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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

but here today we have an opportunity to go in-house at bold because hey I’ve run this show why not um and I wanted to set it up so we have the chance to get to know you Michael usually behind the scenes working with inventors some most of them first-time inventors some have been at it for a while and you do the initial consults with them um and uh you’ve been doing that now for us for quite a while I’d love to kind of start with you Michael if you don’t mind um and now you can jump in a bit but we’ll kind of interview Michael um why don’t you give us your your background give us a story on how you got started with the law and um and how you found bold okay so uh I started out my college career uh getting an electrical engineering degree graduated with that in 1991. um one of my well my job my last job right before law school was working at the Knoxville Tennessee Police Department I was doing their computers and I kind of got interested in the law through hanging out with cops all day long thought that I joined the reserve unit I was a reserve police officer for about 18 months we worked at the UT football team I did not know that Michael that’s super cool man yeah I had my own corner where I directed traffic after all the University of Tennessee football games for everybody yeah you did

um that’s a law school well so I thought I wanted to do criminal law um it took doing one criminal Clinic until I realized I did not ever want to do that and then uh my dad had worked in the patent field he’s a patent agent he has PhD in in double e and so he’s like you should you already have the technical degree you should look into patents so uh switched over to that uh actually took in past the patent bar while I was still in law school so I kind of had that out of the way then I graduated in 2000 been doing patent prosecution kind of in one way or another ever since then so love it for some of those maybe out there attorneys don’t know what patent prosecution is what’s the difference does that mean you’re in court out of court that actually means I’m not in court and never have to go to court right yeah it just means it’s just basically driving the process at the patent office uh for for a patent application with the patent Examiner cool cool you mind Sharon um you know uh whether what kind of firms you’ve been with over the years and how you ended up finding bold yeah yeah so I started out at a medium-sized intellectual property I guess you would say Boutique I don’t know what size makes it not a boutique but we at the time it was about 45 attorneys and we had some you know pretty large clients uh large software companies that I did a lot of work for starting out as an associate that’s what I kind of cut my teeth on uh went through the whole Law Firm thing from associate to partner was there for a total of 12 Years left there in 2012 and I had my own firm uh just a solo firm just me from about 2012 to 2018. uh was in-house for a little bit of a stint with the startup that didn’t do it as inside time turning essentially uh a company had some Financial issues you know unrelated to patents went down you know essentially went away and it’s in the Incarnation it was in and then uh after that that’s you know I was I was looking around and that’s how I found bold and I’ve been with bold for yeah it was two years in May so two almost two and a half years yeah awesome and um and you you’ve kind of found a sweet spot you know um where it’s like hey you don’t necessarily want to be grinding away you know in your 20 of doing this doing patent work necessarily you’re doing consultations so what does that entail maybe for someone who’s not familiar with that what does that mean and how is that um how are you able to to speak with clients right well I think it’s one of the it’s one of the more unusual things about bold and actually the reason that I was drawn to the position was I get on the phone or or the video call with a prospective inventor most of which you’ve never been through the process before yeah um might be a little bit nervous uh in you know we sit down I have them tend to tell me about their invention uh I’ll run them through the patent process which usually is pretty detailed because most of them have not had any experience before uh but we’ll go through the different types of patent applications what’s the content of a patent application how’s the patent application get created up through filing and then I think the more interesting thing for some of them is what happens at the patent office well that’s that you know there’s some resources out there on how to draft your own patent application I think right more than how do you deal with a patent examiner at the patent office that’s really a you know there’s a there’s a pretty big curtain across that so I’ll try to pull that back for him as well and just talk them talk them through that and what they’re looking at you know realistic what are you looking at end to end time wise you know what kind of financial resources are you gonna have to devote to this and just try to try to really educate them and make them feel comfortable so when they make a decision they feel like they’re informed I love it what would you say like you know the top reasons that they’re worried like what what are they coming in like scared about or wanting to know the most uh a lot of people have you know the financial considerations are a big a big deal for a lot of people I think it’s just a huge unknown quantity right I mean it even if it goes smooth you’re you’re looking at let’s say two two and a half years in most cases to work something through the patent office and it’s a big investment and then they want to know I think to is whoever they’re talking to which is me to start out or whoever at bold you know is that person going to be there with them through the process they’re like is are we going to write this patent application I’m never going to hear from this person again and I know that’s a concern for a lot of people because I often talk to people that have started out somewhere else and have gotten you know pricing information that’s actually pretty unrealistic to do patent applications they’ve gotten you know felt like other attorneys have dropped the ball on them and so we’ve got to kind of work through some of those things too sometimes right right what would you say to someone who’s you know who’s got an invention maybe they’re kind of thinking about doing on their own or hiring a firm and they’re kind of you know hesitating on whether to have a consultation they’re worried about confidentiality what would you say to someone like that uh I confidentiality I tried to tell everyone is not a concern uh Most states Bar associations have ethical rules that we have to comply with as attorneys which apply to prospective clients as well um and if we don’t uphold those ethical rules I mean they can follow bar complaint up to you know potentially getting disbarred I think all of us like our jobs and you know we don’t want that to happen uh so there’s there’s some concerns there was that what was the other part of the question oh just you know people that are out there that have inventions and they’re they’re wondering you know or not you know I think I think if you’ve never done it before affirm’s definitely the way to go um because I and I’m going to say this from experience because doing these consults and I do somewhere between I don’t know 12 to 20 of them a week so I have a wide variety of people that I talk to people that are just starting out people that have not talked to any attorneys yet to people that are trying out other firms to people that try to draft their own provisional or their own non-provisional now they’re in a little bit of a jam they’ve got if they’ve done a non-provisional they’re getting a rejection they don’t know what to do uh and so you know then we come in and have to try to figure that out and one thing I will say a lot of times it can be more expensive to fix what’s going wrong than if you had started out on a you know on a good path to start with yeah um and so and then the other thing I will say there too there is there’s a variety of quality law firms bold being one of them that I think are reasonably but realistically priced um to help to help out small and solo inventors uh if a deal seems too good to be true with respect to the cost for patent drafting it oftentimes is and I you know and I’ve seen that in my experience with talking to so many people 11. last question here um if I want to invest my time and money you know speaking with you on a consultation what am I going to come out of that with what answers well I’m like what am I going to take away uh you’re gonna get an indication if you’re doing it with me you’re going to get an indication if I in my professional opinion your invention is detailed enough to potentially move to the next stage which often is going to be a patentability search um and if it’s not we can talk about that how can you detail some of those things out um and then you’re going to get a really really good education on the end-to-end process from patent drafting how’s the patent application get created what are the different types of patent applications between design and utility and then provisional and non-provisional within the utility space what’s going to happen to you most likely at the patent office of the patent examiner uh it even as detailed as what does a patent examiner doing you know what are what are the requirements they’re looking at um in a set of claims to see if they meet all the requirements to turn into a patent that’s really what people want to know and I feel like if I get off when they’re they’re educated and it comes around hey do I want to do this or not they’re making a decision based on the facts that are gonna they’re gonna be looking at on how to go forward awesome thank you Michael

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