Are you looking to secure your intellectual property?
Devin Miller is the founder, CEO, and managing partner of Miller IP Law.
Miller IP Law is a patent and trademark firm, dealing with the legality of patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
Devin and his team provide startup companies and small businesses excellent service that allows them to protect their intellectual property.
Learn more about how Miller IP Law can protect your company by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest-growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go. Right with us. Right now. We've got Devin Miller. Devin, you are the Founder and Managing Partner of Miller IP Law. Thanks so much for joining us.
Oh, my pleasure, always good to get to chat and good to catch up. So happy to be here.
So obviously Devin, one thing we're going to be talking about is going to be patents, trademarks and copyrights, which I would imagine you talk about this quite a bit in your day to day schedule.
Yeah. Yeah, so we help a lot of startups and small businesses. So talk with them on a daily and pretty frequent basis.
Yeah. How did you get white? Why did you decide this- this area of law?
That's a simple question to a longer answer. I mean, I'll give you the short answer. I was did undergraduate in electrical engineering is along with it Chinese, but primarily focused on electrical engineering and kind of got to the end of that undergraduate degree. And it was going through kind of say, Well, I like I like engineering, but I don't know that I want to be an engineer kind of a thing. So I like to, I like to kind of keep a higher level jump from a lot of different projects kind of keep things more interesting as opposed to kind of stay on the same project for months or years or for a long period of time. So I had an uncle that was also in patent law, he was a patent attorney. So kind of its kind of deciding, hey, how do I want to do engineering and how, you know, how do I want to fit this in with my career path and After reflecting back on conversations I've had with him kinda excited, hey, well, if I go into patent law, I can still keep a lot of the engineering perspective work with startups and businesses and technologies, while also kind of being able to keep it higher level and keep it more on and switch between multiple projects. Yeah.
So your career path out of school, you, you were worked for several law firms, and then eventually made the switch to start your own. Talk about that, like it was, you know, what was that experience in working with other law firms and then kind of deciding, you know what, I'm going to pitch my own town here.
Yeah, it's always a exciting and scary time. Would you decide to pitch your own Ted? I enjoy. You know, I worked for a couple law firms prior to this. I also have, as I mentioned a little bit I did an MBA as well. So I enjoyed kind of the entrepreneur. Kind of run your own business startup feel and always had kind of that desire to do that. And so I'd actually and it's probably a longer conversation for another day I've done a couple startups as well kind of on the side, in addition to the legal practice, but I kind of and that is some of the clients that I have now as well have generated from that and some and I still involved with some of the startups but as I was going through the law firm, it was kind of wanting to enjoy doing the work for them enjoy doing some of the you know, working with some of their clients, but I always had the desire to kind of run my own firm be able to manage it how I kind of say or thought made sense and- and do all of that. So I kind of after I got it some experience and work for the get some training and mentorship kind of got to the point that hey, this makes sense. I feel like I could go out on my own. I've got a good grasp and understanding and work with a lot of clients have an understanding of how kind of how firms run what I like, what I don't like what I think could be improved and kind of just made that transition in part because on that, and then in part based on did in I was doing some in House Counsel for one of the companies I'd actually helped him in a startup phase. And it just got to be big enough and growing fast enough and that that that that kind of they needed more within what I could provide at other firms. So it prompted me to start my own firm that I can more directly do some in house stuff for him as well.
Nice. So Which do you like better working for yourself or working for someone else? Working for the man
90% of the time working for myself 10% of the time? What do you have those days that are the spot? Are you having to do bookkeeping or taxes or other things that artists that you're saying, oh, wasn't so bad working for the bad, but about 90% of the time, I much more enjoy working for myself?
Yeah. So talk about some of the clients that you you've worked with, you've helped and what services do you provide them and how do you make their life better?
I make their life better in every way. Now. So I mean, name recognition or ones that you recognize, I mean, I've been- I've been throughout my career and that done everything from an amazon.com to an Intel to a red hat to Xerox. So you know, those are the ones that are easy to name drop or the ones that people recognize the ones I enjoy more, and the ones that I kind of focus my firm on are probably the ones you wouldn't recognize the names you would recognize as much of the small businesses, the startups, the ones that are getting going, which, you know, it's more fun than for my sense, you can be a little bit more hands-on, they're the ones that they need a bit more strategy, they need a bit more of, hey, let's sit down and you're part of the team and helping out as opposed to a little bit of a cog in a much bigger wheel. They already know what you know, they already have their strategy and how they fit into it. So you know, some of the ones I enjoy, are some smaller companies, you know, do some work for a company called a fear, they do kind of augmented and virtual reality or in the real sense of, you know, everything from working on air. planes and mechanics to medical applications and that but kind of supplementing that and having augmented reality, another work client that I worked for that I enjoyed, it's called to the hell, they are working on a non-invasive diabetes monitor, so to help people to manage their diabetes, so I do quite a bit of work for them. And so those are kind of some of the fun ones. I do everything I've done boating careers before, I've done baseball cards sorters. But generally, you know, and a lot of in-between, depending on what the startups are working on, but I- I tend to enjoy working with the startups and the small businesses.
