okay. But in the US, there’s technically a one year grace period, where if you put it out there, and then you, you file a patent application within a year, you still can be okay. But many times what happens is that, you know, people launching a product, they want to be conservative with their resources, which is extremely understandable in business, you want to spend money on what you need to spend money on. And so they’ll say, Okay, well, patents are expensive, so why don’t I put it off? And if things go, well, then I’ll get a patent. The problem is, they come to me after two years have gone by, and I have to give them the unhappy news that it’s too late to ever apply for a patent.
Joe Valley 6:49
Absolutely, yeah. And then everybody you asked one year, it’s game over. Okay. And and if you do it nine months in, the rest of the world is off, right? You clock
Rich Goldstein 7:00
most of the world is off, there’s still some places where there’s a grace period, but most of the world is off. And that’s why I mentioned that it’s that the rule about the most of the world first, because a lot of times people that know a little bit of patents, think about that one year rule. And they say, Well, I don’t really have to do anything until a year goes by. I mean, that’s fine. If you want to give up your foreign foreign rights.
Joe Valley 7:26
Yeah, right. So and And usually, those are the ones who are going to knock you off the most, you know, the Chinese competitors, which is challenging.
Rich Goldstein 7:36
But that’s also a good thing to understand about this, too, is people wonder like, well, do I need Chinese patents? Or do do I need a patent in every country around the world? So the way to back into that question is, what a US Patent does a US Patent prevents anyone else from making using or selling the product in the US? So okay, can they make it in China? Yes, but then can they bring it here and sell it here? No, not if you have a US Patent? So the most common thing people are worried about when they say, Do I need a Chinese patent? is whether it can be made overseas and brought in here? And the answer is no. If you have a US patent,
Joe Valley 8:19
and how do you fight that? Let’s just go straight to the beast, Amazon, you know, anybody that’s selling a product these days, they’re more than likely selling on Amazon and more than likely sign the majority of their revenues on Amazon. And I’m obviously generalizing there. But patent protection wise, let’s say somebody has a patent utility design, and we’ll get into that in a bit as well. Amazon’s gotten a lot better at helping their sellers fight infringement, I believe, right?
Rich Goldstein 8:49
Yes. And I would say that, from, from the standpoint of someone who has the patent, you know, Amazon is practically a dream, you know, you just do when you make an IP complaint, and and they shut down the competitors listings and in most circumstances, so it’s great to be the one that’s holding the patent when you’re dealing with Amazon. Because the problem is that the avail they’re even a bit overzealous in terms of shutting people down. As you know, a lot of times people get shut down unfairly because of patents. So if you have the patent, Amazon’s great. If someone’s coming at you with a patent, it’s not so great.
Joe Valley 9:31
Yeah. And we’ve we’ve both had a client in common in that regard. Talk to us about the different types of patents. And let me just say that, you know, I’ve been doing what I do here as an advisor quite light for eight years now. And, you know, of all the transactions I’ve done, Rich, I think probably only a handful of them, maybe five have had any kind of patent protection. Everybody has seemed Have a trademark. And we’ll get into that a bit as well. But for those listening, if there’s an opportunity for you to get a patent, and you believe in yourself in the marketability of the product, you will get more value, because one of the four things that buyers are looking for is defensibility of the business, and there’s nothing better than a patent. Now, let’s talk about breaking that down a little bit Rich, design, patent and utility patent, because I hear this, you know, easier to get a design patent. But utility patent is more defensible. Can you talk about the differences between the two? Yeah,
Rich Goldstein 10:36
