Protecting a Good Idea and Utility

Monday, 03 August 2020   834 Views

When you find large reputable companies doing similar work as yours, you know you are doing something right. Recently, I found one such company (the third company so far) creating a remarkably similar apparatus as Skill Points ®; there are the following similarities:

  • Name of their product ‘Mastery Points’, connotes applying and mastering skills.
  • Measurements of learning (on a granular level and representing skills).
  • Achievement levels and allotments in a numerical form. Similar bars.
  • Summing points after completing the work to determine mastery.

This unequivocally proves the relevancy and value of this feature within the learning labels system, which is currently under review at the USPTO. The fact this company already fully integrated this feature into their large content distribution service is significant. They are one of the top providers of free online education and training software in the world.

(I am leaving the names of the companies anonymous and not providing the specifics of their products. I am still in a discovery process. The latest company provides a great product / service with an amazing purpose, a best-case scenario is a collaboration or sharing of resources. Though, Skill Points ® is clearly defined and referenced in 2016 and 2017 patent applications and is an integral feature of the learning label system.)

Of course, there remains some key differentiation features with Skill Points ®, some of them include:

  • 1 to 1,000,000 scale for all skills. There are five separate levels within this range.
  • Different growth rates for each skill. Calculate skill points on a skill by skill basis. Future research on understanding how skills are learned in education, higher education, and professional development.
  • Methodical (scientific) approach in using skill points to define learning and job responsibilities (like coefficients and atoms define substances).
  • Direct connection of learning expectations with job requirements. Same Skill Points are used with learning and job labels. Create learning pathways to reached desired aggregates for jobs.

All companies are constantly thinking of new ideas to cultivate their products. It is difficult to identify who and when an organization copies, pirates, or simply comes up with a similar idea. Personally, I think the best approach to get ‘credit for an idea’ is to put the idea in the public domain and get copyright privileges (maybe calibrating the release with how you choose to use or apply the idea). This article by Syracuse University illustrates releasing an idea this way: A System and Method for Tracking and Managing Skills: TCLC Helps a Rochester Entrepreneur Protect a Bright Idea

When companies copy or pirate a process or utility, there is more at stake because both entities invested their time and resources in developing and moving forward with ideas. Therefore, there are patents and trade secrets. Again, if you feel a company is copying your process or utility you developed, there is clear value in what you are doing and you should feel some flattery (at least that is what my legal team tells me).

To be clear, with the learning labels, here is the relationship between the idea and the utility:

“bright idea: create a standardized representation for learning (analogous to a label for food or resume for experiences)”… “the utility: create learning labels, define learning in skills, reference standards, measure learning with Skill Points, and deliver to an audience; a system to manage and track skills.”