Protect & Leverage Your Intellectual Property

Protect & Leverage Your Intellectual Property

Brian Zheng

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs

10/12/2020

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Protect & Leverage Your Intellectual Property

My experience is, always, intellectual property protection. When you have a piece of intellectual property & a protection, that gives you a lot more leverage. 

To negotiate a market share.

To negotiate cause of production.

To also carve out your own niche.

That gives you an opportunity to slow down your competition, or to fence out the knock-offs, the copycats, or infringers. 

 If there is an opportunity, if there is creativity, try to file legal protection.


The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

ai generated transcription

my experience is always uh intellectual property uh protection when you have a piece or in the uh intellectual property as a protection and that gave you a lot more leverage to negotiate a market share negotiate cost of production and also carve out your own niche protect your own niche that gives you a opportunity to uh to be uh to slow down your competition or uh uh to fence out the knockoff a copycat or infringement this is uh if there is opportunity if there's a creativity try to file a legal protection [Music] everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur entrepreneur now i messed up on my own word that has built seven and uh several seven and eight figure businesses um from scratch as well as the um founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and uh today we've got another great guest on and he has a couple guests in the background that may or may not chime in but so we've got a bit of an entourage which is all the better and uh but the the main guest we have on is brian jung and uh brian has uh been a bit of a inventor or an entrepreneur ever since he was in school uh majored in some industrial design created some you know what what a lot of people may know is the you know the automotive pop-up sun shade that he was one or the inventor on that that was his first product um graduated or and then uh did that be before he graduated sold off that business and that has been been launching a few businesses ever since so if that is an introduction welcome on to the podcast brian thank you very much for your invitation appreciate the opportunity well thank you for coming on so with that we'll dive right in so we i gave a brief introduction but you said you know you've been an adventure basically ever since you've been in school so maybe if you want to remember all the way back to the early school days of your your invention and let's talk a little bit pick the conversation up from there and talk a little bit about your journey of course thank you again uh i will uh i will start my um my history back to uh the late 80 i came to uh in the mid 80 i came to the us and to practice learn my english again most of audience still were able to pick up my accent my thick chinese accent so therefore i categorize myself have a unique language called english it's not english it's called english it's chinese and english combined i actually and i don't know that i mentioned to you i lived in taiwan for a couple years um i served a religious mission for my church and i also studied chinese when i was in uh in my undergraduate so this is a common note uh not that our audience would understand but it would be fun sometime maybe after the podcast we can talk a bit in chinese so you can always uh talk in chinese with me since i i still remember my chinese a little bit i haven't i'm sure you're chinese i'm sure your chinese is significantly better than mine so anyway and then i i i actually the airplane was landed in uh seattle and i flew from hong kong i flew from i crossed a border from mainland china which city of guangzhou and sunjin and hong kong and then i flew to seattle from hong kong hong kong at the time is a developing area a lot of vehicles are very smoggy the entire city is very very soggy the moment i landed in seattle shut the hell out of me the air so clean the windows so clean i look at i look at outside of the trees and little hills and the runway i thought this building has no windows so clear so nice so that that actually is what the beauty beautiful land of america so clear so nice good good air good quality a good environment then i i will then i again i transfer myself from seattle spokane there is a school uh called eastern washington university in the city of cheney i start my language uh from over there to learn my english um and i was a very fortunate uh uh to stay in a american family the father alan hale is a retired u.s air force colonel um they have a uh six voice every oil became to my brothers not even now up to today they are we still uh keep in touch and we still are very good friends with the family so i became to their part of their family they became too part of my family so after two years language i'm uh i went to art center college of design in pasadena as a industrial design major i was able to learn how american in industrial design um working with school and also working with uh several automotive uh manufacturers they all have a studio in los angeles area and i was able to work with certain uh car design studio as a part-time as a a internship then i was able to also walk into a situation in the middle of school we're all very tired but we are we can uh i can rest because the brain was so so so so uh so nervous and then i was pick up the remote control watching a tv guess what there is a infomercial pop-up in front of me teaching people how to make a mail-order business