Episode 77 – Our Podcast Guest is an Amazon Product Hijacker’s Worst Nightmare
Growing up on Staten Island, today’s guest was diligently moving forward on an electrical engineering career track when he stopped for just a moment to consider what that might mean.
In his view, a career as an electrical engineer involved working, sometimes for years at a time at perfecting one very specific part of a larger technological puzzle.
He had long imagined himself a businessman with a love of marketing and could see that becoming an engineer wouldn’t scratch those entrepreneurial itches.
On this episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Customer Success, Bradley Sutton is speaking with Rich Goldstein of Goldstein Patent Law. Rich will explain how patent law not only made possible a career that allows him to do something different every single day; it also helped him fulfill an important role for the many entrepreneurs active on Amazon.
After initially shifting from electrical engineering to patent law, Rich found himself with a degree and tried to imagine what the next step might be.
For a lot of new attorneys, the answer would have been to join a larger firm and hope to support himself with the crumbs that were left behind by the firm’s power players.
Instead, Rich decided to start his own law firm and used his marketing smarts in order to create a clever way to put himself in the middle of a very successful group of people who would need his services.
He started a magazine.
But not just any magazine.
He started a magazine for inventors.
Then, he began advertising his services in order to be right there as a ready source of information.
That was a big hit.
Next, he was approached by the American Bar Association to write a book about obtaining a patent.
In getting ready to launch the book he first went to a Traffic and Conversion Summit, later joining their War Room Mastermind group where he quickly realized that it was in eCommerce that his expertise was really needed.
He says that he’s happy that his bustling practice caters to small entrepreneurs and start-ups selling patented products on Amazon.
But, how does someone know that they need patent law assistance?
According to Rich, if you sell enough on Amazon, eventually you’re going to save considerable money by reaching out for Amazon patent assistance. At the same time, even considering whether you might need patent help is a very useful exercise to go through in the process of deciding if the product is really positioned to make you significant money.
Rich says that Amazon’s ecosystem creates an interesting situation where the logic concerning the relative value of the two types of patents is completely opposite the conventional wisdom.
That’s just one more reason to listen in to today’s episode. In it, he’ll make sure you know the difference between patents and trademarks and explain how to go about patenting a method of tying a shoelace.
In episode 77 of the Serious Sellers, Podcast Bradley and Rich discuss:
- 02:40 – An Electrical Engineer’s Life Would Have Been Too Predictable
- 04:40 – A Long History with Marketing All the Way Back to College
- 05:35 – Creating A Steady Supply of Clients by Starting A Magazine for Inventors
- 06:40 – Joining WarRoom to Put Himself in the Middle of High-Level Marketers
- 09:15 – How Do You Make Money with A Patented Method of Tying Shoes?
- 13:00 – Confusing Trademarks and Patents
- 14:40 – On Amazon the Value of Design Patents Dramatically Increases
- 18:40 – Caveat – Patents are Always Subject to What Existed Before
- 20:00 – The Best Defense Against Unfair Patent Challenges
- 23:55 – Patents are Territorial
- 27:03 – If You Sell Enough, You’ll Eventually Need Patent Help
- 28:55 – Saving Money Through Discernment
- 31:20 – Patent What Makes Your Product Distinct and Special
- 33:48 – 30 Seconds of Patent Wisdom
- 35:37 – How to Get in Touch with Rich
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on Amazon? Here are few carefully curated resources to get you started:
- Freedom Ticket: Taught by Amazon thought leader Kevin King, get A-Z Amazon strategies and techniques for establishing and solidifying your business.
- Ultimate Resource Guide: Discover the best tools and services to help you dominate on Amazon.
- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
- Helium 10 Chrome Extension: Verify your Amazon product idea and validate how lucrative it can be with over a dozen data metrics and profitability estimation.
- SellerTradmarks.com: Trademarks are vital for protecting your Amazon brand from hijackers, and sellertrademarks.com provides a streamlined process for helping you get one.
Bradley Sutton: Today’s podcast guest started out as an engineer but then pivoted and became a patent attorney. Find out how that happened and why and when Amazon sellers would need patents for their products.
