Today I received the hard copy of an issued patent, MY patent. The feeling is entirely surreal. Never would I have thought someday I would be an inventor. No, seriously... this is crazy.
I'm sure you're wondering 'Why?' 'How?' And, to be honest, I never considered myself a 'creative' person. And, it's not a fluke! I have two other patents pending! So, even if you're not wondering, I'm going to tell you how this came to be.
As an undergrad at UNLV, I took a class titled "Gaming Innovation." Mind you, I wasn't a gaming or hospitality major. And, despite living five minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, I really had no knowledge of gambling or the gaming industry. The entire basis for the class was to generate intellectual property (aka invent stuff), which is a bit intimidating to say the least. But after this experience, I believe there is method and a way of thinking, that creates novel ideas. I'll take you through my process...
The Gaming Innovation Lab is taught by gaming industry expert, Mark Yoseloff, who, in addition to his expertise, deploys a team of mentors to help students develop their ideas. The first few weeks of class was a crash course on the subject of gambling. The psychology, sociology, the math, what games have tried and failed, which have been successful, etc. The assignment, from there, is to bring them back your raw ideas.
In the following weeks, student present ideas for products to Mark and the team of mentors. The ideas are evaluated, feedback is provided, then they tell you to keep going, "I think you're onto something."
About half way through the course, a major casino operator approached our program. They had a problem. That problem was edge sorting. If you're not familiar, I encourage you to visit 888casino.com/blog/apheat to learn more.
From there, the project was presented to the class as extra credit. As the weeks went by I was one of the first to propose a solution. Let me add, not only did I not have much knowledge of the gaming industry, I'm also not an engineer. Two things I realized at this point: 'invention' is really just 'useful and creative problem solving.' Given the parameters of a problem or issue, find a solution. It's no more than solving a puzzle. Secondly, there's no reason why you can't recombine existing technologies to solve the issue, or look to other industries for solutions. Turns out there is value in being the jack of all trades. Recombine information in a "novel, useful, and non-obvious" (in the USPTO's words) and you might just have something!
So, the idea for my patent, as I eluded, recombined two existing technologies. When I presented it to my group of mentors, their reaction was hilarious. What I thought of as so simple, to them was brilliant! The casino was impressed as well! From that point, the school filed a patent on my behalf, and has managed the patent process all the way through. The program is set up so that students remain the named inventor on the patent in exchange for a small share of royalties (a pretty good deal when compared to other universities). A provisional, a utility, an appeal, and here we are today (process simplified).
But really, who would have thought? For those of you reading, give yourself a chance, a chance to be creative. People come up with solutions for problems everyday. And you never know, solutions that solve big problems can be worth A LOT.
Thank you for reading :)