At Camp Inc., I have had the pleasure of working with very smart, motivated and creative kids who are developing great ideas and business ventures. Recently an issue arose regarding intellectual property (IP as we call it in the business world).
A group of campers that I am working with are developing an idea which is a new take on an existing product, in a market potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The concept appears so simple and so relevant that you end up asking yourself, “why has no one done this before?”
As part of the due diligence required for any new product the campers undertook a patent search to determine if there was any possible infringements or conflicts regarding existing IP. The results of this search uncovered a possible conflict with a patent originating from one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world.
Hopes were dashed and morale was low. It looked like this great idea was dead in the water. I encouraged the group to stick with their idea and seek more advice on this IP issue while continuing to develop their product.
My previous business experience with startups had revolved around service based industries, so how easy would it be to find the expertise this group needed? I wasn’t quite sure, but I knew it was worth a shot.
Out of simple good fortune I learned that we had an experienced IP lawyer visiting that afternoon as a guest of Camp Inc. Such is the nature of Camp Inc. that we have incredibly talented and experienced business people dropping by all the time; that was good timing!
Within two hours of becoming aware of our problem we had an expert on site. patent law was not his specific area of expertise however he was able to review the existing patent, give the group a good overview of the situation and provide some possible avenues to move forward. A great first step, I thought “we are not dead in the water just yet”.
Next the group was able to tap the resources of Camp Inc. Director, Josh Pierce. This resulted in a conference call with a prior Camp Inc. mentor who had successful dealt with similar issues when launching a startup of his own. His first hand knowledge of dealing with the complexities of patent law and the implications for the success or otherwise of a new venture were invaluable to the group.
While the campers felt more confident moving forward with their business idea there was still an air of doubt as to whether all their hard work would be in vain. After all, this was a group of teenagers going up against a big multinational. It was time to pull out the big guns.
With a little Camp Inc. camper networking the group was able to secure the services of an expert patent lawyer who was willing to donate his time to the issue. Via a telephone conference call the group was able to work through the complexities of a possible patent infringement and come up with options and workarounds to overcome any obstacles.
Sure there is some risk, as there is in any new venture, but the group finished up the call in high spirits. They were confident about moving forward with their idea and ready to develop, patent, license and sell to the world their product.
Such is the incredible dynamic and intangible benefits of working in a highly networked environment such as Camp Inc. Where almost any problem can be tackled with expert advice from Camp Inc. business specialists, mentors, friends and those willing to help out, not in weeks or months but in minutes, hours and days.
Camp Inc…patent pending.