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. I am your host Bradley Sutton, and this is the show that’s a completely BS-free, unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the eCommerce world. And today, again, we have an in-house guest, not a remote one. Sitting across the table here from me is the one and only Rich Goldstein. Rich, how’s it going?
Rich Goldstein: Well, thanks.
Bradley Sutton: Now this is not your first time. Definitely, of course in the Orange County. I think I might’ve related this experience before, but it’s, it’s not one of my better moments. But you were out here a few months ago for the Elite Workshop, right. And we had come out here with Liran and, and then we went to a club afterwards we were thinking we’re all bougie I was thinking I was all bougie, had a bottle service at a table. And then you come in, you know, I was there already. You come in and you come in with a little, like a little baggy and it had these like very colorful small things. And I was like, Whoa, that’s so nice of Rich to offer me these. And you put a couple in my hand. I was like, these are some great looking gummy bears. So of course I pop it into my mouth and I’m like, these are not very good tasting and why, the music is very loud and Rich making all these hand gestures and say, no, no, no. And so why were you saying no, no, no rich?
Rich Goldstein: Because it was an earplug and they were your plugs, Jewish mother in me brought earplugs for everyone so that it could tolerate the evening of being in loud music at the club.
Bradley Sutton: Now whenever I see you here in Orange County, I just, go back to there. And I know we’re about to film some things in the tequila tasting room soon. So whenever I think of alcohol, I’m like gonna I think of these earplugs that I thought were gummy bears. But anyways, I always start out these podcasts trying to get a little background and I love showing people that, we don’t only interview Amazon sellers here, but whether they’re Amazon sellers, whether they’re in any way related to the eCommerce world, we have never had two guests with even remotely close background. And I’m sure that’s not gonna be the case with you. So let’s take us back and let’s hear the Rich Goldstein origin story. Like where did you grow up, what was your major in college? Things like that.
Rich Goldstein: Okay, well I’m from Staten Island, New York and that’s where I grew up. I went to pre engineering high school. And so naturally I went into electrical engineering and into Stony Brook, study engineering. And, while I was studying engineering, I realize that’s the reality of being an engineer would be working on the same project day in and day out, maybe for 5 years at a time, designing one little piece of some other piece of equipment and that just seem to mind numbingly boring to me. So, I again explore what else I could do. I really enjoyed engineering but I didn’t want to get stuck in that type of career raw as I saw it and someone suggested to me patent law. So I finished Electrical Engineering, I went to law school, I went to Brooklyn law school and I became a patent lawyer and now I get to work on something different every day.
Bradley Sutton: Sounds boring to some people. But to me it’s exciting because I think in life a lot of people really want to have a job regardless of what profession it’s in. That’s different. It’s not monotonous, and by definition, the one industry I think in the whole world that by definition cannot be monotonous in the same is probably patent law because the whole concept behind it is like you can only have one thing that has a patent.
Rich Goldstein: We reject things that are in different. The whole criteria for being in doing something in patents is to be different. You have to be different enough to be worthy of a patent. So you don’t spend too much time on things that aren’t different.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, only in the last few years, I was just actually just, you know, like what, 10 minutes ago hearing some of this story about how you got tied into the Amazon world, you’re not an Amazon seller yourself. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about that in a little bit. But how many years were you doing patent law and, and things of that nature before getting connected kind of with the Amazon world?
