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Secrets from an Inventor's Notebook
Maurice Kanbar

Secrets from an Inventor's Notebook book cover picture

This is one great book of examples of how Maurice has gotten product after product to market and put millions in his bank account. The examples range from a sweater de-fuzzer to a 4 screen cinema and provide some insights into how he decides what to build his own company around and what to license to others. It also walks you through some failures where he didn't faithfully follow his own 5 steps:

	1.  Solve a Problem (that isn't already solved!)
2. Prove Your Invention/Build a Prototype
3. Protect Your Idea
4. Manufacture or License?
5. Market with a Twist

And often the problem occurred in steps 1 or 2 where he failed to pay attention to his eleventh commandment "Thou Shalt Not Bullshit Thyself." He notes that if you've either over-committed your own ego or money to an idea you are all too likely to ignore the "Eleventh Commandment."

The chapters in the book follow the 5 steps and each includes real examples of taking an invention through the process. Explained are how you can do your own low-cost market research without disclosing your idea, why the phrase "the customer is always right" is not an unfounded truism, and why the fear of having your idea stolen does not outweigh the need to test your product out on people. And that's just in the market evaluation part of the step 2 chapter!

The pros and cons of patenting are, of course, explored with full encouragement to get a patent and do it right whenever possible. Doing it right is far more involved than just writing up and filing an application. In fact good considerations are discussed whenever he talks about making good use of the intellectual property laws -- unfortunately he has a couple of his own very minor misunderstandings of the law (see below). Fortunately none of his misunderstandings will get him into trouble because he has (perhaps instinctively) made sure that his understanding of a legal concept is actually more restrictive than the law actually is. (Too often inventors, in their imagination, grant themselves more powerful rights in law than is actually the case, e.g. a patent protects an idea [see Myths]).

The bottom line is you should read this book for the real life examples from a guy that did it himself -- and continues to do so -- successfully.

Errata in "Secrets":
Pg. 80 Trademark is covered but isn't touched till page 136.
Pg. 90 the mythical "provisional patent" is pushed rather than the real - but limited - Provisional Application for Patent. [see Errata]
Pg. 136 incorrectly states that common words cannot be used as trademarks - they can be but they must comply with more rules than totally made-up words.
Pg. 173 has been superceded by
Pg. 178 Wal-Mart Innovation Network (WIN) is now World Innovation Network at (note the corrected second "i" rather than a "1")

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