So for a company like the ones that you shared, having a good patent and trademark attorney is probably a pretty valuable player to have on the team.
Yeah, and I always- I always try and get the honest answer for about nine years for the majority of companies that make sense. And so a lot of times when people ask, Hey, you know, should I get a patent or trademark, I try and put my myself in their shoes and say, well Most of the time, yes, the caveats are let's say you were building a company that was you know, a niche product or you know, kind of the swag product you think you'll be in, you're in the market makes a few dollars and be out in a couple of years. Patents or trademarks probably don't make sense you're not going to realize the value you don't have a lot to protect. And this is kind of a quick in and out. But if you're building a company that you're going to want to build it is long term and have value patents and trademarks and help you to protect and also be an asset so you know, you take patents, they're going to be more on the utility so the inventions, your products, your goods, what you're serving, or what you're selling, or kind of what your patents are, trademarks are more on the brand so if you think of you know, a Nike or an apple or something name recognition, they have a brand that is valuable as well. And so when I look at you know patents and trademarks, they kind of serve two values. One is that they help you protect what you're growing so you're putting all your time effort into building a brand you're building an invention, you want to protect it right stop others from using it. stop others from knocking it off. So that's kind of the one area that it helps. The other thing that you know, maybe sometimes overlooked but still is equally as valuable as it is an asset to the company, right? Meaning you to think of Nikes' evaluation, a lot of it is in their brand, and they have a very valuable brand. So not only are they protecting it, but they actually have a value in the way you capture that value. The brand is having a trademark and same thing with the patent if you're putting a lot of intellectual horsepower, nice weekends, blood, sweat, and tears, it's hard to capture all of that time too because you know, there isn't a lot of what goes into it as mental power and testing it now. And so a patent is kind of that way that you capture that as an asset of the company that then you can either license it you can sell it if you're getting acquired by a bigger company as part of the evaluation so kind of plays that duality of- of different roles as far as why you go after and protect them.
So of everybody kind of in the patent and trademark world What would you say that you are? Like? Is it absolutely like your zone of genius and you're kind of in the, you know, top one to 5% of all service providers and in maybe doing wide or particular industry or a particular category of work? What would that be for you?
A couple things. So if you I would almost split that question as to kind of where we focus and then where we have our experience level, right. So focus is we've set up everything from our fee structure to how we interact with clients to how we follow up with them base for startups and small businesses. So why we love and I've worked with big businesses, and I'm perfectly happy to help service them. It seems like there's a little bit of a niche in there in the sense that many small businesses and startups are unable to go to large firms a large firms are focusing on the big businesses on the ones that have a lot of building and a lot of sales and so they're not really set up as well or structured, help the startups in the small business to give them that training. And that in information that hands on. So that's kind of one of the focuses of the firm or that we've set up in order to better or better provide that service to those startups and small businesses that they wouldn't necessarily get it a lot of other firms and that is everything from we do flat fee, so they can easily understand how much things are going to cost them to, we have quite a bit of material that we put out for free to help them to come up to speed to we have free now free consultation and strategy sessions. And so we kind of really geared it towards them as far as kind of technology areas and what that would entail or what that would be. So my background is electrical engineering. So generally net naturally gravitate towards those type of products, whether it's either software related or electrical related because those have a lot of overlap and intermix. So a lot of what I tend to do is more or more weighted on the patent side toward software, electric, electrical engineering, electronics, hardware devices and those type of things. Within my firm, we have a couple other attorneys that also focus more on mechanical and, you know, physics and other things. So we have a pretty good spread of backgrounds to cover the different startups in their areas. But for me specifically is more software and electrical related.
So one thing that is I'm on your website, and your website address, by the way, is Miller ip elle.com. And so I like that you've got some various services here. And you've got there's a button that says flat fees, which I think a lot of startups appreciate, as opposed to, you know, hey, how much is that going to cost? You know, like a pretty much an arm and a leg, you know that the fees are actually very upfront, and you have a brand package, for example, and I wonder if that's something that would actually apply to a lot of different business owners that are looking at- at protecting their brand name, just in case someone else starts using something very Very similar to it or identical to it, they have some recourse to say is that- is that kind of how that would be used? Or maybe you can shed light on that?