Rich Goldstein: Yes. Well, let me tell you first that I love marketing for the reasons I’m here is because I really, I’ve always loved business. I’ve always loved marketing. One of the reasons why I was bored in engineering schools because I started a business while I was in college and, and that had me say want to do something more than just, being an engineer. And, so I’ve always been involved in, in business and in marketing. And actually as I was graduating law school, I realized that I didn’t want to work at a big firm. Like everyone else gets stuck in a job working at a big firm, 80, 90 hours a week. And so I decided that I wasn’t going to work for anyone. I was gonna start my own firm. So I started my own firm right as I graduated law school, which is relatively unheard of, I mean, typically when people end up in their own firms, it’s because they worked somewhere else for a while and eventually they leave some clients and then they start their own practice and may be growing from there. So for me, starting my own practice as I was graduating law school, I said, well, how am I going to get business? Well, what I did was I actually started a magazine for inventors and I advertise in the magazine. So you could say I was doing content marketing in the 90’s print. Well before the internet really had taken hold. I was –I had this magazine that what’s going out to people that we’re interested in. I’m in inventing and, and patenting something and, and I was right there as the source of the information and that is what I used to grow my practice. So I always love marketing and I was getting ready to launch my book a few years ago. So the American bar association asked me to write a book to explain to entrepreneurs how patents work. I wrote the ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent, getting ready to launch the book. And I wanted to just get my marketing chops up to speed, see what people were doing these days. I went to Tracking and Conversion. And, when I was there, I realized that I wanted to be surrounded by people that were heavily involved in marketing. So I joined their mastermind, which is known as War Room and War Room is a Master Mind of seven to nine figure marketers. And, and once I joined War Room, I was surrounded by lots of marketers and I realized that all the people there and needed help with patents and trademarks. So I joined because they love marketing, but I realized I was surrounded by people that needed my help. And then in particular, I got invited by a few different people to do things related to eCommerce, go to different masterminds and go to different events. And I realized that in eCommerce it was even more acute in the sense that people in eCommerce really needed patent help regards to the products they were selling. So that’s kind of my path of being here is I’ve gotten heavily involved in eCommerce and in the Amazon space in recent years. Because my love for marketing and because I realized that and within marketing, eCommerce is the place to be.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So what, before you started getting in this whole kind of, I guess, universe that, that Amazon sellers know about, did you have a specific kind of client you were doing, like a certain kind of industry that you were in before you got involved with the eCommerce world?
Rich Goldstein: I’ve always worked with entrepreneurs my entire career. I mean kind of by necessity in the beginning. So if you’re someone who just comes out of law school and you’re looking to get clients, you’re not going to get a AT&T or some AGM companies as clients, it’s going to be smaller entrepreneur, startups and things of that nature. So basically through my whole career it’s been startups. And actually even at a certain point I realized when I had the opportunity to work with bigger companies, I realized I didn’t want to, I much prefer working with smaller companies and entrepreneurs. So that’s kind of how I, how I ended up working with that type of client. And among the years, mostly what I’ve worked on are all consumer products software. And I’ve done a patent on just about any type of product you could think of if you look around the room. Almost anything we could point to, I’ve worked on, on a product related to that. I’ve gotten over 2000 patents at this point.
Bradley Sutton: Oh real quick. Just, just came to my mind of those 2000 that you worked on, tell us something that like, that sticks out in your mind as like one of the craziest and it needs to be a this is a PG event, so I’m not sure if you work on any really crazy things out there, but what is some of the craziest, well those 2000 products that sticks out in your mind.
Rich Goldstein: Okay. Well first of all, I have worked in many non PG products before.
Bradley Sutton: I imagine that to be the case, which is why I preface that.
Rich Goldstein: Yes. Okay. So, so maybe the kind of craziest from a scratch your head point of view was, someone came to me years ago to patent a new method of tying shoelaces, which I actually, I was able to do. I was able to patent this new method of tying shoelaces so that they don’t come on tide.
Bradley Sutton: Oh hold on, hold on. A method? It can be patent?
Rich Goldstein: Methods can be patented. Yes.
Bradley Sutton: I didn’t even know that. That’s shocking.
Rich Goldstein: Yeah. Well actually because methods can, can be patent is the reason why software is patentable. So traditionally one of the categories for patents has been a process. And the most traditional form of that would be you’ve got a new process for refining steel where there’s nothing different about the end product, but we’ve got a more efficient way of doing it. And maybe we heat the metal to a certain temperature and then we add a certain additive and then we cool it. And whatever that process is, whatever those that series of steps was, that’s what was patented. And then over the years, and actually only within the last couple of decades, they extended that to allow software to be patented. It was for a very long time, you weren’t able to patent software. And then at a certain point, the, the, the courts relented and said, well, okay process that a software product goes through or the, the method that software follows, isn’t that different than like a method of manufacturing? So why not? So yes, a method or a process can be patented.
