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Aglow with innovations

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Attorney Jacques Dulin loves helping people brighten their visions.

Since moving to Sequim in July 2002, he has received 575 phone calls related to developing intellectual properties.

"I find that there are a lot of smart people here and they are a joy to work with," Dulin said.

Creative folks visit Dulin's business, Innovation Law Group Ltd., 237 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim, mostly for patents followed by trademarks and copyrights.

Dulin handles 50-60 active patents of the nearly 400,000 patents filed annually.

"A patent is a business tool, but it's only one of many. People, machines, etc., make up so much more.

"To develop a company, you can't do it with just an idea, you need a team."



Patented reward

Dulin calls the patent process the "best, pure incentive system program in the U.S.

"It encourages people to bring new solutions and make new jobs for people."

With hundreds of thousands of ideas floating in limbo, developing an idea can take up to a few years for final approval.

Dulin compares the patent idea to parenting.

"You are pregnant with the idea and I'm the midwife because I help them carry the idea.

"You aren't done yet, though. You've got to be in it for the long haul."

Developing the concept is like a farm too, he says.

The seed is the idea; soil, the marketplace; fertilizer, the capital investment.

Inventors are the farmers with their sweat and hard work; legal protection provides the fencing; the competitive climate is the weather.



Nutshell definitions

The concepts of patents, copyrights and trademarks often are confused, Dulin said.

Patents relate to whomever comes up with an idea first. If two people create the same invention at the same time, ownership to that idea goes to the person who first files patent applications.

Copyright protects works of literature, drama, music, art and other intellectual properties.

Trademarks relate to the identities of businesses through specific names and phrases related to them.

The trademark can become synonymous with the product, but this can be a mixed blessing.

Brands such as 3M's Scotch Tape and Band-Aid have become the reference name for all forms of adhesive tape and bandages.

Patents don't come cheaply.

Forty years ago, a patent application cost $65, but now it

takes more than $6,500 to complete all applications, not

including development.



The long road

"Every patent is a master's thesis," Dulin said.

The final application includes diagrams with multiple angles and the background of the idea with the invention's advantages and uses.

"You don't have to be an Einstein to make a patent (just) good analytical skills using microscopic abilities to look into a problem and solution of your idea."

Funding for the product can be tough for some, so provisionals exist - patent pendings - that reserve the idea in your name, giving you one year to finish the application and talk to backers and manufacturers.



Examples of patents

Dulin has helped thousands of people in his life work on patents. In Washington, he recently helped individuals patent a dog aromatherapy delivery system, a bending apparatus for piping and a sleeping aid to prevent snoring.

He has 20 of his own ideas patented, too.

"We cover a little bit of everything here."

One inventor, "Mike," developed the Sweet Swing Trainer, a golfing lesson device.

Initially, Mike guessed it would cost him about $100 to make and he'd sell it for $300. Dulin felt Mike underestimated his costs, so he re-evaluted the device.

A few months later, Mike returned and said it would cost about $300 to make and be sold for $1,000.



Think outside the box

The high cost was an obvious deterent, so Dulin suggested leasing the device to golf courses instead of selling it.

Projected income for the device has Mike making more in one week's leasing than selling for a year.

"I don't see a patent as an end," Dullin said. "A lot of the times I have to focus the inventor."

Dulin encourages people to think realistically when developing an idea. He learned this when helping "Don" develop a flat-top milk carton in the late 1960s.

Don designed the milk carton with less material than traditional milk cartons and made it stackable for storage and shipment.

They tried licensing the product but didn't get far.

A processing plant had just purchased a $500,000 machine for ordinary cartons. If he were to go through with the design, Don would need to invent a machine to manufacture it too.



Innovators create jobs

Dulin prefers original ideas and trademarks, but one of his favorite sayings from a bumper sticker reads, "Innovators create jobs in America."

"That's what we do every day here," he said, "think about the future."

Dulin can be reached at 681-7305 or by visiting www.innovationlaw.com. Innovation Law Group, Ltd., is at 237 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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