No Gadget Too Complicated

In July 2009, four students from High Point Regional High School earned first place in the United States at the Technology Student Association (TSA) National Conference in Denver for their invention to prevent the formation of bed sores in hospital patients.  While the next step taken most student groups after competitions is to store the project in a classroom or bedroom closet, these four students were challenged to take their innovation and work towards a United States patent application.

When they returned in September, the students embarked on a year long process to organize, research, and dedicate the time necessary to pursue this application.  Primary responsibilities included frequent fund-raising, daily documentation of new developments, thorough searches through Google patents, the formation of a LLC called No Gadget Too Complicated, the opening of bank accounts, and the scheduling of several meetings with local and state officials who the students thought could help them with their pursuits.  These discussions included face to face meetings with local hospital officials, local elected officials, bed sore patients, and local business owners.  Frequent Skype calls with their consultant, a venture capitalist and their judge from the TSA Conference in Denver, also took place.

With help from a New Jersey state Senator, Steven Oroho, the students connected with a patent attorney, Michael Doherty, also a state Senator, who worked with them to file the official patent application in March 2010.  The students have signed a Rights of First Agreement with Covidien, a medical company in Massachusetts who provided the final funding and support to secure the costs of the patent attorney.  The students presented at the 2010 TSA National Conference in Baltimore about their experience, at the New Jersey Technology Council Expo in April 2010, and will be featured on NJEA’s Classroom Close-up this spring.  They continue to work on their innovation today as they take the steps necessary to scale up the marketing and scope of their design.

The importance of intellectual property law and its role in our society is an important lesson as we try to develop the ingenuity of our youth.  There is no better way to learn a process such as this than to actually experience it first hand.  The students have also learned important lessons about financing and capital, the legal aspects of starting a business, and research and development, all of which should be taught more directly in our schools.

You can read more about the student team in this NJ Herald article.


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