How To Invent

A step-by-step guide for non-inventors to start inventing.
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  • Lectures 14
  • Contents Video: 2 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
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About This Course

Published 9/2013 English

Course Description

"How To Invent" is a step-by-step guide for non-inventors to start inventing.

This course shows you how inventing is not hard, and provides you with the basic tools and practice you need.  

The course is structured in screencast lectures, practice sessions, and quizzes to connect the dots from having an idea in your head, to capturing that idea on paper.  

Take this course if you need to protect ideas.  If your ideas are not written down they are not intellectual property.  Capturing inventions can protect your business (or your employer's), help your team to be more creative and collaborative, and it is the necessary first step to earning that patent you've always wanted.  

What are the requirements?

  • None. Come as you are.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • The big goal of this course is to get you capturing your ideas as inventions.

What is the target audience?

  • Anyone interested in creating intellectual property by inventing.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

When was the last time someone at work told you that you have great ideas?

Inside, each of us *secretly* KNOWs we have great ideas. But outside, in the real world of work, management, and performance reviews, our ideas are ignored or, more likely, discouraged. If you've ever heard a boss say "So, ... you are telling me I don't know how to do my job?" You know how invention-discouragement, feels.

Before I discovered inventing at HP, I was very frustrated broad minded person crushed into a narrow job.

Then, I discovered HP's invention process. The GENIUS of this process is that inventors turned in disclosures not to their bosses, but to a team that focused on evaluating the idea's technical and economic merit. That team, was the patent committee.

At HP patent committees encouraged bosses for their employees who invent. So HP inventors avoided much of the default-negative-boss-response-to-new-ideas.

So the HP employee invents again. Boss gets encouraged again by patent committee, but sees a pattern beginning and tells employee "You have to do your job, don't invent any more." Next invention, HP employee puts boss's name on invention as co-inventor ... *FINGERS SNAP* ... boss is 100% behind employee inventing henceforth

If you've read this far ..

you need to experience inventing to believe it. From the outside inventing looks like the dryest subject imaginable. But from the inside, inventing is about life. Life of the mind. Life of companies. The life of discovering hope on a seemingly soul-less corporate treadmill. When you start inventing your friends who have until now told you "You are being disruptive." will suddenly flip to say "It looks like you are hitting your stride!"

Inventing is transformational ...

This two minute lecture gives you an introduction to the intellectual property on-ramp that has worked to invite thousands of "employees" to transform themselves into "inventors." If you are under-appreciated at work, keep reading so you can break out of your rut.

Believe and you will receive ...

Some things have to be believed to be seen. For now, think to yourself "My ideas are great!" Now, freeze frame, and hold "My ideas are great!" as a temporary belief. Just for a while, just to yourself. Before the end of the class, your temporary belief will "prime" the pump of your inventing, and bring awesome idea after awesome idea from your mind into your astonished hands.

bill meade

Section 2: How do ideas make money?

You are an inventor, you are afraid of starting your company without some kind of protected advantage. if you talk to a patent attorney s/he will say "You need a patent to stay in business." FYI, the patent attorney you are talking to will make about $6,000 of the $9,000 you pay to have your idea submitted as a patent. Their incentive is to encourage every inventor because if they let you out of the office without leaving any of your cash, how long will it be before another inventor appears who REALLY NEEDS protection?

Now patents are all well and good, but how many businesses do you know that have patents protecting them?Super Cuts? Great Clips? Come to think of it, do you know ANY companies that claim a patent as a competitive advantage? Ok, Amazon has the One Click Patent. But, can you name any other patents?

This lecture explores what kinds of companies can exist without patent protection, in fact, most companies live without patent protection. See region 1a "Know How" in Figure 1:

Figure 1

More specifically, this lecture looks at INC Magazine's fastest growing companies and shares the research that shows 88% of the fastest growing companies have no unique selling proposition. These companies live and die based on exceptional execution. For the most part, INC founders take their idea from previous employers.

Lecture is six minutes long.

p.s., Even if you will never need patents, you will need other forms of intellectual property (copyrights, trade marks, etc.) as you will see in Lecture 3 below.

6 questions

How unprotect and protected ideas make money


This lecture is a "big picture" coverage of the types of intellectual property that are covered in this class. In addition to the best-sellers (patents, copyright, trademarks) less well known forms of IP are covered (trade secrets, defensive publications, IP created by contract).