absolutely. I mean, and you’re totally correct about that. I mean, design patent tends to be easier to get, actually a lot easier to get. But in many scenarios can be less valuable. Amazon is an exception to that. And we’ll talk about that in a moment. So first of all, the difference between the two utility patent is what we what you typically think of when you think of an invention, or you think of someone patenting an invention, you think of someone made an improvement, somebody worked in their garage and came up with a, like a better way for a can opener to operate. And so they come up with a mechanism. And the utility patent then is what would protect that improvement and protect that structural difference, that those functional differences. That’s what a utility patent is all about, like the kind of stereotypical notion of what an invention is. And that’s how it’s protected. A design patent is strictly about the appearance, it’s strictly about the way the product looks. So the shape of the product. And so if you get a design patent, then it’s really only protecting a product that has that appearance. And so if someone had copies the concept of what you’re doing functionally, and just and makes it look different, then it’s not going to infringe the design patent. So over the years, people would always say that, well, utility patents have valuable design patents not so much, because with a design patent, you just change the way it looks, and then you’re getting around the patent. And that has you know, that’s that’s valid, except that these days, on Amazon, there’s certain advantages. So first of all, because a design patent is about the way that the product looks. Then if you do an IP complaint on Amazon, for let’s, let’s go the other exam for utility patent. So utility patents about a functionality. Now utility patents and infringement. It’s about wording. It’s about kind of a definition in the patent that describes exactly what’s covered. It’s like a table that has four legs, and it has, you know, rubber feet on the base of whatever it’s, it doesn’t fit the definition, where the design patent is just about the way it looks in the drawings. So the Now again, look toward the situation, someone does an IP complaint on Amazon. They say this hijacker is copying my utility patented product, Amazon is faced with trying to interpret this patent. But if it’s a design patent, then you’re saying, hey, this hijacker that product, it looks like my design. Well, Amazon is just going to look at the drawings in the design patent, they’re going to look at the the product listing, that’s that you’re you’re looking to shut down and they’ll say, Okay, looks the same. And they shut them down. So it’s actually easier to get recourse on Amazon with a design patent than with a utility patent. So it could be quite valuable. And the other thing is, you know, just think about how people copy you on Amazon, people typically don’t say, hey, that’s a great concept. Let’s take some time and design our own. They say, you know what, I’m just gonna knock this off. Let me see if I could find the same manufacturer to sell me some of that product, or, or even just, he has another manufacturer in China, and they send them a sample and say, can you make this exact thing. So when people copy you on Amazon, they don’t get imaginative about it, which means it’s going to look the same, which means it’s going to infringe the design patent. So what traditionally design patents might be less valuable. they’ve actually been very patent. They’ve been very valuable on Amazon. And I advise people that if you have a product that you’re launching on Amazon, that has a fairly distinctive look. You might as well do a design patent because it could really pay off later.
Joe Valley 14:46
Can you work with the folks you know, gamba or down here at inventus in Charlotte and and and get an industrial designer to change the look and design of the product even though the functionality the utility of is the same? Can you design it differently? And then apply for a design patent? obviously don’t know if you can if you can,
Rich Goldstein 15:09
yes, I mean it. The situation matters, of course. But, uh, but often Yes, you can do that, like if if you recognize that when someone has a design patent, it’s not about the functionality, then yeah, you could you could make your own design and, and get your own patent for it.
Joe Valley 15:31
Well, let’s talk about, you know, one of the I think, one of the reasons people don’t apply for the patent, obviously, they thought they had more time megawatt to market and it’s right 13 months out, like, too late. The other is that like, Man, that’s just it’s a lot of dough. It’s I’m barely scraping together money here for inventory. What What is the cost difference between utility and design? And I think there’s quite a
Rich Goldstein 15:55
significant difference. So there is quite a significant difference. And, you know, and you’re right, I mean, people that are launching products. I mean, a lot of times, being successful on Amazon is about being scrappy, it’s about being able to move quickly and get something out there and not spend a lot of money on launch, because it’s a bit of a numbers game, and not every product is going to be successful. So if you get a few out there a few irons in the fire inexpensively, then that can be the the key to success. So with that in mind. Yeah, I mean, it’s something you want to carefully consider whether it’s worth patenting. But in terms of the difference in price, typical utility patent is going to be at least $10,000. Where design patent just a few. So it’s just a few. Yeah.