and how to do a business in the u.s from your own invention what the hell that was a joseph crossman very popular uh in mail order and then i was able to have a little crowdfunding from the school in from the class in the school raise a little money approximately 365 uh dollars of everybody chip in and 25 dollars and then bought the whole uh course it walk you through how to make uh how to form your business how to apply your ip protection which is utility design pattern trademark and form a uh entrepreneur uh business and uh sell it as a mail order at time is very big and also sell to the uh chain store like a walmart came up at the time uh price club at the time costco and uh any other toys r us whatever store was at the time sears is very big that's where american shop that's their slogan and then um in the class um they the teachers say you guys are creative guy why the hell you guys still sitting in my class get your ass move out my classroom and pick up one existing item you can design better and come back next week oh all right that's it okay so uh some people pick up the stroller some people pick up the sporting goods and automotive accessory whatever but they spend several hundred dollars to buy the sample and dissect them and re-study them design them i was a very poor student i don't even have money to buy samples but the most uh lowest price point uh product i was able to pay attention and able to uh to buy is a cardboard cardboard accordion cardboard sunshade for auto motive windshield cost me 3.99 to buy one and then i'll say maybe i can figure out a way to redesign this this guy scratched the dashboard and so hard cardboard sometimes even generate paper cut on the fingers of the user and later on they may even auto automatically pop up because of the memory of the cardboard while you're driving it's not safe so therefore i thought maybe i should figure out something i uh use this as a a a not what not to do so i eventually i came up uh a pop-up sunshine which is a two metal loop so on a nylon fabrics this technology is not only uh i remember my mother have a uh a head pop up like that when she was riding a bicycle to work and i when i was in school i was working on other classes as a model making i was cutting the wood use a band saw the bandsaw is a big gigantic machine floor floor up to almost six feet tall and with the bandsaw blade i was cutting my model boom i broke the damn thing so i had to take the bandsaw blades and go to um i went to the storage tried to check up the new bandsaw blades and then the guy telling me use my tape to tape the sharp edge of the pencil roll them up and then dump to the uh trash can when i return to the counter to pick up the pencil blades guess what i'm receiving a big pizza box i open the box boom sure enough that was a bandsaw blitz blaze pencil blaze full it's the same way my sunshade fold i say man that really a cl able to do a collapsible feature from big oval big big gigantic big old yeah so jumping in so you had that and you you made the prototype i went on to build a business around it is that correct is that yes yes and i uh was able to spend some money bought the uh fabric from dupont's uh distributor in new york buffalo uh ups to my uh dormitory and i was able to go to downtown l.a also uh go to thomas guide at the time there's a manufacturer guy called thomas guy figure out where to buy the loop then shift the loop to the factory in near chinatown los angeles and then i was able to produce two thousands of them and then start selling in smart meat just near my factory no near my school in uh pasadena uh called pasadena rose bowl swap meet actually is in city of pasadena uh rose and i was selling them and boom we sold out almost 2 000 pieces the first day at the time the price point was 20 u.s while people are selling the cardboard sensory uh with a four dollar five dollar price point wow that was very encouraging ever since that the product uh uh launched i was able to learn how to make commercial packaging then i started selling in facto at a point that was a nice store of local chain as a membership store and then i was able to sell to every mail order of brookstone and uh chopper image at point at the time and hammacher schremer stock crush and they've heard it so maybe you jump into so you build a business you have the idea is part of industrial design school you come up with the idea hey let's make this foldable then we also you you figure out how to produce it you get enough funds together you leverage the knowledge of you go out start selling them on the street or you know kind of a local area i think that's awesome and you're able to slowly grow it from there do a mail order get it in some stores and so now if i were to fast forward so you know you grow the business i think it you mentioned at one point even the first year was a multi-million dollars in sales so how did you where did you leave off or when did you did you do you continue to own that today did you sell off the company or how did you go to the next leg of your journey after two years three years success uh selling automotive uh accessory which is where i categorize where the sunshade categories at and the auto multi in auto automotive after market industry is rather small in terms of accessory when not a categorized as a the rim of the tire or oils of bumpers of fenders uh interior accessories very small so i sold the business i launched a new company called playhouse use the same technology when not making shades but making uh children play tennis so and we'll jump to it so one question i have is it sounds like for those two or three years it was a fairly successful business had a lot of good