Saturday, November 19, 2011

The New Patent Law Modifications Were Needed

imageThis article was written by Jim Fulton, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

The recent changes to the Patent Law of the USA have caused consternation among the public. As usual with Congress, they involved a variety of largely unrelated compromises. The changes involved two major features:

1. The Congress now allows the US Patent and Trademark Office to keep more of the fees it collects, in order to hire more examiners. This had the goal of reducing the backlog in unexamined applications that are now delaying patent awards into the four year or longer time period.  The time to obtain an actual patent has become so long that I have had to change my interpretation of how venture capitalists consider new ideas.  Whereas they used to prefer, even demand, an issued patent before providing financial support to an organization exploiting a new invention, they recognize they can no longer wait for the issuance of a patent. The VC must accept more risk in considering these new inventions.

2. The Congress changed the primary criteria for establishing who is entitled to Patent protection. The new law says the first person to file a viable patent application, potentially including a provisional patent, is entitled to be recognized as the inventor. Up until now, the law stated that the first person to invent something was the legal inventor. This criterion led to endless arguments in courtrooms about who could demonstrate most forcefully they invented something before someone else (sometimes several years before any application was actually filed). Not infrequently, these cases went on for over ten years. In one case, Edwin Armstrong, the now recognized inventor of frequency modulation (FM) radio, committed suicide by jumping from his radio tower in sight of the RCA Building in New York when he lost an extended case to the Radio Corporation of America.  This change makes it more important to file a viable (complete) patent application early. It also raises the importance of filing a viable "provisional patent application."  If the provisional patent does not contain a well worded statement of its claims, the filer is left in the same situation as before; a long legal battle can be expected as to whether the claimant actually and adequately disclosed a new and novel invention at the time they filed the provisional patent.

As before, the inventor's best path is to read David Pressman's Book on "How to Prepare Your Own Patent" that is available from nearly every city library. It is also available for about $30 from Nolo Press in Berkeley, Calif. As does he, I advise reading his book, preparing a preliminary patent application, doing a preliminary search of the Patent Office files over the Internet, and then hiring an experienced Patent Agent to prepare your formal application. The preliminary search must be done using the Patent Office files. Doing a Google search is a waste of your time. The Patent Office files can be accessed at

Use the HTML row of letters to select the first letter of how you describe your invention, a lamp, a pump, a motor, etc. You will then be taken to a list of how the Patent Office interprets that title and suggests the appropriate class and subclass in their system to  examine.  They will frequently suggest an alternate name or category to search.

Internet Marketing: How to Convert Online Prospects to Customers with Authority Marketing

imageThis article was written by Pete Lisoskie

Our world has shifted.  As business owners, we’ve gone through a tough recession.  While the economy faltered, technology did not and your customers changed the way they found, evaluated, and decided on their product or service purchases.  They went from offline advertising to local online advertising.  Don’t believe it?  Yellow page companies are going bankrupt. Newspapers are going out of business.  When you go into Starbucks do you see more newspapers or laptops?

Let’s look at some startling statistics that are impacting your business as you read this article:

· There are more than 2.6 billion local searches each month on the internet.

· 30% of all search engine queries contain city, state or zip code.

· The internet surpassed yellow pages & newspapers for local consumer information.

· 70% of U.S. households use the internet when shopping locally. Do you?

· 54% of search users have substituted internet search for the phone book.

· Consumers are doing product research online, but 67% of the purchases by consumers are made offline locally.

· 34% of bloggers post about products and services: what they are saying about you?

· Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S.

· If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world

· YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world

· Every minute 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube

· A new member joins LinkedIn every second

· Groupon will reach $1 billion in sales faster than any company in history

· 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations from Yelp, City Search, and Google

Social media, internet search, and online evaluation are the very fabric that your existing and new customers are using to find products and services.  If you are not online now or have a strategy on how to do this, most likely your business will not exist 5 years from now. You don’t really have a choice on whether you have an online presence; the question is how you do it?  The answer: Authority Marketing. Remember, good marketing is good marketing online or offline. All customers go through a 3-Step psychological buying process of Search, Evaluate, and Decide.  Most Search Engine Optimization companies cover search to get you on page 1 of Google or have a social media presence, but they are not helping you convert those prospects into customers.  This is where Authority Marketing is powerful.  As a business owner, you MUST become the Online Authority so customers choose you. What is Authority Marketing?  It is an integrated marketing approach using keyword strategy, social media, videos, articles, blogging, coupon sites, Google maps, email, and text messaging.  The outcome is your customer taking a Call to Action, CTA. A CTA is a phone call, email, service request, or booking. In future articles, we’ll cover each piece of Authority Marketing so you can implement it into your own business.

About the Author: Pete’s 14+ years experience in small business and entrepreneurialism helped him to create business startups from financial services, publishing, seminars, recruiting, construction, network marketing, radio shows, and internet-related products and services. Lisoskie founded beLocal and the exclusive “Authority Marketing Program” for local small business bricks and mortar.