A big picture understanding of these forms of IP is critical because every business needs a unique mix of IP protections to run at optimal profitability. Each of these six forms of IP protect a company's business from a specific legally defined form of unfair competition. Unfair competitors can be taken to court and legally stopped by injunction or by imposing a tax (license). The basic archetype of court protection looks like this:

And the end of the lecture, you'll have a familiarity with the names of each IP form, and a feel for how each form applies in commerce. Then, in the next six lectures each form of IP is explored in depth.

Six Forms of Intellectual Property Quiz
5 questions

Patents are the top-of-mind "king" of intellectual property. Spectacular patent wars have taken patents into popular culture where people freely have opinions and expectations of patents, that are disconnected from legal and business reality.

This lecture focuses on patents, their costs, functions, speed to issue, properties as government granted monopolies, and the exchange of a temporary monopoly for long term technology stimulation, which is the reason behind the U.S. founders (in particular Thomas Jefferson) instituting the U.S. patent system.

Your business may require patents in order to exist (pharmaceuticals) or not (Inc. 500), either way this lecture attempts to lay out the structure and functioning of patents and their protections, technically. I am not a lawyer, so my bias to this exploration is to skew towards business applications.

Patents Quiz
10 questions

If patents are the king of intellectual property, contractual IP is like a long-lost rich relative ... with no heir. Most people have not heard about contractual IP because it lives covertly in contracts.

But, .. in the sense that IP exists to prevent unfair competition, contractual IP exists to prevent specific forms of competitive unfairness: employees starting or working for competitors, preventing theft of trade secrets, etc.

So, ... taste this lecture and think about your long lost contractual IP relative, and whether s/he can make you rich! :-)

Contractually-Created IP Quiz
5 questions

If patents are kings and contractual IP is a long lost relative, then trade secrets are the rebellious teenage boys of intellectual property.

In theory, trade secrets (like teenage boys) seem like a huge help. But, in practice, teenagers/trade-secrets have a tendency to evaporate when work needs to be done.

With teenage boys, the problem is rebellion and ... teenage girls. With trade secrets, the problem is proving that a former employee who is now using your trade secrets at a new competitor, knew that the idea was a trade secret while s/he was working for you. Among the normal million things that can go wrong in a court room.

Still, trade secrets can be much more powerful if you vigorously manage them. Vigorously by selecting key employees who could start a competitor, and then brief them on the trade secrets, record that they were briefed, and take care of the briefing records.

Trade secrets are really cool, very powerful, they just need a bit of extra care to have maximum impact. Drop in on this lecture and step through what trade secrets are and how you can capture the value of maximum impact trade secrets.

Trade Secrets Quiz
10 questions

Defensive publications are the grubby country cousin of intellectual property. Acknowledged, but not seen as a the formidable competitive weapon that they can be.

This lecture introduces defensive publications and what they are. Then, an example creative use of defensive publications to send "just a friendly shot across the bow" is explained. This strategy can give small companies leverage in a david-vs-goliath battles. The david-vs-goliath defensive publication strategy has many of the benefits of expensive litigation, without the expense.

Come on in and check defensive publications out!

Defensive Publications Quiz
10 questions

Trademarks are the librarian of the family. Lots of details, specific tasks at specific times, specific responses, lots and lots of background material for that research paper you don't really want to write.

Fear not, trade marks too, ... are cool, as well as historical, and beautiful.

Trademarks evolved (around 1770 in the US) out of the development of US national rail networks, telegraph networks, and the resulting rise of national brands. Trademarks protect brands in a geography. Registered trademarks in a national geography, and unregistered trademarks in local geographies.

If you are going to sell a product, you need to know about trademarks. This lecture will get you started.

Trademark Quiz
10 questions

Copyright is the annoying precocious younger sister of intellectual property. You know her, beautiful, A student, effortlessly happy, perfect kids, no struggles in life.

Seriously, the protections are in copyright's name = "copy" + "right." And, where getting a patent to issue is slow, expensive, laborious, bureaucratic, etc., etc., etc., copyright is simple, unified around the world. You don't even have to file a copyright to be protected. The other five forms of intellectual property, are jealous of how easy copyright has it.

And often, copyright is the best IP form for small companies to make money with: low cost, solid protection, nice long protection term, statutory damages, I'm getting jealous just telling you about copyright. Come on in to this lecture and get jealous yourself!

