In this episode of In The Trenches With Inventors we speak with Jeff Parker who won an Emmy for his technology, Juliette Fassett whose product sold over $500,000 in 13 minutes when it appeared on QVC and David Petite, an incredible inventor who has over 100 patents.
Jeff Parker is the first guest, he is a co-founder of several companies, all of which invested millions in R&D and protected those investments by securing patents. His first company developed semiconductor chips and controls for heating and air conditioning. Remember the thermostat years ago that had drop of mercury in a tube? Jeff’s company replaced that with digital control. Jeff’s second company developed television production cameras and equipment that were automated.
Jeff is an inventor on dozens of patents for those companies. He had tremendous success and even won an Emmy for his technology that allowed live TV news broadcasts with much smaller crews. Jeff formed ParkerVision to solve a major problem. The basic technology of wireless radio frequency signal generation and reception, called RF transceivers, required significant numbers of components, which made them large, power hungry, and challenging to achieve good performance.
The fundamental architecture of RF transceivers was largely the same as that of Marconi, developed 100 years earlier! RF transceivers are at the heart of all wireless products we use everyday – such as Smartphones, the many WiFi and Bluetooth products, GPS location systems, and any other wireless devices. Jeff’s group at ParkerVision, with over $100 of million of funding for R&D, and numerous highly paid engineers, proceeded to re-invent the fundamental architecture for wireless RF transceivers. A representative of the world’s largest wireless chip company called Jeff’s RF transceivers “the holy grail of RF.”
Even though ParkerVision had invested a huge amount of money to create a portfolio of patents for protection, Jeff soon ran into the efforts of vested interests to use our broken patent system against him.
Our second guest is Juliette Fassett, The Inventor of Flippy. Juliette didn’t set out to become an inventor. But like a lot of successful inventors, she observed a problem and came up with a great solution. The various products for holding a tablet computer while using it in bed or while lounging all had drawbacks. The solution she came up with was Flippy.
On limited funds, she got a patent and was selling the product through Amazon and catalogs. She wasn’t setting the world on fire, but she was doing OK. Then she got her product on QVC and sold $500,000 worth of product in 13 minutes! Seeing her success, a company that sells on TV jumped on the product and started selling it without her consent. Juliette talks about how difficult it is to defend Flippy from infringers.
The final distinguished guest is David Petite, NAIPEC (Native American Intellectual Property Enterprise Council). David Petite is the Founder of SIPCO, the Smart IP Company, and NAIPEC. David has over 100 patents relating to wireless technology. A number of his patents are from the early 1990’s and cover fundamental wireless network protocols. His technologies have been licensed to hundreds of companies and have produced very significant royalties.
David has experienced how our patent system worked before and after the passage of the America Invents Act, and his patents have received numerous PTAB attacks. David is also the Founder and President of the NAIPEC, the Native American Intellectual Property Enterprise Council, a non-profit group, which supports invention and innovation for Native American inventors and in the Native American community.
David compares how innovation differs to the times prior to the America Invents Act, explaining how it is more difficult today for inventors than ever before. He also provides some helpful advice for would-be inventors.