Stephen Key is the world’s leading expert on licensing consumer product ideas. In addition to being a best selling innovation author on books for serial inventors, entrepreneurs and startups, in 2018-2019 Key served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science-Lemelson Invention Ambassador.
Key has achieved repeat success as an independent inventor, including defending his intellectual property against one of the largest toy companies in federal court. The innovative packaging solution he brought to market is protected by more than 20 patents and received 15 industry awards, including two Edisons.
inventRight, the coaching program he cofounded in 1999, has helped people from more than 60 countries license their product ideas. He explains how to take advantage of the power of open innovation on his popular YouTube channel inventRightTV and in his regular articles for Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur online. In 2017, he cofounded Inventors Groups of America (IGA) with the goal of educating and empowering inventors and inventing group leaders. He is also the cofounder of inventYES, a free program for high school students worldwide.
Not too long ago, independent inventor Josh Malone finally received a settlement for willful infringement of his patents. He won in court and at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and from what I’ve read, I know it was a long, hard fight, and the cost to litigate was in the tens of millions of dollars. But, he did it, and his product Bunch O Balloons continues to be a number-one hit summer toy. Licensing his invention to one of the fastest growing toy companies in the world (ZURU) clearly had its advantages for Malone. But what about the rest of us independent inventors? For the last decade or so, the patent system has not been in favor of the independent inventor. But has it ever been? I don’t think so.