What is an Employer to do….?

imageThis article was written by Robin Noah, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

More and more employers are burdened with rules and regulations regarding employee issues. Many employers turn to background checks to ensure, to the best of their ability, that the persons they hire will not become challenges in their workplace.

At a recent Society for Human Resources Management conference in Washington, DC one of the topics discussed was the act of background checks. It was mentioned that because bias complaints from rejected job applicants are on the rise the EEOC is cracking down on discrimination in employers’ hiring practices.

A case in point is a comment from INC magazine (Dec 2010) that the U S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw a record 99,922 discrimination claims filed in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010.  It was the highest number of cases brought in the agency’s 45-year history.

So what is an employer to do?

“Take a more proactive approach toward education and prevention.”

Employers need to 1) understand the rules for background checks and 2) review all of their company’s selection procedures, making sure they’re necessary and related to the positions they’re going to hire for. You can get more information at

A small business owner or nonprofit organization can take a proactive stance to protect themselves against employee workplace lawsuits primarily by hiring the right people. Additionally know what employees’ legal rights are, and be scrupulous in following the law,”

“Become knowledgeable of labor practices.”

A review of current procedures, handbooks, training or educational tools in place should be done annually to ensure that current rules, regulations and laws are reflected. I also recommend that employers have Methods and Procedures guidelines to guard against future lawsuits of discrimination. Nonprofits frequently have a Managing Volunteers Guide.

“Protect the company against lawsuits”

A good business practice is to look into Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to develop protection against liability that may arise out of employment practices. Nonprofit organizations should also look into the impact of their volunteer staffs.

Mind Your Business: A Scary Proposition

This article was written by Jeanette Mulvey, BusinessNewsDaily Managing Editor – Reprinted by Permission


Taking the leap into entrepreneurship can be a scary proposition. That's especially true if you're betting all your chips (and dollars, for that matter) on the success of this one great business venture.
And it's not just small businesses that have reason to be afraid. In our story, "The 10 Scariest Business Blunders of the Year," we look at some of this year's missteps and misfortunes of some of the country's biggest businesses. For companies both big and small, there's never been a more nerve-racking time to be in business. The good news is that small businesses stand a better chance of surviving even in this frightening age of economic uncertainty, unrelenting social media scrutiny and a constantly changing competitive landscape.
Here are a few things small businesses can do to leverage their strengths and avoid making the mistakes that have sent many a big business to the corporate graveyard.

Customer service – There's no doubt small business can offer better customer service than the big guys. That's probably the reason why your customers come to you. Be sure you take care to keep your customer service chops polished, and you'll beat your big competitors every time.

Social mediaSocial media marketing is truly the great equalizer. It allows you to develop a local, national or international following without spending even a dime. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and websites like Yelp help small businesses create a big presence. Don't miss one single opportunity to use them.

Giving back – Customers want to buy from someone who understands where they come from. When you get involved with your local community, you become one of your customers and they'd always rather buy from one of their own. Find a charity, a cause or a group to support and get involved.

Changing on a dime – Consumer tastes and preferences can change overnight. For big companies, with large infrastructures and long lead times, changing to meet those demands can be challenging. Small businesses, on the other hand, can change overnight. Be sure you're listening to your customers and are ready to give what they want, when they want it.

Flexibility – When's the last time a giant company worked with a customer to reduce the price on a bill or find a creative solution to a problem? It rarely happens. You, on the other hand, can make the big decisions that allow you to give a customer a break or offer a special service to meet a customer's unique need. Take advantage of it.

Teamwork – Small companies have the ability to handpick a specialized team of employees, all of whom bring a different set of skills and focus to your business. Big companies, on the other hand, don't have that kind of control over how their teams develop. No matter how hard they try, there will eventually be slackers, malcontents and troublemakers. Use your small stature to make sure you create a team that treats each customer individually and that can carry on your vision for running a great business, even in your ads.

SCORE OC Gets the Word Out through Social Media

Those of you familiar with SCORE 114's Facebook page might be surprised to see that we've added a new look and a whole lot of new content to Facebook as well as all our other social media sites. We're now known as SCORE OC (facebook/, and we're posting comments, news items and events several times a week. We have a brand new Wordpress blog ( where we post original content based on the experiences of SCORE clients and counselors, and we welcome your comments there. You can also now join us on LinkedIn -- we have lively discussions going on in the SCORE Orange County Group, and would love to hear from you as well. And, if you follow us on Twitter (@scoreoc) you will see regular updates about articles, events and news of interest to small businesses in Orange County. Come check us out on social media, and learn what SCORE OC can do for your business and you!

You can find us at the following sites:


LinkedIn: (SCORE Orange County Discussion Group)

Twitter:!/scoreoc (@scoreoc)