sales what made you decide to you know wind that business down or to get out of it and go on to a new business what was what was the motivation for that uh transition we were able to make uh the the highest number we were doing is uh 16 million dollars uh highest uh sales number will generate and the first year we're able to generate seven million dollars just by not knowing business it's all because of product product is king if the product being recognized by the market um take a dummy like me in business uh while i'm still in in school uh try to finish my uh a master degree it it it flies uh along the the way i make shitload of mistakes as a designer as a design school student we i know nothing about business we when when the product was selling so hard in costco and price club and the buyer was screaming on the phone you better airship them i ran out of my inventory your product of flying off the shelf is all your fault i say my god it's all my fault okay i i i am taking this as a criticism or encouragement i am going to fly seven container 40 foot container uh with airship to deliver to you my god that was cost me arm and leg why about almost half years profit but again the reason i uh like to decide to sell that is in the automotive industry sunshade area there's a more than nine different knockoff company exists i file my lawsuit the first year i'm i'm in business i don't even know how can i pay pay the lawyer working so hard for me to sue everybody and then such a small industry so many knockoffs i think i better sell this to someone who have a better uh better experience in legal litigation let him kiss around with the knockoffs and then i would like to take the cash and then i go to establish another business that's a reason no that makes sense so far to almost summarize it's basically you're saying hey we were being successful it was growing but as we're growing as we were getting more traction in the marketplace we started to see knockoffs people that were copying it and while you initially tried to do the leak you know go the legal route it became it continued to knockoffs continue to grow became to the point of saying hey this isn't the bit i don't want to be in the suing business or i don't want to be in the always chasing knockoffs why don't i get out while they're getting is still good or why they you know we still have good sales we can get a good value for the company and then you go on to the next adventure so i think one of the next adventures that kind of caught my eye or that we talked a little bit before about the podcast um was that you did an action figure that uh bluetooth connected with an ipad is that right yes yes yes and that was a uh when the mobile internet uh able to uh utilize uh apple's smartphone android smartphone and kids are no longer interested into ordinary play ten or ordinary action figure besides couple uh a couple of a couple parts a body can move uh basically there's no interactive so therefore uh the interactive industry jumping in into the mobile industry every five years or four years old are able to get a ipad or a a cheap iphone in their palm in their hand to play interactive apps um so therefore the toy industry as we all recognize they're dying um ever since the uh younger generation younger kids able to get their hands on the ipad and then we designed a toys interact with a bridge the bridge interact with ipad so when the toys come into the bridge the character pop up from the ipad app or from the mobile app whether it's ipad or iphone or android smart device so that's entertaining the kids so we actually was able to develop the app game able to develop the technology able to uh launch the product uh in toys r us and amazon that's awesome no i think that's so it's interesting because i know we we've really jumped into a few of the companies because you mentioned you know you did the pop-up sunshade and then you did one the company was called playhut and then you did the action figure and even got into doing emails you know integrating video and audio products into emails and that now brings it to where you're at today with focusing on you know mobile internet and how you're doing some of the things with the mad kicks as you can see in the background and others but you know it seems like there's a lot of different industries a lot of different technology and a lot of different products that you've done so was there kind of a guiding path that you know that kind of how you decided which next business to go to or is it just hey i have a great idea and i'm going to pursue it or how did you kind of decide which business as you jumped you know move from business to business transition as to which one was your next business there's a two a major reason allow me or help me to decide to get into various industry first of all uh every uh product line every product or product line or product concept or i was able to be a little creative uh to take advantage to analyze the market and find the uh and then doing pattern research to find out if there is a way to protect myself in a legal way by utilizing the uspto services and i can use uh intellectual property protection to protect the idea so that is one thing so therefore whether it's auto motive sunshine or plate 10 playhead or the izuka smart device communicate with uh bluetooth and rfid chip to interact with the app and even today's metrix all has interlectual property protections we filed a patent uh two months ago just to protect mac kicks that's one reason every industry i want to get into it has its own uh protection uh a a advantage i can take uh which is a great country uh american is america is respect the intellectual property have