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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

JD: Let’s bring on our next guest, Dr. Rolf Biernath. Dr. Biernath has been waiting for a while. Thank you for waiting, Dr. Biernath. Welcome to the show.

Dr. Biernath: Hello, good to talk to you guys.

Matt: Hi,

JD: thank you. Hopefully, you’ve been able to hear what we’ve been chatting about so far.

Dr. Biernath: Yeah, I sure have. And actually, your third question, which you said was a softball for you, is actually a softball for me too.

JD: Okay, good! Love it. So, tell us a bit about what you do at Beth Consulting.

Dr. Biernath: Basically, it all started with me growing up in a family business. I tinkered with things, took them apart, and never put them back together again. My dad put up with that, but I learned a lot from him. He imported tools for the woodworking industry and brought many innovations to market. One of those was Makita. From him, I learned the value of innovation to grow small businesses because his investments in new products and innovations really paid off. It was an amazing way to grow up, though I didn’t appreciate it as much at the time.

Dr. Biernath: Fast forward a bit, I’m now retired from 3M. I got my PhD and became a chemical engineer with 35 years of experience and 57 patents. I like to envision new products and help make them real and practical. I’ve done that throughout my career and now as a consultant. I help clients protect their innovations with intellectual property, which is crucial. The role you play with patents and trademarks can’t be emphasized enough because it’s the only way to protect value. People copy things so quickly nowadays.

Dr. Biernath: Currently, I bring AI, IoT, and other emerging technologies into existing products in the marketplace and help business owners incorporate them.

Matt: Are you up here in Minnesota?

Dr. Biernath: Yes, I am.

Matt: Me too.

Dr. Biernath: Gotcha. The storms just came through, didn’t they?

JD: Yes, they did.

JD: So, you do consulting work. You help inventors, entrepreneurs, and business owners with this kind of stuff?

Dr. Biernath: Sure do. I help people with a lot of ideas sort through them to pick out which ones to move forward on. There are two types of people: those with lots of ideas who can’t figure out which to execute on, and those with a product or service who don’t know how to bring new technology into it. I like working with both types, especially helping them add new features to their products.

JD: That’s fascinating.

Dr. Biernath: And that leads to some business because you get to help them execute it and coach them on getting trademarks and filing patents.

Dr. Biernath: Exactly. I don’t give them the coaching on how to do that; I tell them to work with an attorney like you guys. It’s crucial to protect their innovations.

JD: With 57 patents of your own, you’re not just talking lip service. If you don’t mind, I’d love to put you on the spot. We’ve got someone right here, Michael Molinsky, who has an idea.

Matt: Let’s say hypothetically, he needs to put 3M reflective tape on something.

JD: How would you advise him?

Dr. Biernath: One of the first things I’d talk about is making sure he has NDAs in place with anyone he’s talking to, including me.

Dr. Biernath: If he’s giving me his brand new idea that’s still in the process of some genesis, I might end up becoming a co-inventor by US law if I help him figure out a step he couldn’t on his own.

JD: Millions of people are watching today; no need for an NDA, just kidding!

Dr. Biernath: But seriously, that would be important if it was a new idea. I’d explore with him what options he’s considered and start there. Is he trying to hone in on his solution, or is he still generating the idea?

Michael Molinsky: Well, I’m guilty of being that idea guy. I’ve had so many ideas. The whole reason I got this one off the ground is because I made a New Year’s resolution to finally do it. My wife was tired of hearing all my ideas and told me to finally act on one. So I did. My struggle is putting my energy into this one thing and not getting distracted. I haven’t set up NDAs; I’m in a small town where trust and a handshake are common. But I know that doesn’t go far in court. I’m targeting young swimmers because accidental drowning is the number one cause of death for children under five and the second for kids six to ten. Every day that goes by without getting this out there breaks my heart because the stats are heartbreaking.

JD: That’s an important mission. Hopefully, we can provide some additional platform and publicity here today. Dr. Biernath, what are some big nuggets you try to pass along to clients in the stage of finding their market and improving their product?

Dr. Biernath: Besides suggesting they give me a call or spend time on my website, one of the best things to do is search on Google Patents or other free patent databases. Just throw in your keywords and see what comes up. The patent office has a weird way of defining terms, so sometimes even a regular Google search can help. Make sure your idea isn’t already out there. If it is, move on and find the next one. Problem solvers always have more ideas.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/