Joe Valley 16:46
So I applied once upon a time, my wife and I just designed a product, and we applied for a utility patent. And looking back, I kind of wish we had just focused on the design pattern, it’s before I knew Otherwise, I would have used you and I would have gotten the patent. Whereas I actually didn’t get the patent. But I wished I had focused on the design aspect of it. But it’s an e commerce business. And I’d never go in there. Again, I love doing what I do here as an advisor, Quiet Light. So I’m actually working with the folks down at inventus. in Charlotte, they’re going to give it to somebody a former client of Quiet Light’s, actually, and let them run with the product if they can. Oh, interesting. But for those that are listening and have products and are thinking Well, how do I find an industrial designer, I’ve mentioned them twice. inventus partners down in Charlotte, very, very good at what they do been around for about 2022 years. Louis Foreman is one of the founders, the company lives down the street from me, one of my friends, and then Zack over at gumba. Great guy. We’ve had him on the podcast, they do fantastic.
Rich Goldstein 17:47
I’ve had jack Zack on my podcast as well. And I love the guys again, but they’re really great, really fantastic. I agree.
Joe Valley 17:54
One of the things that you actually talked about at the billion dollar summit, and when we were there was Zach as well, was taking expired patents and innovating them to keep talking about that a little bit in terms of people with, you know, motivation now. Yeah.
Rich Goldstein 18:12
Do you? I’m glad to remember that. You know, like you remember my talk from last November that I was that
Joe Valley 18:17
one guy that was listening. Just for the record. Look, everybody. Richard, I bet
Rich Goldstein 18:21
it was all for you.
Joe Valley 18:24
Richard, I both did a presentation on the same day. And after the presentations of the day, Kevin, who’s the founder of the event, he has everybody breakout into different groups. There’s, there’s a table where Rich and Joe or there’s a table for Matt and Jason and the different things that they talked about. And that event was all about, you know, driving revenue and importing from China and competing and knocking off competitors. Rich, I sat at the table alone together. No one had any advice?
Rich Goldstein 18:53
Yeah, talking to us. Right. Right. So so no one had any question. I guess our presentations were so complete that no one had any questions. And that’s what I was thinking. Yeah, exactly. And so you and I had got a chance to talk. So Exactly.
Joe Valley 19:06
Let’s talk about reverse engineering something. Okay, an expired patent. How do you do that?
Rich Goldstein 19:10
Okay, so, so few principles here that are that are important to that. And one is that once a patent expires, it can’t be renewed. And once a patent expires, it’s fair game. So if you want to do exactly what was in the patent, the expired patent, you’re free to do that. It’s kind of like the whole basis of the patent system is that in exchange for protecting you, for a limited time, say 20 years with your patent, you’re essentially explaining it, you’re explaining the the product, you’re explaining the idea in full in that patent application, so that at the end of that time period, you’ve explained to the future essentially how to go ahead with your product, how to go ahead with your invention. So this There’s some real beauty to that. And that not only is it that it’s free for you to use it, but the inventor laid out for you exactly how to go ahead doing it. So, so there is this invaluable resource in the the patent record in the 10 million plus issued United States patents, where there are tons of bring it out of the darkness into the light and have it and have that idea half its day. And there’s nothing you need to do, you don’t need to contact the inventor, you don’t need to get permission from their errors, you just can go ahead and do it.
Joe Valley 20:40
How do you go ahead and search for expired patents?
Rich Goldstein 20:44
Aha, the million dollar question. Yes. Um, so um, so one of the the best resources for for searching patents easily, not thoroughly, but easily is Google patents. So that’s patents pa t nts.google.com. And there are some kind of, you know, expert navigation features on the left hand side, one of them allows you to limit limit the date that the patent is from, and you can say that it was that it’s that issued more than or that it was filed more than 20 years ago, because essentially utility patents filed more than 20 years ago now expired. design patents issued more than 15 years ago, are expired also. So you want to limit it by date. And then it gets a little bit complicated in terms of the search query. The best way is to look by classification. And that’s probably more involved than I could just describe right here. But the point is that there’s over 100,000, different classifications where where patents are arranged. So basically, all kind of hand tools might be in, in class for and hand tools with a sharpened edge might be then in subclass 161. Yeah. And so you do a little research, find that subclass, you could plug it into Google patents. And then you find all the patents that fit the category you’re looking for. You’re looking for sharpened hand tools, and, and you do that, and then you limit it by date, and then all of a sudden, you’re looking at expired patents. And you have to do a good amount of hunting to find those good ideas. Because there’s a lot of mediocre ideas. It’s