How the first patent I filed resulted in a successful partnership
The year was 1999.
We were about to start a new century. Everybody was thinking about the Y2K, Napster had launched, people started buying colorful iBooks, I bought my first DVD to replace my old VHS, and Bill Gates was named the wealthiest person in the world.
We were just starting to realize how important the tech industry would be in the next century.
But most importantly, I filed my first patent. It was before I opened my own company.
If you’re wondering why this is relevant to you, let me tell you that this patent enabled a million-dollar-partnership that would bring mobile Internet to the phones of thousands of Israelis.
This is the story.
I was living in Israel, having emigrated from the US. I had already worked as a patent agent and I wanted to keep supporting innovators by protecting their ideas. Exalink, an Israeli company, was innovating in the WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) space. They had the most comprehensive network platform for the delivery of Internet-based services to WAP-enabled and IP-based mobile devices.
In short, they had an innovation that would let people browse the internet through mobile networks from their phones. Remember back in ’99 you had to listen to this annoying sound every time you wanted to connect to the internet and you could just do it from a computer.
We take it for granted today, but back then, being able to browse the Internet from your phone was unheard of!
And it was then when our paths crossed.
I’m sorry that I can’t exactly remember who connected us, but somehow, Rony Zarom, the CEO of Exalink was recommended to work with me.
We met to discuss his idea. And, more than just talking about his idea, we started discussing how his patent strategy would look like. Remember that filing for a patent is not just about protecting from other copying it, it’s a business decision. And, just like any business decision, you can’t just wing it.
I was really excited about his idea. I was sure it would be a game-changer and I wanted to help them protect it in all ways possible!
I think my enthusiasm and knowledge were noticeable because they agreed to work with me.
We filed for a patent-pending RT-PACE (Real-time Conversion Engine) technology, and the rest is history.
The strategy worked because one year later, in 2000, this patent allowed Exalink to start a cooperation with Partner Communications. Partner Communications was an Orange wireless network operator. And it’s not a small thing, Partner Communications was one of the largest cellular operators in Israel, they were the only ones that provided GSM service!
This partnership enabled more than 350,000 people to browse the Internet from their mobile devices. And what’s more, people could access all Internet services in Hebrew, which was a big plus for users at that time.
On the one hand this patent made the world, or at least a part of it, a better place for the people living in it. On the other hand, it was a fantastic business decision.
I already knew that patents were much more than just protection from copycats, but it was here when it really sank in how having a strong patent strategy would help a business grow.
Although we kept working together and I filed more patents for them, I’ll never forget that first one.
Sometime later I established my own business, and from that day on, I’ve helped file more than 20k patents. And, as for Exalink, Rony Zarom sold the company for 550 million dollars, just 18 months after he had established it.
And that’s the story of how I truly learned about the power of patents.