Holiday Giving 2011: Gift Ideas for the Geek in Your Life

It is that time of the year when we frantically look for appropriate and interesting holiday gifts to give to friends, family and clients. Christmas comes each year predictably on December 25th, but Hanukkah moves around and this year will start at sundown on December 20th, so time is running short, particularly if you are like me and you are going to be purchasing many (if not most or even all) of your gifts online. has a great deal on shipping too — it’s called Amazon Prime and the annual fee is $79.  Amazon Prime gives you free two-day shipping or $3.99 per item on one-day shipping for all eligible purchases.  Not every purchase is “eligible,” but those things sold directly from Amazon seem always to be “eligible.”  So you won’t spend an arm and a leg in shipping fees even if you wait to the last minute!

With the economy still unsettled, extravagant gifts aren’t likely in many budgets.  That means creativity will reign supreme.  With a little extra thought you can give a really cool gift to that special someone, whether they are a patent attorney, inventor, law student or computer geek.  With that in mind, below are some suggestions in order to help you find some fun, thoughtful and appropriately cool gifts for the geek in your life.  The best part is the price means that one or more of these items should fit almost any budget.

Periodic Table Mugs (about $10)

This has to be one of the coolest, most unique gift ideas ever. Now you might not want to get it for just any inventor. You probably will get the biggest reaction from someone who knows a thing or two about chemistry. Those who have taken the PLI Patent Bar Review Course know that I am not such a person. I was going to be a chemical engineer right up until I took Chemistry! Well, actually it was Chemistry II, but I digress. This will be something that will either wind up being a favorite coffee mug, or placed on a desk and used as the ultimate pencil/pen holder! I can’t imagine any geek — I mean patent attorney or inventor — not finding this to be a wonderful gift.  Even someone who is chemically challenged like me would certainly enjoy it a mug like this. Come to think of it, perhaps those of us who are chemically challenged would be the best recipients!  You might also like the Caffeine Glass Beaker Coffee Mug, which has the chemical formula for Caffeine proudly displayed.

Mathematical Formulas Mug (about $13)

Not into chemistry?  Well how about this Mathematical Formulas Mug instead?    Or perhaps the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks (about $9) is more the style of the person on your list.  Then there is also the Pop Quiz Wall Clock (about $31) that requires you to answer a math problem in order to tell what the hour and minute hand are pointing to.  For example, 10 on the clock shows: “-8 = 2 – x.”  If you solve for x you know it is 10.  Can you imagine how much the geek in your life will enjoy this gift and how it will annoy everyone else?  A little less challenging might be the Square Root Wall Clock (about $18).

Great Again: Revitalizing America’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (about $18)

After a couple fun gifts let’s get serious for a moment.  The magnitude of the problems facing our economy cannot be overstated.  Neither can it be overstated that a coherent national innovation policy is the answer to what ails the U.S. economy.  As Hank explains in the Introduction, “for the first time in our history, the connection between technological innovation and job creation has broken down. And for the first time also, the wealth created by innovation is going mostly just to a handful of founders and venture capitalists rather than to many thousands of employees, not to mention the community at large.”  Great Again is an excellent read because it is presented in straight forward fashion. There is no political agenda, no preaching, just solid facts.  Hank provides a compelling and relatively non-controversial plan for helping entrepreneurs through tax, education, immigration, intellectual property, and R&D policies that focus what American corporations need in order to thrive here in the United States, creating those American jobs that have seemed so elusive.  This is a MUST read and will make a great gift.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (about $10)

This animated film stars Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader, star of “Saturday Night Live” and Night of the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian), a young inventor who dreams of creating something that will improve everyone’s life.  Like most inventors his inventions go nowhere until, one day, he is a tremendous success.  It turns out that the only thing that people can afford to eat are sardines because “sardines are super gross.”  Flint comes to the rescue and creates an invention that turns water into food, which causes all sorts of food to fall from the heavens, which comes with its own unique problems, including pizza that chases you. I saw the movie when it came out and it is definitely worth a watch if you have children or grandchildren, particularly at DVD prices.

Proud to be a Patent Attorney (about $15)

Now I think I may have seen everything.  When searching for patent attorney specific gifts I came across a Patent Attorney T-shirt that said “patent attorney – will work for beer.”  The economy is rough, but I don’t know anyone working for beer.  There had to be a better patent attorney gift on Amazon, and there was.  How about this handy-dandy license plate frame holder!  Tell the world you are a patent attorney wherever you go!  Amazon says that the “lettering and artwork are done with weather and car wash resistant vinyl that is waterproof,” and then goes on say that the frame is “[s]ophisticated and trendy,” and “the perfect finishing touch on any vehicle.”  I’m not sure about that, but as a gag gift it will be hard to beat.

