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Archives - August 2011

Update on proposed changes to U.S. patent law

August 29, 2011
By Michael J. Colitz, III, Gray Robinson, P.A.

The Tampa Bay Innovation Center recently hosted a Tech Talk session with Michael J. Colitz, III, a registered patent attorney and shareholder at Gray Robinson, P.A, who discussed changes to U.S. patent law currently being considered by Congress.  We’ve summarized the three major changes that will occur if the bill is passed.

The U.S. Congress has been seriously considering major changes to U.S. patent laws, and these changes have the potential to impact your business. If passed, the Patent Reform Act will be the most significant change to patent law since 1952. To help you decide if you need to change the way you handle your intellectual property, we’ve summarized the three major changes to patent law that are anticipated

  • The first is a change from “First to Invent” to “First Inventor to File,” which may well create a race to the Patent Office.  This change will create harmony with international standards, which have long favored a first to file as opposed to a first to invent standard.  This change will only increase the importance of a promptly filed patent application.
  • The second relates to a termination of the diversion of fees from the U.S. Patent Office to fund other governmental operations.  Going forward, it appears that these fees will remain as Patent Office revenue, allowing the Patent Office to increase its resources and   begin reducing the current backlog of approximately 700,000 patent applications.
  • Finally, the U.S. Patent Office will offer new post-grant review procedures to allow third parties to contest recently issued patents.

Keep in mind that this is only a brief summary of the Patent Reform Act, so if patent reforms will impact your business, it would be wise to consult a lawyer or do some in-depth research.


Make the Federal Bid Procurement Process Work for You

August 01, 2011
By Kevin Jans, Skyway Acquisition Solutions

Tampa Bay Innovation Center recently hosted a TECH Talk session with Kevin Jans, certified federal contracts manager and founder of Skyway Acquisition Solutions, who discussed the federal competitive bid and proposal process. We’ve summarized his five tips for becoming more successful in the federal contracting arena.

With a budget exceeding a trillion dollars, the federal market is enormous – but the barriers to entry often seem equally large. However, with an understanding of the competitive process, nearly any company can compete for, win and prosper through federal contracts. Following are Jans’ five tips for succeeding in the federal bid procurement process:

  • Be patient. Understand that the acquisition process is complex and can be slow, taking anywhere from 18-36 months to obtain the first contract. However, once a company is established as a capable small business in the high tech arena selling in the federal market, opportunities will grow.
  • Make the sales funnel as wide as possible by diversifying target government markets and finding opportunities with a number of agencies and contacts.
  • Understand the depth and breadth of the federal demand for the company’s products or services. Commit to a methodical plan to grow, beginning as a subcontractor and then a prime contractor; or begin first with a small R&D contract and then build to a competitive effort. Avoid over-reaching beyond the company’s capabilities, because a poor performance record could haunt the company’s ability to win new work in the future.
  • Understand the type of contract being bid, as this will have a significant impact on cash flow and staffing needs. Examples include Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contracts, Blanket Purchase Agreements and General Service Agreements. Each has a different approach to bidding, administering and expectation of use.
  • The federal budget only allows contracting officers to buy certain items and services with certain “types” of money, which also have different funding availability timelines.

The good news is that there are many opportunities across a broad spectrum in the technology environment, with a particularly high demand for technology that supports security, homeland defense and counter terrorism.  There is currently a greater emphasis on competition in the federal market, which creates a great opportunity for companies that know how to compete in this market.

The lesson for firms looking to enter and grow their business in the federal market, then, is to do their homework, research opportunities, select opportunities with the greatest likelihood of success, ask for professional guidance if possible and have realistic expectations about the process.

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