a great legal system to protect invention and protect inventors so that is why americans so so good and i decide to spend my lifetime stay in this country it's it's a beautiful country to support innovation support creativity and protect the innovation protect the creativity so that's a sidetrack and the second um reason i'm going to it uh to the industry i'm choosing it i'm no longer focus my energy my resource into a traditional product but more high-tech related more technology related more internet and mobile internet related which is where the everybody going after uh as a trend or direction yes okay no i think that makes sense of the different guiding principles so now if we were to jump forward in time just a little bit so you've had several of your different companies whether started in all the way in the school and i this is an interesting parallel that's when i was doing it wasn't in industrial design but i was in mba school that's when i started my first business as well so i always applaud and i think it's a great thing to why you're in school not just simply learn but also to actually start a business and get to some real world and practical applications as opposed to simply just going through classes so i think that's great so you started out with the pop shade went through several businesses brings you up to mad kicks you're saying hey why don't we are you going to enter into the mobile internet and so maybe if you need to share a little bit you know a couple minutes on what is mad kicks what are you guys doing and how to and how did you make that transition into the mobile industry okay uh the mobile industry is also related to video technology ever since i start my video mail and and via the internet that's already video related and also internet related although i sold the technology to the company i do have a contract obligation i shouldn't be in this industry for a little bit near around 10 years now the contract obligations long gone after 2018 now i can start my business so i 2019 i was able to figure out some sort of concept but not quite knowing what i i need to do so at that time i have a quarry and i have a james which is my cto and core is my cmo to try to launch get into mobile or internet business so by by learning together by by working together they were they were able to help me to identify several success uh mobile apps can really be uh populated by the video okay although youtube is video and uh uh facebook and uh all these popular uh instagram and and snapchat now into already all go into video but the video is a way to go whether short form long-term educational entertainment or uh any other form and shape videos the way to go so i was able to utilize my uh knowledge about video and figure out if tick tock or other short form video can occupy the landscape of the market less than five three years that must be a huge demand although there is a lot of big giant whether it's microsoft amazon apple facebook google whatever everybody want to dive in this industry but they all dive in because someone's successful just let me make let us make a copy cat out of these which is not what mac kicks doing mad kicks owned by a company called asha llc we plan to develop six app four of them all related to video technology we are able to share the back and share the resource with this four apps together so that will save our development time but each app we have niche focus some are focused on uh short form video sharing some of focus on video communication some are focused on different area mac kick is the app we plan to launch first they're not only sharing the short form video by sharing the music sharing the picture and sharing the creativity so we basically built a creative create so-called create creators community to all the the intelligent borrow the creativity from open forum open community chip in to build our content not just uh after i build my content i upload it and everybody go to view hahaha they make some dong or thumb up that's it but we have our unique patented feature we'll inject it in this app will make it rather unique we make it different but again also very much available to the general public everybody can be here and can be a a contributor creator or viewer or uh able to do the social networking together okay no i think that's uh sounds like an exciting product and one thing i was interested i find interesting to talk a little bit about you know niching down or having different um you know kind of different products videos your space and you're going to you know create use video on the mobile platform but you're niching down and it was interesting because you know so i like i obviously like podcasts on my own i also like to listen to him a lot and i was listening to one that was a recent uh on a podcast called business wars and they went actually through the mobile industry but for dating apps right so you have a whole bunch of different dating apps in the mobile industry and it started out being a very broad industry it was just dating in general and now you know i don't i've been married for 13 years so honestly i have no idea what's going on in the dating industry but they talked about how you know they have ones that you know apps are now niched down for people who want to date dog lovers people that want to date you know they had everyone example or people that are clowns for an employment they had you know almost every type of niche and they were you know made i think in a great argument it's kind of what you're saying is hey there's a if there's a big industry where a lot of people are using it then you can find a lot of good niches within that industry that suits certain needs