Bradley Sutton: All right, that’s interesting. So do you use that technique to tie your own shoes or would that be against, would that be breaking the patent right there?
Rich Goldstein: Oh, well I don’t even remember the details of it. I mean, we can look it up for fun and, and, and see what it’s all about. But basically, I guess the thing that sticks out in my mind about that is that, okay, great. So we’ve patented this method of tying shoes. How do you monetize that?
Bradley Sutton: Exactly. I mean, as that’s gonna be the, I mean this thing is not cheap, so you’ve got to kind of usually. Unless you’re just some eccentric millionaire or something and just want to patent stuff, you’ve got to have an end game in mind. What was that guys? End game with that.
Rich Goldstein: I never figured out what the end game was, but in any case, it was one of those that sticks out in my mind. And yes, people do often patent things because they just want to have a patent of vanity sake. And there’s lots of reasons people seek patents. A lot of times though, in eCommerce, it’s got to be a much more pragmatic reason. There’s got to be some really solid value to the business because one of the things that I realized about eCommerce entrepreneurs and Amazon entrepreneurs is that you’re operating on tight margins. And so generally the successful ones, the successful entrepreneurs are very cost conscious and they are aware that anything that the spending money on and impact the product failure or success, and therefore if you’re going to spend money on the patent, it’s got to be one that actually is going to help your business. And that’s not always the case. And that’s really the sweet spot for me is I like to help entrepreneurs figure out whether this is a worthwhile project.
Bradley Sutton: Well, let’s talk about that for a second. Now. First of all, of course I’m sure it’s burning for anybody who has never gotten a patent out there. The most logical question is, well, what is the typical price for this whole process to get a patent? So, people have an idea about how, how much it cost for a trademark, which is different. But you know, you know what, hold on, let’s take two steps back. Please tell us the difference between a trademark and a patent and then please answer that question about what the typical patent process would cost them.
Rich Goldstein: Got it. Okay, so first of all, uh, people often confuse trademarks and patents and copyrights even. And so you hear people saying things like, Hey, that’s a great, great idea for a product. You should copyright that, or that’s a really cool name. You should patent that. And those type of statements just reflect the mismatch of the type of thing and the type of protection. So patents, when you think patents think products, they’re going to protect the product idea, that’s what a patent is for. When it comes to a brand or a slogan or a logo that’s a trademark. So trademarks are used to protect the things that people use to identify products in the marketplace. So you see the name Coca-Cola, you see that wavy line that’s typically on Coca-Cola cans. Even you see a can with that red and white color scheme. You think Coca-Cola. So those are all trademarks of Coca-Cola. Patents on the other hand are used to protect a product and two main types of patents. Utility patent is when there are functional differences and design patent when it’s more about just the shape or the ornamental appearance of the product. And with regards to the course then, so, design patents are relatively inexpensive, probably a few thousand dollars to do design patent. Utility patent, usually worth of $10,000. So the utility patents have more, complicated to put together. The more expensive, they tend to be, more difficult to get. And here’s one thing that I think would be, you have great used to your audience, is the logic of which patent to go for. Whether utility or design is often the reverse when you’re selling on Amazon. So conventional logic is that utility patents are more valuable, cause utility patents protect the functionality. They protect concept of what makes it different, where design patents just protect and appearance. And so over the years people would often say, don’t bother with design patents because it just protects the way it looks. And if you change the way it looks, then the not going to infringe. But couple of realities on Amazon. Number one is people, don’t tend to use imagination when the copying your product, they don’t say, yeah, that’s a really cool product. Let me, maybe I’ll, I think my own interpretation of it, they just unimaginatively knock it off and it’s going to look the same. So chances are if you get a design patent and someone else knocks off your product, it’s going to look just like your design patent. Second is the way that patents are interpreted. So utility patents are interpreted by words by definition of what the invention is. Design patents are interpreted by looking at the pictures and saying, well, does it look substantially similar? So now fast forward to a situation where you have a design patent and you see another seller with a listing that looks just like yours. Imagine that you, went to do an IP complaint to