Copyright Quiz
10 questions
Section 3: How to capture inventions

Patents suffer from a lot of sociological "baggage" from academia.

For example, many non-inventors assume that a patent is about the same amount of work as a master's thesis in a technical grad school. And, ... therefore, the invention disclosure for the patent is about as much work as a master's thesis. Not true, if we are going to use academia as a baseline for patentability, an invention disclosure is about as difficult as a blue-book essay on a single question in a master's level class.

Another piece of baggage inherited from academia, is the assumption that there is such a thing as a dunce inventor.

In my workshops people say "I don't want to turn my idea in because it may win THE DUMBEST IDEA AWARD." To which I respond (futile) "There is no dumbest idea award! The patent attorneys down stream are trying to get your inventing turned on. They would never award a dumbest idea because that would *instantly* turn all inventing off."

This lecture acknowledges that there is sociological baggage for first time inventors, and then it resets expectations about how EASY it is to invent. Inventing is also fun. Listen to this lecture, and let go of whatever is preventing you from inventing.


As an inventor, you don't need to do the legal department's job for them. In fact, the legal team wants you to NOT TRY DO THEIR JOB FOR THEM. An important key to successful inventing is to be yourself, don't impersonate an IP professional. It is a lot less stress ...

Inventors: capture the minimum sufficient information to allow your idea to be evaluated, and you have done your job so that the IP professionals can do their job. ... Read that sentence again!

This lecture steps through the "plumbing" of the patenting process to cement your expectations about what is required of inventing.

... and then ...

gives you a small (15 minute) case study example, so you can practice filling in your first invention disclosure. Don't stress, all the inventing is in the 1 paragraph story, all you have to do is extract the 9 component pieces of the story and fit them into the invention disclosure form.


This lecture is a step-by-step answer to the invention disclosing case from lecture 11. You can follow along with your invention disclosure and calibrate your answers to mine. Disclosing is all about calibration. Fill a field in, learn that it was not right, ask "Why not?" then incorporate the reason why not. Do a better disclosure next time.

It takes about six disclosures for the average inventor to learn an invention disclosure form. Feedback like this lecture is not necessary. I watched an inventor in India do six disclosures in a row and the quality of the disclosures doubled with each disclosure. By the third disclosure the inventor was writing ideas that were definitely going to be patented. Inventors learn how to write great disclosures the way babies learn to walk: by trying.

I've included a step-by-step disclosing lecture to get you to calibrate your first disclosure, and to encourage you to disclose more. This is not rocket science. It is a deliberate-practice-learned-skill.


After you invent and let your ideas free into the invention protection system, you will experience disappointment. The trick to becoming a strong inventor, is to take the lemons you get from your particular invention protection system, and to make them into the lemonade of calibration

This is hard for first time inventors. Some inventors can't handle any response from a patent committee except "file as patent." However, if you are good inventor, you are going to produce defensive publications and trade secrets as well as patents. Expect balance in your inventive output. Balance is a good thing.

If you go for 100% patenting of ideas, you will be creatively constipated. Attorneys tell me that if the file rate is like 75% or above, they are "Not seeing enough disclosing." IBM the magister ludi of intellectual property, reputedly has a file rate of 33%. Not a bad percentage for a soon-to-be-strong-inventor to shoot for. You must "fail enough" to optimally succeed.

Section 4: How to ensure that ideas are enabled

There are two kinds of enablement: HOW and FIT. For your invention to have an impact, it needs to be technically enabled so that the patent committee can understand HOW the idea works. And, ... the idea needs to FIT the economic context that your live within. The idea must add revenue, decrease cost, increase competitive advantage or decrease competitive disadvantage. The idea must be business-related.

This lecture introduces the concept of enablement early. Typically inventors learn about enablement by not achieving it and having invention disclosures returned with "not business relevant" stamped on them. This gives inventors whiplash, as the patent committee encouraged them to turn in "any" ideas.


Learning about enablement by disclosure-rejection is a waste. Not just a waste for inventors, non-enabled ideas waste time of the patent committee as well as scarce clerical resources. Enablement is the end that inventors need to have in mind when they begin.

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Instructor Biography

Bill Meade, PatentGeek

Former patent portfolio manger for HP's LaserJet group, has run over 200 invention workshops across US and around world. Ph.D. in marketing with minors in statistics, econometrics, electrical engineering, and evolutionary ecology. Professor since 1990.

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