In a diversion from building my patent portfolio and usual articles about Supreme Court decisions on business method patents, New York Times videos of me talking about patent and copyright infringement, and even talks on dealing with the U.S. Patent Office . . . now for something completely different.
I am a huge fan of the ABC show, Shark Tank. In fact, I don’t even own a TV and it’s the only show I watch. I heard about it from one of the producers who called me before the show aired. How did they find me? More on that later, but you see, they were having a hard time finding entrepreneurs to come on the show. (Please don’t sue me Entrepreneur Magazine, it’s a permissible use of the plain english language word.)
The addition of Mark Cuban to Shark Tank made it so much better. Okay, so the 24 second shot clock thing . . . not my favorite, but he’s entertaining, usually right on, and makes some nice deals. The most surprising, of couse, was for IWTDACFY (I want to draw a cat for you) … and by the look of Steve Gadlin’s face when mark Cuban offered him $25,000 for a stake in his business selling cat drawings for $9.95, Steve was just as shocked as I was.
Anyway, I asked Mark to draw me a happy client receiving his patent for an RFID lottery system, my latest issued patent at the time, as he is, well, not the biggest fan of the patent system . . . here’s what he drew for me . . .
(scroll down, past the drawing for my artistique critique and further comments)
Okay, first off, this is the most I’ve ever paid for a piece of artwork. No, I don’t know what I was thinking .. I mean … how could I not check out Mark’s portfolio before commissioning artwork from him for my website? That was silly of me. Other than that, whoa . . . a guy worth 2.3 BIILLION DOLLARS just took the time to . . . be reduced to drawing a stick figure cat for me. How leveling is that? I was hoping to get a cat from Warren Buffett or Sheldon Adelson, who are worth two figures in the billions column, but this will have to do for now! Maybe celebrity cat drawings will be a path of expansion for IWTDACFY. (If they are interested in making some donations, I have some ideas!)
The internet has made the world a sillier, but more leveling place.
In this changing economy, secretaries, support staff, and traditional advertising are much less needed. Today, even your physical location matters much less. When I started out in 2004, I typed patents for a patent attorney using a dictaphone machine (transcribing his audio recoridngs). To save money, when I started my firm in 2007, I skipped the secretary. After almost five years without one, I decided to try one – it didn’t go so well. I rarely use envelopes or stamps, my invoices and payments are almost all done electronically, and clients prefer to have me pick up the phone. Plus, since business is usually in person only at the beginning stage, but otherwise by email, phone, and Skype (one of my clients is in Hong Kong, others in Australia, the U.K., Turkey, Israel, India, Pakistan, it goes on . . . ), it’s simply faster for me to do it myself than it is to hire someone.
If you’ve read this far, here’s why I really paid for this – well, other than that it amuses me . . . I thought, hey, if Mark Cuban can turn a $25,000 investment into IWTDACFY into a profit, I can turn Mark Cuban drawing a cat for me into a profit. I’m published or quoted in quite a few places, from intellectual property magazines, to CNN Money, to the New York Post, to The New York Times. Why? There are large patent law firms around for 50 years who hire hundreds of lawyers. I’m some guy (who happens to write excellent patent applications) who started from scratch on his own out of law school (after drafting patent applications for a rather large telecom company that my former boss prefers I not mention here) because I wanted to work for myself. I tried all sorts of newspaper ads, networking meetings, and so forth. What worked best – SEO. It attracts media, and more importantly, clients. I’d speak at an event to find out that the bump in search engine placement due to the inlink from their website got me many more clients than the talk got me! So you see, my business comes mostly from the internet, and referrals from clients whom I acquired via the internet.
My search engine rankings for “patent lawyer“, “NY patent lawyer“, and “NJ pattent lawyer” are consistently in the top three positions, and I want to keep it that way. So I bought a cat drawing from Mark Cuban. Does it make sense now?
For my next article . . . comments on Mark Cuban’s take on the patent system and the higher education bubble. He’s got some good points on both, but let’s just say I’m a much bigger fan of his higher educaiton bubble opinion! My law school would now cost you $150k, not including living expenses for three years, while there are 45k new lawyers each year for 21k job openings a year . . .