Amazon and with your utility patent, basically they’re going to have to interpret the words of your patent to figure out if the competing listing fits the definition of your invention, which is a relatively complex thing for Amazon to do. And, and, I mean, you could only imagine the level of employees they’re actually working on, on handling these IP complaints. But if on the other hand, you make an IP complaint with a design patent and they just have to look at the pictures and they look at your picture and they look at the listing and it looks the same, they say, shut them down. So it’s very easy to get a listing shutdown on Amazon with a design patent. In fact, many of your audience have probably experienced that listings get shut down unfairly a lot because of design patents that maybe aren’t even that close. So it seems that Amazon has been deferring to IP owners, particular IP owners of design pads. So I think it pays to be the IP owner pays to be the one holding the design patent.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So that’s interesting. So like for the design patents then like, Amazon obviously has their own standards and it sounds like they’re not very advanced as far as that goes, but from a legal standpoint, is there a like a percentage different it can be, are like what’s the standard from a legal standpoint off of Amazon where if you have a design patent, like if I have a fidget spinner, but it’s like 50% of it looks completely different, like it’s got way longer arms or whatever, like what’s the legal basis for where they draw the line as if you’re infringing or not?
Rich Goldstein: Well, okay. It doesn’t go by a percentage because it’s really impossible to, to say what actually 50% different is like I look at two, two bottles next to each other, Poland spring and an Arrowhead bottle. And I say, well, how different are they? Is that 10% or 20%? You couldn’t put a number on it, right? So, but now in terms of infringement, the standard for infringement of design patents is whether it has a substantially similar appearance to an ordinary observer. Oh, that’s the standard. Which doesn’t help very much. Right? And usually that’s put to a jury of what it, whether it has a substantially similar appearance. But then there is one additional complications of that, one additional caveat to it, which is that it’s always subject to whatever existed before, existed before that patent. So it’s like, okay, someone’s comparing you a chair, to their design patent or a chair, and they’re saying, well, look, substantially similar. But then you might say, well yeah it does look substantially similar because they both have four legs, but well before yours chairs had four legs. So yes, it’s about what’s similar. But it’s always a matter of looking to the prior art what existed before. So a lot of times, and I deal with this when I’m dealing with a listing shutdown and someone got shut down unfairly, is I’m not trying to argue about the small differences between the two. I’m trying to show that maybe mine looks closer to one that existed 50 years ago and it does to the, to the patent that we’re being accused. So that’s often one of the best arguments to make. And this is.
Bradley Sutton: That’s, so that’s not actually something I wanted to ask you about. You mentioned it about six, seven minutes ago, but a lot of people are victims of the abuse kind of have this system of the reporting and stuff. So what if, what’s the best defense? I mean, obviously if somebody just totally ripped off our product, they had no idea was a patent, Hey, that’s on you buddy. But for the person who is being targeted maybe by the IP owner who’s not even the IP owner, which to I’ve heard about happening or there is a patent, but they’re really making it a stretch that they’re saying this is person fringes. What, what recourse does on Amazon seller have? How can they argue that?
Rich Goldstein: Yes. Well on the best argument to make is one that’s based on what I was kind of alluding to a moment ago. So I think the losing it arguments tend to be, well mine’s a little bit more curved or the base of mine is flat and this one is, a rectangular or something like that. And that doesn’t work very well because Amazon doesn’t like to disturb things when it’s shades of gray. That’s like, wow, it’s a little different in this way or that way. The winning arguments tend to be found in the prior argue. They tend to be found in what existed before and, when I’ve represented people and help them overcome a listing shutdown, it’s always been because we found something from 5 years earlier that just was even closer than anyone thought existed to the patent and basically close enough to show that, okay, we don’t need to say that the patent’s invalid because I don’t think Amazon is going to want a rule on that. But what you do is you play to what the vagueness of it. Well look, I don’t know how, how they’re interpreting how this patent should be interpreted. Well, whatever it’s being interpreted for, it can’t be for that. It can’t be for the thing that existed 5 years ago and mine is just like that. So you find something just like yours that existed well before in the, for the patent, you say, well.
