Vance VanDrake is a patent attorney, author, entrepreneur and most of all, a teacher.
If you want to know a little bit of my story, check that out below. You can pick up my first book, The Patent Game, here and the accompanying podcast here. If you’d like to connect about keynote speaking opportunities or become a client you can get in touch with me here.
Some of my accolades
Driving technology for leading brands
I wasn’t aware of patent law as a possible career path until I was nearly finished with college, but once I found my calling I dove in head first. I passed the first of the two required bar exams for becoming a patent attorney while I was still in college at Butler University. I started my career as a patent agent at Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, where I cut my teeth working on radio frequency and harmonic scalpel medical device technology. At Ethicon, I had the opportunity to work and train with some of the best patent professionals in the world, experiencing a sort of baptism by fire in the high-stakes field of medical device patents. My time working for Johnson & Johnson taught me a lot about how big companies can and should play the patent game.
While at Ethicon, shortly after having graduated from college, I was given the opportunity to move to Lubbock, Texas to draft patent applications for a startup that was going to be acquired by Johnson & Johnson. I accepted and quickly became hooked on the archetypal startup culture of working long hours, playing chess every day at lunch, and cruising around on Razor scooters in our giant warehouse of an office. But what really stuck with me from that time was the feeling that my work was truly valuable, as I was helping to make a new medical technology a reality. A sound patent strategy and the intelligent pursuit of potent patent protection are the great equalizers for small businesses when it comes to dealing with Fortune 500 companies. I’ve always enjoyed helping David take on Goliath. I soon left for law school at the University of Cincinnati with the singular goal of becoming a patent attorney.
The impetus for this book was that I couldn’t find a single comprehensive, accessible, and relatable resource to give my clients when they had questions about patent basics and strategy. I never planned to be an author. But after buying all of the books purporting to demystify the patent process, I found that all of them were essentially just textbooks. You could easily use my book in a classroom, but I wanted to create something you’d want to read rather than something you had to slog through as required reading.
When writing The Patent Game, I tried to approach the difficult and esoteric subject of patent law from the viewpoint of an innovator, entrepreneur, or business leader that has little or no experience with the minutiae of applying for and securing patent protection. What would I, as a former entrepreneur with an insatiable appetite for Audible books, want to read if I was just starting to learn about this difficult subject? In my practice today, this question is also the driving force behind how I teach and speak about intellectual property. You are only going to remember what interests you, so why not make things as interesting as possible? After all, patents and intellectual property are dealing essentially with creativity and innovation. This passion can be seen in everything I do professionally and I’ve been fortunate to share my experiences, knowledge, and love of this subject matter at international conferences, startup accelerators, incubators, universities, and law schools. Along the way, I’ve had the privilege of helping a great many founders, inventors, students, and business leaders improve their own knowledge of the patent game – their “IP IQ”, as I’ve taken to calling it – so they can build meaningful business value through acquiring and protecting intellectual property.
I’m a self-described game nerd, particularly when it comes to word games; I used to write crossword puzzles to help pay for college, I walked around with a Scrabble board in law school, and I’ve been known to win a few dollars playing Settlers of Catan at various bars in Cincinnati, where I currently reside. Patent law has allowed me to combine many of my passions into new ways of helping others achieve their business goals and I love that. As a painter, inventor, business founder and board, table, and card game addict, the ability to combine seemingly disparate interests into a single career, where I’m surrounded constantly by brilliant people, has been incredibly rewarding.
You don’t have to love board games in the same way that I do, or have a deep desire to learn the minutiae of patent law, for The Patent Game to be illuminative and useful. My hope is simply to convince you that patent law is not merely a dry administrative subject. There is a rich and rewarding strategic philosophy to be gleaned from learning the finer points of the patent game and you’ll soon realize the opportunities for creativity are nearly endless. By improving your IP IQ, I’m hopeful that you will learn valuable insights that can be applied to any personal or business goals you might have and that you will gain the foundational knowledge to become a formidable player in this exciting and dynamic game.
So you want to change the world?
The Patent Game is a book written specifically for inventors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders that want to improve their patent knowledge – or, as I refer to it, IP IQ – to leverage patents as a key driver of business value.
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In our first series of The Patent Game Podcast, The Basics, we’ll break down the foundational elements of the patent process in bite-sized (and sometimes moderately entertaining) chunks. We’ll cover patent application types, tricks and tools, the anatomy of a patent, and other practical information you can apply directly to your business or innovation.