One Simple Idea (about $15)

The full title of the book is One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work.  With a title like that you are likely going to be skeptical.  Another how to get rich with no work book.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  The book is written by Stephen Key of Invent Right.  Key is an inventor coach and through Invent Right offers a home study program for inventors, which includes personal coaching, DVD lectures, a year of online training and more.  One Simple Idea includes Key’s stories as a successful inventor himself, as well as the stories of his students and those who he consults with, form the basis of the lessons inOne Simple Idea.  I don’t recommend all that many books, although I am asked to review many.  Without hesitation I recommend Key’s book and think it should be required reading for any motivated inventor.  This isn’t a how to get rich quick book, but rather a book that explains how to responsibly move forward with your ideas.  If you know someone with a lot of ideas you will do them a tremendous favor by giving them this book!

The Art of the Patent (about $30)

The Art of the Patent is an excellent coffee table book for anyone involved in the inventing world.  It is hard to imagine a patent law firm that wouldn’t want to have this book in the client waiting room.  It is a collection of fun, interesting, strange, cool and intricate patent illustrations.  If you get the book and flip it over you will find this quote from me on the back cover: “The unsung heroes in the patent world are those skilled illustrators that make inventions fly off the page.  Prince captures some of the best examples that tell why a picture is worth one thousand words and more!  Excellent!”  So attorneys, if you have a client that doesn’t want to pay for drawings, tell them to check this book out and learn what professional illustrations can do for an application.

Independent Inventors HandboookIndependent Inventors Handbook (about $9)

Most of the time books that target independent inventors are either OK or good, and for the money you spend you certainly get good value, making most books in this space worthwhile when priced under $30. In this case, this book is available for about $10 new and provides extraordinary valuable information on all aspects of innovation and commercialization. The book contains valuable legal information, no doubt because it was co-authored by a patent attorney. The other co-author is Louis Foreman, the Executive Producer of Everyday Edisons and the publisher of Inventors Digest Magazine. Louis has packed the book with valuable business, marketing and commercialization information that every inventor should read, find enjoyable and learn from. I highly recommend this book for all inventors. If you want to succeed with your invention from start to finish, this book will explain all the basic information you need to know and prepare you for the journey.

Absent Minded Professor (about $13.50)

Flubber (about $12)

Perhaps my favorite inventor movie of all time is The Absent Minded Professor.  This classic was remade in 1998 by Disney with Robin Williams as the star under the name Flubber.  The main character, Professor Brainard, is a forgetful professor of chemistry at Medfield College. He invents a substance that gains energy when it strikes a hard surface, called Flubber, which is short for flying rubber. Some of the more memorable moments in the movie include the basketball game where the Professor places flubber on the team’s shoes, which causes some high flying antics, and who can forget how the Professor makes his Model T fly!

Inventors Digest ($27 for 1 year subscription)

Give a gift that keeps on giving all year long — a subscription to Inventors Digest.  Inventors Digest is committed to educate and inspire independent and professional innovators. As the leading print and online publication for the innovation culture, Inventors Digest delivers useful, entertaining and cutting-edge information to help its readers succeed. Inventors Digest is unfailingly ethical and unceasingly bold in its celebration of innovation. The Editor, Mike Drummond, is a former Pulitzer Prize nominee, and the interviews he got in 2009 alone were astonishing (Ben Stiller, Dean Kamen, Joe Gibbs, David Kappos and more). Inventors Digest magazine is now in its 24th year. The magazine is available by subscription for a special price of $27 per year, $47.50 for 2 years or $60 for 3 years.

Gadget Nation (about $13.50)

Steve Greenberg, the author of Gadget Nation, describes himself as “an invention groupie.” In fact, he has won 12 Emmy Awards for his news reporting and in recent years has focused on innovations made by everyday people. Gadget Nation started out as a television show proposal, but then transformed into a book profiling some extraordinary inventors and their inventions. Steve says that many inventors who read the book tell him they get inspired, saying if they can do it I certain can! Others tell Steve that after reading the book they decided it was too much work to be an inventor. Everyone who reads the book is entertained, and for about $13 new it is an excellent buy. Did you know you can buy diapers for your bird? You will after you read this book, and you will be amazed at how profitable that invention has been!

Future Patent Attorney Tote (about $15)

What expecting mom wouldn’t love to get a tote bag that reads Future Patent Attorney?  Exactly!  According to the website this item will not arrive before Christmas even if ordered immediately, which is a bummer.  Still, it was too good to leave off the list.

And from the shameless commerce division… what inventor wouldn’t want IPWatchdog Gear? To see our full assortment of t-shirts, sweatshirts and novelty items visit the IPWatchdog Shop. All IPWatchdog Gear items are sold by and shipped through

Happy holidays everyone!


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of Read more.

Join the Discussion

One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Jim Dottavio]
    Jim Dottavio
    December 12, 2011 11:11 am

    Another gift option is a membership to TechShop… kind of a geek’s gym membership.

    They have holiday specials – for $49, you can get one month access to $1 million worth of tools… it’s a great way to have access to a lot of equipment to actually make an idea come to life (and to inspire innovation).

    They’re just opening a facility in Detroit, and have shops in Menlo Park, SF, SJ & Ralegh. I’m looking forward to working with some of my inventors there next year!

    Here’s their website