Bradley Sutton: Is there something like a trademark where you can actually see when the patent was instituted so that you can say, Hey, it can’t be about this one 5 years ago because it was only made 2 years ago, or how does that work?
Rich Goldstein: Yes. Well the, on the patent document itself, it says when it was filed and, and anything that existed more than a year before, the patent would either be the reason that the patent should have been rejected or like, you know, like I said, like that the argument that I play into with Amazon with this is like, okay, well let’s assume that they shouldn’t have rejected. Let’s assume that there was some basis for granting this patent. Something different about the design. Whatever reason they granted this patent, it couldn’t have been, it couldn’t have been for this because that existed 5 years earlier. So, that’s been a winning argument that I’ve actually batting a thousand on every time I’ve made that argument, I’ve succeeded.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So there is a way to get through to Amazon, cause I know some people say, Hey, no, Amazon just sends me that letter. Oh Hey, take it up with the, the IP owner and then that’s it. But you got to be persistent.
Rich Goldstein: It’s, and it can be very frustrating because like I’ve put together, well-reasoned argument that really appeals toward the fairness and the truth of the situation. And I get back a response that says in answering an IP complaint, please submit invoices to show that these products were purchased from a legitimate source or whatever. And then we’ll, no, that’s not our point. We’re not trying to say that, we’re saying that, that the patent doesn’t apply to this, not that we should be, I’m buying it from them. So yeah, so sometimes you have to deal with several rounds of that. You get to someone who actually can hear the argument.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So now when somebody gets a patent, obviously it’s enforceable in the United States, but is that pretty much it? Like it’s something happens in China, happens in Europe, whether it’s Amazon, Europe or anywhere in Europe or Africa or South America. It’s wild, wild West Hill for that. Or do other countries actually honor a US patent?
Rich Goldstein: Patents are territorial. So a US patent only counts for the US, Chinese patent only counts for China. And so at the same time, a US patent is to prevent someone from making using or selling the product in the US so they can make in China but they can import it into the US or sell it here. Though a lot of times the reason people say, well maybe I need to get a patent in China. So that they can’t manufacture in China. Well, no actually a US patent would prevent them from, from using or selling the product here. The only reason you’d want to patent in China or say in the European Union is if your actually looking to sell products there or you’re concerned about someone else selling the product there.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Right. That’s good to know. Now, again, last 3 years you have, opened up your business a little bit more to Amazon sellers. So, we talked about the shoelace is obviously not an Amazon seller, but for, from your clients who have sold on Amazon, what’s a case where the, you know, they, they got a patent with you and man, you know, that this really saved their buck because there was this big company who’s gonna try and come after or there’s a bunch of hijacks or something. Can, can you give us an example that, that can maybe inspire somebody to actually think about like, Hey, yeah, Hey, maybe patent is something I should look into.
Rich Goldstein: Yeah, I can’t give specifics on my own clients. And actually I’ll tell a story about a friend of mine who didn’t have happen to get the patent through me, but he relayed the story and I love it of how he put out his product and he filed for design patent and then whole bunch of other competitor came in and started copying his product. And so he waited and he endured this for, I guess about a year until the design patent issued. And the way he describes it, he said on one glorious day, he shut down 40 of his competitors, for selling the same product, with a design patent that cost a few thousand dollars.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. So sometimes I think seller’s getting the wrong mindset. You know, when they think about cost, you know, like I, I know sellers who I’m sure you do too, you go to a lot of events where it’s like, man, if I’m paying seven, 800 bucks for a trademark, that’s like, Oh my God, that’s a lot of money. So then there, there may be listening right now, like for the cheaper patent, it’s a few thousand dollars and he’s saying that’s a small amount. Now what are some cases though? I mean, so obvious is the bottom line is, yeah, it’s not gonna be for everybody. I mean, there’s millions of sellers on Amazon. Some are just, maybe wholesale seller is selling a pack of a hundred pens for $5. Okay. Yeah, they probably don’t need, they, it’s not a good business decision to spend, $4,000 or $5,000 on a patent. So what kind of sellers or what kind of products I guess do you use suggests where it’s like, Hey, this is something you should highly consider doing as a protection?