that people need it so i think that that was an interesting correlation of how you're saying hey video is going to be very big it's not going away it's continuing to grow if tick tock and others have built big companies on it let's now find the niches that they're overlooking and aren't doing as well or underserved communities and doing that so i think that's awesome well as we you know and we always have more things to do and more things to talk about and discuss than i ever have time for in the podcast we're starting to hit towards the end of the podcast but i always have two questions that i always hit on it towards the end of the podcast so maybe we'll jump to those now so the the first question i always ask is so what was the worst business decision you ever made oh my god i wasn't prepared for that answer for the question um i have a worse position situ uh the business decision i made is make the decision to continue to ship to uh supply to toys r us well after they file uh chapter 11. and then after the eventually went to uh chapter seven millions and millions and millions of dollars of inventory i can never get paid ouch oh my god both like a big hit and one that's a lesson learned that if they're going through bankruptcy it's probably time to pull the plug oh my god but well they would be they were the last um so-called uh chain store around the nation at the time they still have 670 70 stores around the nation in the us and they they they said they needed support we're not going away we are under our reorganization uh uh a stage so trust us support us i said okay because they are i i need i they work my 40 of business so therefore i keep supplying them boom multi multi million dollar um being wipeout but you know and you say that i think that's an interesting i guess trap for lack of a better word to fall into is hey they're a big client they need you know i want to support them i don't want them to go away and i don't want to you know offend them or i don't want them to take their business elsewhere if they're not going under if they're coming back and so you know kind of hey they're a big client and i wanted to keep them happy and so it's a hard one to know when to pull the plug so i think that's a good lesson learned or you know the good or an interesting mistake made so as i jump now to the second question i always ask is so if you're talking to someone that's just getting into startups and small businesses just starting out what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them um my experience is always intellectual property protection when you have a piece or in the intellectual property as a protection and that gave you a lot more leverage to negotiate market share negotiate cost of production and also carve out your own niche protect your own niche that gives you a opportunity to uh to be uh to slow down your competition or uh uh to fence out the knockoff a copycat or infringement this is uh if there is opportunity if there's a creativity try to file a legal protection to protect and even the banks sometimes will respect you to have intellectual property and then they even uh have different loan structure depends on which bank you have uh still those are very very important to a small entrepreneur no and hey you're and you're preaching to the choir so i'm i always i don't ever interject with selling or telling you know whether you need a patent or trademark within the podcast in the sense that you know i don't want to interject with their story but i'm in complete agreement that you can both get a better evaluation you can protect your business you can uh box out other competitors and there's a lot of advantages for intellectual property so you're preaching the choir on that one so well as we wrap up if people want to find out more about your businesses about mad kicks or anything else that's going on they want to invest they want to buy your product they want to work for you or anything you're all of the above what's the best way to connect with you or reach out reach out to you um my email address is brian zee at azucar.com azuka is a corporation i own and uh also running the business for us and all you can go to asha llc.com a-r-c-i-a-l-l-c dot com to reach out uh uh uh us uh we uh not only me our home management team will be able to catch the email communication or just simply uh dial a number for 909-319-7877 i have no privacy in terms of my phone number uh 20 uh like 24 7 the phone able to ring if i'm not picking up leave message or scream yell at me ask me to return phone call i will do so all right well that's all sorts of great ways as well as mad kicks dot com as well as i think is uh your website all of the above are i think great ways to reach out to yourself well awesome well thank you for coming on the podcast it's been fun to hear a bit of your journey what brought you to where you're at today and uh certainly it'll be fun to see where the next leg of your journey is um for those of you for those of you that are have your own journey to tell um feel free to apply to be on the podcast by going to inventivejourneyguest.com always are welcome interesting and fun journeys to hear um and certainly if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so you get a notification when all this episode and all the new episodes um air and lastly if you need any help with patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law we're always here to help thank you again brian it's been a pleasure it's been fun to hear your journey and good luck on the next leg of your journey well thank you very much uh keep in touch devin will do [Music] English 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