Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019 - 58

FOCUS

ADVANCED TEXTILES

invention and understand where it fits in the
overall ecosystem, which means understanding
the market, partnerships you can make and
finding trusted collaborators that will help you
bring your product to market," Papadopoulos
says. "Having a good road map on how to
go from prototype to production is very
important, as well as testing all aspects of your
product at each step of the process.
"At the end of the day, only you know how
great your invention is and all the details, and
the better you can communicate them to the
legal team, the better they can represent you."

ONE OF THE BIGGEST
THINGS IS KNOWING
WHERE YOU'RE
GOING TO BE, AS
OPPOSED TO WHERE
YOU'RE AT TODAY.
JEREMY WALL, LUMENUS

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58 REVIEW MAY 2019

15 pending, an IP portfolio that he has been
overseeing since 2009.

Clare King is president of Pawtucket,
R.I.-based Propel LLC, a womenowned and run company that
develops, sells and markets
innovative, textile-driven technologies.

Matt Kolmes has something of an advantage:
He began his career as an intellectual property
law attorney. He closed his law practice in
2007, but is still in a unique position to offer
advice to innovators in the textile industry.
First things first: "Even if you are on a
tight budget, file that provisional application
immediately before you show your idea to
anyone or talk about it with anyone," he
cautions. "Then always leave 50 percent of the
invention a trade secret so that when the patent
runs out, your idea cannot be duplicated."
But "only protect what is protectable," he
says. "If you made something new and great,
but it is really simple to copy, you probably do
not want to file for patents everywhere on it,
unless you have the capital and the intention
to defend that invention."
Kolmes also urges entrepreneurs to do
their homework in preparation for working
with an attorney. "Have all data, testing,
diagrams, photos prepared in advance," he
says. "Be ready with a Dropbox link with
all the collateral ready to go. Be responsive
to your lawyer's requests for additional
documents and/or testing. As an owner and
inventor, you need to know everything you
can about the process. When you leave it up
to someone else, even a highly competent
attorney can only ask you your intentions
and give you advice. They cannot make up
your mind for you."

Clare King had the advantage of once
working for a company that had two patent
attorneys in-house. Working closely with
one in particular helped her to "understand
the landscape."
Her company does a lot of work for the U.S.
military. "Working with DoD [Department of
Defense], you get a lot of training," she says. But
patenting is only one part of protecting your IP,
and being a part of a Navy transition program
has helped her understand a variety of IP issues:
"What to make public and what not to, the
difference between trade secrets, knowing how
and what's worth patenting" are among them.
"You don't just hand it over to an attorney,"
she says. There are patent attorneys who take
what you have and figure out how to patent
it; others will figure out how to best maintain
what you have to create the greatest value for
the company.
"Patent law is very different from any
other way of thinking," she says, and patent
lawyers are expensive. "The more you can
learn about how a patent is constructed, the
less expensive it will be."
It's also important to teach employees
what IP is and how to handle it. In fact,
patenting is only one part in how a company
manages and protects IP. "If an employee
leaves, you need to be careful that they don't
take it with them," she says.
Her company recently hired a new IP
firm that will come in once a quarter and
stay a half-day. "It's like a time-out in your
business; it makes you think differently about
where the business might go next and how
we would align the business, based on what
we should or should not be doing," she says.
It's a good time to be an entrepreneur in
this industry, she says. "There's an explosion
in R&D, particularly in the high-end specialty
textiles business. It's pretty exciting."

Kolmes adds that his company, Supreme
Corp., has 95 current patents and another

Janet Preus is senior editor
of Advanced Textiles Source.

Matt Kolmes is CEO of VOLT Smart
Yarns, a division of Supreme Corp. in
Conover, N.C., a producer of highly
conductive yarn for smart textiles.


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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019

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