As an entrepreneur himself, he wanted to help other small business owners learn patents, trademarks, and copyrights so they can build value into their businesses and protect their assets.

Devin Miller has an interesting background in building several 7-figure and 8-figure start-ups and founding a patent and trademark law firm.  Devin has 4 degrees, including electrical engineering, Chinese, MBA, and a Law degree.

While working for a large law firm helping Fortune 100 clients like Amazon.com, Intel, Redhat, and Ford with their intellectual property, he realized that there weren’t many good intellectual property legal resources for start-ups and small businesses. 

During today’s show, you will discover the difference between patents, trademarks, and copyrights. What they protect and when you should use each one – don’t miss this episode!

Quick disclaimer: Devin’s discussion on our show today is for informational purposes only. These explanations are not a substitute for legal advice for your business.  

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full Episode:

  1. Why he switched from engineering to law? 
  2. Learn patents, trademarks, copyright, and intellectual property
  3. What made him go from working for a large law firm helping fortune 100 clients to help small businesses. 

Episode Highlights

Devin’s background 

  • He and his wife met in college and have been married for 13 years.
  • They have four children together. 
  • He has degrees in Mandarin Chinese, an MBA, an electrical engineering degree, and a law degree. 

Why four degrees? 

  • Devin started with electrical engineering because his dad was in that profession. 
  • He studied Mandarin Chinese because of the mission he served with his church in Taiwan and wanted to add to it.  
  • He didn’t want to be an engineer, so his love for start-ups led him to the MBA. 

Did the law degree come before the businesses? 

  • After graduating with his Chinese electrical engineering degree, Devin was trying to decide what to do. 
  • He did a dual degree in law and an MBA. 
  • He worked 20 hours as a law clerk and then decided to start his own business. 

What was it about the world of patents and trademarks? 

  • Devin always thought law sounded interesting, even though it’s not like what you see on tv. 
  • He was interested in a mixture of law and intellectual property. 
  • He could mix his engineering background with the law side and make it his own. 

The first business Devin started 

  • This business is in the nine-figure business. 
  • While an MBA scholar, Devin went to a business competition and formed a group.
  • The first entry of the group was to make a gym bag less smelly. 
  • While walking home, he kept thinking that when running marathons, he would skip the hydration station. 
  • He then created a way to monitor your hydration?
  • Then someone asked Devon if he could turn the hydration monitor into diabetes monitoring. 

His role in the company today 

  • Devin has ownership of the company.
  • He does engineering technology development for it. 
  • He has also done the intellectual property side.

Learn patents, trademarks, copyright, and intellectual property

  • Devin says that intellectual property is an umbrella term. 
  • He says that a patent goes towards something that’s an invention. 
  • Trademarks go more towards the branding side of things. 
  • Copyrights are more on the creative work.

Different types of patents

  • One is a design patent that is towards the aesthetic nature. 
  • Utility patents are for functionality and can be software, hardware, mechanical, and electronics. 
  • A provisional patent is a placeholder good for one year. 
  • A non-provisional patent is the complete patent application. 

How does Devin define a start-up?

  • He says that he defines it in a couple of ways, one being the frame of mind. 
  • Another one is how early on the business is. 
  • And also, how long has the company been active, and are you making any money? 

Does a business need to protect its work formally

  • Devin says yes with patents as you have to do something formal. 
  • Trademarks, yes, with some exceptions because he doesn’t recommend relying on those. 
  • Copyrights are different because inherently when you create something, you have those rights. 

Should a start-up spend a lot of energy on this at the beginning?

  • Devin’s simple answer is to start as early as you can to avoid problems later. 
  • The first thing he would do is figure out what kind of company you have. 
  • If you’re a company making the next best iPhone, then you’ll want to get a patent. 
  • He says if you are a company with really excellent branding, you’ll want to focus on copyright. 

What are some examples of things you can’t patent?

  • Devin says it’s easier to talk about what can’t be patented rather than what can. 
  • A perpetual motion machine or a cure for cancer cannot be patented. 
  • Does it meet three criteria: novelty, obviousness, and abstraction. 

Do any of these vehicles increase the valuation of the company? 

  • Devin says that potentially, yes and no. 
  • It protects your business so gives you recourse if someone tries to knock off what you have. 
  • Breaks down the word intellectual property. Describes what it is that you created.  

Things investors might look for  

  • Devin says that every investor is different. 
  • Do your homework on that individual or investment group. 
  • They all have various missions and look for different criteria. 

What contributes to a valuation of a company 

  • Sometimes it’s a bubble, or sometimes it’s people that are over-evaluating things. 
  • Are they making recurring sales?
  • How quickly are they acquiring customers? 

How does Devin pull off everything he is doing? 

  • Devin says that his wife and kids are awesome. 
  • His wife is super supportive, and he gives her a ton of kudos. 
  • He has a good team built around him, and he realizes that he couldn’t do it all alone. 

What does Devin do when there is pressure mounting?

  • He says having a support system is essential. 
  • He also says that he realizes that there will be times where it isn’t going to be fun. 
  • You realize that both good and bad times happen, but having the determination that when you are in failure mode, you will get back to the success mode. 

One piece of advice that Devon would share 

  • When things take off, and you are ready to hire someone – don’t overlook the red flags. 
  • Devin says that the best thing to do when team building is to slow down. 
  • Do three rounds of interviews and walk through the process. 

How does Devin want to be remembered? 

  • He wants to be known as a good husband and father. 

3 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

The Shift 

  • 5:16 – I got towards the end of engineering. And I said, You know, I like engineering, but I don’t want to be an engineer. So now how can I utilize that, and that’s kind of where I got into the MBA doing start-ups and understanding electronics and technology, and intellectual property to help a lot of start-ups and small businesses, particularly in the software and electronics area.”

Companies worth 

  • 38:37 -“You may start in the consumer goods. But, hey, there’s a great governmental route here, or contracts or b2b business to business or other all these other verticals have fit very well with the business that allows you to expand and others will be other ways get a much higher valuation. So they’re going to start to try and take all of that, bundle it together, determine what it’s worth, assign a multiple on that, and then say this is how much your company’s worth.”

Balancing life 

  • 40:55 – “I had to find that that’s how I approach, I’m going to work as hard as I can while I’m at work, and then I’m going to take off and not be at work when I want to be tuned in with the family. “

About Devin Miller

He’s an entrepreneur who is also a patent and trademark attorney. He has obtained several degrees, including a Law degree (JD) and a Masters in Business Administration. He also has degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mandarin Chinese.

While working for a large law firm helping Fortune 100 clients like Amazon.com, Intel, Redhat, and Ford with their intellectual property, he quickly realized that there weren’t many good intellectual property legal resources out there for start-ups and small businesses. As an entrepreneur, he wanted to help other small business owners learn patents, trademarks, and copyrights so they can build value into their businesses and protect their assets.

In addition to founding and running his patent and trademark law firm, Miller IP Law, he is the co-founder of several start-ups, including a multi-million dollar start-up for wearable glucose monitoring. He also runs a product development company that helps start-ups and small businesses develop their ideas and products.

He’s been married to his college sweetheart for ten years, and they live in Utah with their four children. He focuses on being home each evening with his family to help find a balance between an exciting career and a well-rounded family life.

Connect with Devin Miller

Website
Facebook 
LinkedIn
Book a call to learn patents, trademarks, and copyrights for your business

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Thanks for listening,

Darrell