Rich Goldstein: Well, I mean it’s hard to know what product is going to be successful and what isn’t. And it’s also hard to know what’s going to be copied in and what isn’t going to be copied and then necessary to protect. Well, I would say first of all, if you have a track record of selling products where you, products out that sold 10,000 a month under a thousand a month, then it’s probably worthwhile on something that you have a good hunch on that it’s going to be successful too to get, at least a design patent for. Because, I mean, if you think about the economics of the possible ways it could play out, I mean if you end up selling $100,000 worth of product and a competitor comes in and you can stop them from selling even for one day, it pays for the cost of the, of the patent. I mean it doesn’t take long, obviously if the product isn’t successful then it feels like a whole lot of money. What are the product is successful? I mean there, the difference between having a patent and shutting down your competitors and not having a patent and not having that ability and easily be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I would say, first of all, if you have that track record that you know that you’ve launched, products that have sold well, that you might consider doing design patents and, and it’s hedging. If you do 10 patents and 10 products, 10 design patents, you’re spending say $30,000. Like, what are the chances that that even only one of them is going to save you more than $30,000 worth of loss sales? It’s probably rather likely. Well, that’s one thing, also I would say that one of the ways that you save money on this is by using discernment about what products you pursue and which ones you don’t. So if your –if you think about the notion of every seller on Amazon spending thousands of dollars on, on, on design patents, obviously that wouldn’t be worthwhile. And, and so just making those decisions about which ones to pursue. If you, if your budget is limited and if you are closer to starting out, then it pays to pick the right projects used to pick the thing where you’re going to get meaningful protection. I think one of the biggest traps that people fall into is they go to patent their first product and in the end it’s not worthwhile. And then maybe the second or third product is really something that they should have been patenting, but they feel burned by that first experience with patenting. And that it’s not worthwhile and they don’t bother. So, I think that the best thing you can do is just use discernment and which product you pursue or patent.
Bradley Sutton: All right, so now, sometimes I imagine there are cases where it doesn’t matter the persons lofty goals. It doesn’t matter if it’s a great selling product, it doesn’t matter if they’re multimillionaires and $10,000 is a drop in the bucket. It’s just not something that you can patent, like, you know, paper straws or something. You sound like, Hey, I invented paper straws, I’m going to patent paper straws. So what are the cases where you can’t really do it? Like is that, is that an accurate statement, I just said, I mean like I can’t go in and patent something that’s existed for 10 years, right? Okay. So what are some other cases where you can’t, I mean, even if you want to or not, it’s not something you can patent.
Rich Goldstein: All right, well the easiest way to distill that down is like you can patent what already exists. And so, how your ability to patent something and how valuable the patent you get is always a function of how different it is. Though, that’s really the critical thing there. There are patents that are, are very valuable and there are patents that are really worthless. And the difference between them is whether it protects a concept, or whether it just protects a very specific way of doing it. And we’re talking about utility patents right now, what design patents aside. But the point is you, you invent something, you come up with a product and it’s got some unique features and what you want to make sure is, is the feature that you think really makes it distinct. Is that in itself different from what exists before? If it is, then you can get a patent on that. And that’s great because what you want is a patent that’s going to protect the thing that matters to your customers. The thing that matters to your competition. You want to make it so that your competitors would look at your patent and say, well, if we can make it with that feature and we shouldn’t bother because that’s what all the customers want. So if you’re able to protect that actual thing, that’s great. But a lot of the time when people get utility patents, they’re getting something that’s very specific. This as it turns out that wasn’t all that different and because it wasn’t that different, maybe they were able to get a patent on some real specific details about the product. But who cares about those details because people can still copy what you thought was the cool part of it. They just can’t do it if they do all of the details. So it’s not really stopping the competition from competing with you and therefore that’s a worthless patent. So the thing you always want to do is what actually existed before your product. And in that way you can judge how different it really is and therefore, whether you’re headed toward patent, which would be valuable. And one which would just be, let’s say in name only. Anything like I’ve got a patent but there’s nothing I can really enforce it against. And that happens often.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, good to know. Now speaking of good to know you, you don’t, you don’t Norm Farrar? All right. So I just said he was the last one. Last week I recorded on the podcast and as I was just, I have very bad attention, ADHD and then my mind was wandering and I came up with a segment for the podcast while I was talking to him and I called it. Basically TST, that’s kind of like what my Filipino grandparents, when they wanted to get my attention, they would say stands for 30 seconds tip. So he was the first one to do it and I’m trying to make this a thing. He gave something about launching a product. I don’t remember what it was. I’m gonna ask you to give your “TST”, what 30 seconds tip do you have as it pertains to, Patent law or anything really for our eCommerce and Amazon sellers who are listeners out there?