Yeah. So I mean, we split it out, you could just if you just needed one of the services, you could get a patent, he had a trademark, you can get a copyright. And those are kind of split out and flat features you mentioned make it easy for company to say, hey, rather than the typical firm that has billable hours, and they'll build and keep building and it feels like that nip that bill just keeps on running up, you never know disease on the bundles, what we kind of when working with a lot of startups and that they come in and they kind of they've got they've started their business is starting to get traction started to be successful. And now they're saying okay, we probably should have done this months or years ago, but we need to start to try and protect it. And so we kind of have that the different bundles of if you're a beginning of startup or a small business, there's a bundle that says okay, you probably have a brand they're going to want to protect whether you know, that's product name, the name of the business or something of that and then you'll also Lot of times have a product that you're going to be developing a lot of startups you know, if you're in the technology area and you're the next apple or you're bringing the next iPhone or whatever your product is, you'll probably need to you want to protect that. So the bundles are set up to say, Hey, this is kind of, you can get it all in one will give these are the things that a typical startup will need, will put it in it will give it as you know, as a package, and then do it at a reduced price. So you can kind of get them all covered as you get in there. And then we set up the kind of the different tiers of you got to start up, beginning if you're a growing company and you you'll need more protection and more work to get caught up. And if you're you know, as well established, we kind of set up the different packages or bundles so that they can depending on where they're at, and their tiers, decide which ones are applicable to them.
So one service that I see that you offer would be logo design. So in my marketing and branding mind, I'm thinking that you're actually going to do the graphic design, but that's attorneys are not doing graphic design,
not attorney. So part of what we do, we do have an in house. So we have a really good part of patents, a lot of times you need drawings, right. And so you have to be able to use a figure drawing in order to display it and convey what it is and help somebody else understand that. So we have a very good draftsman that has an artistic band that does a lot of those patent drawings, but also has a very good talent for logo design. And that so part of our in house or somebody that's not an attorney, but as in house with us also has that talent. And so we offer that as a lot of times if you're particularly getting started, that's one of the fun things is you get to come up with your name of your company, you finally get to have a logo, you can do your business card. And that's just kind of one of the additional things that a lot of times somebody is looking as they're getting started this fun and exciting and also makes things a little bit more real. So we offer that with some of our in house services as well.
Great, great. Well, Devin so what would be the best way for like, if there's startup who's questioning whether or not they need to begin that patent trademark process? What's a great way to kind of have a great front door to start engagement with you? Well, yeah, you offer free strategy sessions.
Yeah. And that's that's, as I mentioned our focus on startups and small businesses and they always kind of come in and they don't know what they need help or they don't know what they don't know. Right. They they think they might ask them to protect or they might somebody mentioned Hey, you should patent that they don't know what you know, whether or not that makes sense for their- their circumstances. So we have free strategy sessions that they can either go on to the website the mentioned Miller IPL calm or they can just they also have, they can give me a call directly at my office, which is 8018 to 98446. Either way, they can go online or they can call me we schedule a free strategy session and that kind of allows them to sit down say, this is what I doing, you know, this is what our business is, this is what I'm doing. What would you recommend? or What does what makes sense? Or what doesn't make sense? Should I pursue that or shouldn't I? And then I kind of we sit down and kind of strategize. And I usually I give the advice based on what I would do in that circumstances. I've been through startups, I've done a few myself. So I'm saying, if I were to this startup, would I, would it make sense to go after a patent or trademark? Or sometimes the answer is no, it wouldn't make sense. And we kind of give you that that honest answer strategy, but say, here are some other things even if we can't provide these services. These are other things to consider. You may want to form an LLC if you're just doing it out of your garage when you're wanting to limit your liability. Or this is you know, here's a product development that you know, we can you want to turn to this product developer that can help you with some of your products and make it even better or FDA we that I've done a lot of FDA stuff or my career and if you need to go with some of the FDA approval, here's some people you can turn to so it's the strategy session is certainly patterns and trades. March but it's more holistic of here's the things that you would want to strategize as you work to improve or make or grow and then expand your startup or small business. That's fantastic.
Well, Devin Miller, you're the Founder and Managing Partner of Miller IP law on the web at Miller. ip l.com. Thanks so much for joining us.
My pleasure. It's been great to talk to the time always flies by it, it always seems to go quicker than I anticipate. So it's a good talk with you. Thanks so much.
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