Thursday, June 5, 2008

The never-ending proposal

I feel I'm making progress. I know I am. But this whole endeavor is quite exhausting. More than 6000 words on the page. (I've probably edited out more than twice that already). I'm putting my best foot forward. The deeper I get into the process, not only of preparing this federal grant proposal, but of building the business, the more I believe in it. I've been doing almost daily searches, including multiple keyword searches of issued patents and published applications. Mostly, I'm on my own in the research domain, and that's exciting. I feel like I've entered a massive field of stones, and all have been turned over... but one! When there is something remotely similar to what I'm doing, it's not too hard for me to see through a lacuna in that work. I remain convinced that what I'm proposing is indeed novel and valuable. And yet, I remain on the cusp.

The proposal I've been putting together would be a first step, giving me a real salary for conducting the research I've been doing for free for most of the past two years, and in part for the two preceding ones. That ... would be heaven. But it's just a start. If I'm right... If I really can accomplish the things I'm setting out to do, it should be little problem moving to the next phase and beyond. All told, this could mean more than a million dollars for my firm, just on one project... and that's before commercialization. That should be enough to hire a staff. Instant colleagues. If I deliver, I've got a product to propel me forward.

My goal is not to get rich (though I certainly won't cast it off). My goal is simple: to find a way to make enough with my research to keep it going for the next thirty years. I simply want it to become self-sustaining. And the thing is, though this proposal is sapping all my energies at the moment, I don't really need this one to come through. I'm utterly convinced that the right opportunity will arise one way or another.

Most likely I'll submit just one of these two proposals I've been planning. It's simply too much work (if I do it right) to get both done. But there are two more cycles coming up with other agencies in August and October. And there are many opportunities beyond these federal grants as well.

Next step after this grant submission is working on the patent filing. I've spent a lot of time lately reading patents on related work. Some are well written, some work interesting, others so badly written I haven't the slightest idea what they're about. I want my patent application to be clear, patently clear. Will I hire an attorney? Perhaps. I haven't decided for sure, though I suspect I'll at least want to hire one to look over my wording, even if I file it on my own. I suspect part of what makes some patents and applications so poorly written is that the attorneys at times have no idea what the invention is all about, so they fill in the filing with words words words. On the other hand, there's a strategy I believe to presenting just the facts, ma'am, without providing all the pith, in the nomenclature--without making the description enabling. Properly, I believe a patent is supposed to be enabling... but in practice it most often isn't.

First off, I complete and submit this grant proposal. Next, I find my Nolo's Patents for Beginners, and get cracking. We'll see. It just might be worth paying that $5-10k for an attorney.

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