It’s time to clue you all in on something we’ve been working on for the past several months — a new podcast hosted by yours truly where we discuss the intellectual property side of founding and building a startup. It’s called “Novel & Non-Obvious” and you can listen to our first couple of episodes right here.

Why Novel & Non-Obvious? It’s a little inside baseball, but it’s a term that the United States Patent Office (USPTO) uses to determine which patents it grants. In order to be protected IP, a particular innovation has to be “novel, non-obvious and useful.” Novel is pretty clear — it’s something new and unique. Usefulness is straightforward as well; there’s no reason to patent an invention that no one wants to use. But non-obvious is a trickier one. In USPTO’s wording, in order for something to be non-obvious it has to be different enough from what came before it that someone else in that invention’s particular field would not have been able to come up with the idea on their own. It isn’t obvious.

So, that’s the title. But the podcast itself is going to look far and wide at all of the intellectual property concerns facing startups. To do that, I’ll speak with entrepreneurs, innovators, founders and more to learn more about their startup journeys and the IP lessons they’ve learned along the way. I’ll also spend some time sharing my own insights into the patent process and answer questions about intellectual property, patent prosecution and everything else in the black box that is IP.

Why? Because innovation is just the beginning. 

It doesn’t matter how groundbreaking your technology is, how skilled your team is, or how valuable your market is; without a structured patent strategy in place you’re still running the risk of your hard work being stolen by a competitor or patented by someone else. But the legal complexities of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets aren’t typically taught in business schools and represent just one more hurdle in the busy life of an entrepreneur. 

Novel & Non-Obvious is here to help change that and help founders make sense of their IP and leverage it to build strong, growing companies.

First up, we spoke with Anthony Franco, the founder of M.C. Squares. The company is reinventing the most basic of all business tools — the whiteboard, the sticky note, etc — in ways that make sense for today’s digital-first world. It’s a great idea, and it got Anthony funded on “Shark Tank” in May 2020. But refreshing existing products means running into some IP headaches along the way.

We’ll be releasing new episodes every Wednesday, so be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And please feel free to ping me with ideas and any requests that you’d like to see us cover.