Rich Goldstein: So, the 30 second tip is that if you are sourcing a product and you’re looking to make a, a competing product and you see a patent number on it, look it up. Just look up the patent because there’s a chance the patent could be expired. And if the patents expired, then it’s fair game. And a lot of people, they see it patent number and they just stop. So always look up the patent. And you can do that on Google patents, which is a great place to look up a patent when you know the patent number or the name of the inventor. And that’s at patents, P A T E N T S .google.com. So you see it when you see a, a patent number on a product and always look it up and get to, to know the landscape of what actually is going on around that product and what they might actually.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome. All right, time’s up. All right, that’s good. One last question. Since you’re from New York, best pizza in the five boroughs. My two are right next door to each other and I just want to get your viewpoint Juliana’s and Grimaldi’s they’re in Brooklyn. What say you?
Rich Goldstein: Yeah. Grimaldi’s is definitely, definitely up there and yeah, it’s, that’s difficult. I’d say the, the, the best pizza in New York doesn’t exist anymore. There’s two places that used to exist on Staten Island where I came from. And, one of them was a place called a Pizza Town and every once in a while, I have a slice of pizza. I’m like, almost tastes like Pizza Town. I could still remember what it tastes like. So, but yes, Grimaldi’s is definitely, well up there and I think they have some places on the, on the West coast now too. I mean, I think they have.
Bradley Sutton: I, haven’t tried it yet because I don’t want to be disappointed, but I think actually in LA or somewhere they might have Grimaldi’s.
Rich Goldstein: Yeah I think in Scottsdale also.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. All right. Now before you go here, I’m sure people have other questions. If they want to reach you, whether they’re, they’re interested in trying to get a patent for one of their products or just maybe ask you some more, some advice or some more or even some more pizza advice, how can they find you or how can they find that, that that book he wrote about patents, where can they go?
Rich Goldstein: All right. First of all, the book is the ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent. And that’s available on Amazon and it’s less than 20 bucks. It’s written in plain English and it’s really great resource. I also have videos online. You go to patentvideos.com. It’s a just a free six video course that explains how patents work and there’s no upsell. It’s just an opportunity to learn. And, if you want to see if we can help you with a particular project and contact my team and you can go to Goldsteinpatentlaw.com and or email my assistant. Phyllis, which is welcome@Goldsteinpc.com.
Bradley Sutton: All right. Well, thank you very much, rich for joining us here. I look forward to going to a club where I do not try to eat. You’re very generous earplugs next time, so we’ll definitely have to actually where, what we’re going to an event this Sunday in San Diego, so you maybe you should bring some ear plugs just for old time’s sake, at the, at the event.
Rich Goldstein: Sounds good. Thanks so much.
Bradley Sutton: See you later.
Bradley Sutton: Quick note guys. Don’t forget that regardless where you are listening to this podcast, whether it’s on your iPhone or on Stitcher, on Spotify, that you hit the subscribe button so that you can be notified every time we drop a new episode.
- #289 – PPC Talk: Amazon Advertising & Adtomic Updates - October 16, 2021
- #288 – Amazon Posts 101 - October 12, 2021
- #287 – Bookkeeping And Accounting Tips For Amazon Sellers - October 9, 2021