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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

JD: We have our next inventor, Jim Gurule. Jim, welcome to the show!

Jim: Oh, well, thank you for having me.

JD: How are you doing today?

Jim: Hey, Matt, I’m doing well. I just want to start off by thanking both of you for what you do. Somehow, JD and I connected, and I’ve been listening to your stuff. I wish I had this 20 years ago. I really value what you’re putting out; it’s so helpful to inventors, potential inventors, and anyone interested in the field. So, thank you for having me today.

JD: You bet! I’m hoping that we can reach a wider audience. We have a few live listeners now, but maybe if we get to episode 300, we’ll really break out.

Jim: Oh yeah, definitely.

JD: For those listening now or later, there’s a lot of benefit to hearing from fellow inventors. I’ve been at this for a while, and now I’m somewhat of a domain expert.

JD: What domain is that, good sir?

Jim: Everything I’ve been doing my entire career is related to kitchen cabinets and kitchen renovation. Even my patent work has always been related to the kitchen cabinet industry. At this stage in my career, I’m still inventing, but it’s all about solving bigger problems within our industry.

JD: Very good. Well, I think we should showcase some of your work in the patent world. This one here is an early one, right? It’s now expired?

Jim: Yeah, this is my first patent. It expired a few years ago. It’s a two-way dual-action clamp.

JD: This is pretty cool. I still get excited about seeing the line drawings. Even though the patent expired, I’m working on a new and improved version of it. That one still sells about 5,000 units a month.

Matt: Wow!

Jim: And I take it as a compliment, but there are at least five knockoffs on Amazon. The two largest brands in the clamp world, Bessey and Jorgensen Pony, still use that exact patent to manufacture and sell through major retailers like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Amazon. It remains number one in its category and sells about 5,000 units a month.

Matt: Congratulations, that’s impressive!

Jim: Thank you. As an inventor, it might sound corny, but knowing that you’re bringing something into the world that didn’t exist before is incredibly rewarding. It becomes a passion—or a curse—depending on how you look at it, due to the creativity and adversity involved. You fail a lot more than you succeed, and like any other field, you only see the successes, not the countless failures.

Matt: Absolutely.

JD: Many of our clients do great work and get excellent patents, but making money from them doesn’t always happen. You’ve found a way to do that. We’d love to learn what it took to reach that volume. Can you share some insights?

Jim: Sure, I’ll give a brief background. The first patent I received wasn’t approached as an inventor; I was a cabinet maker. I took wood shop in high school, wasn’t a great student, and later found out I had dyslexia. It turns out, dyslexia allows the brain to see things in three dimensions and conceptualize better than the average person. After high school, I became a cabinet maker, then moved to installing cabinets. I was frustrated with using three different clamps to attach cabinets together, so I combined them and added a drill guide, which became my patent.

Jim: I was able to license it because I understood the market. At the time, I was a sales rep, and I knew how many cabinets were being made. I met with the CEO of the largest clamp maker in the country, Adjusta-Pony Clamp in Chicago. I presented my idea not just as a great concept but as a market opportunity. It took about a year to get that licensing deal, and they took it through the patent process. I didn’t have a patent at that time; I had an idea.

Matt: Wow, you’re lucky they were honest with you.

Jim: Yes, they believed in me and my numbers. The fact that I was a cabinet maker solving an industry problem was important. That patent did well, but bringing a second one to market was frustrating. There were three losers and one winner, with a lot of money spent and a broken ego.

Jim: The company eventually went out of business, and China bought the brand, including my patent. I had to spend a lot of money to get my patent back. Now, I’ve relicensed it and hope my second patent, a utility clamp, will do even better.

JD: You’re persistent.

Matt: What I’m catching is that your niche knowledge of cabinet building helped you see an opportunity. You built a market for your product by convincing the CEO there was one.

Jim: Exactly. Creating your own category isn’t easy. It involves convincing people to see something that doesn’t exist yet. It’s frustrating but rewarding when it works out. My second patent is solving a bigger problem, and that’s key—solving big problems. Get a good attorney and start the patent process. That’s how you create something valuable.

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/