We were the poster child for a company that was crying out to be sued. My goodness, our first products were exact replicas (called “second sources” in the industry) of Maxim’s.
To make matters worse, Maxim was litigious. Very, very litigious.
You can develop an alternative way to do things.
I was having lunch with Matt after we sold our company. Matt, who was an executive VP at my old company, Maxim, told me they had a task force dedicated to destroying us.
“We bought some your first products,” Matt said. “We were certain you were violating our patents, so we reverse engineered how you developed the products. We saw that you had used totally different techniques than we did.”
Matt was right. We had used a totally different technology, and we used totally different techniques to develop our products.
Forcing yourself to do things differently can result in breakthroughs.
We knew (as Matt confirmed to me) that Maxim was going to scrutinize everything we did. We had to be different or we were going to get sued into oblivion.
So through struggle came innovation and opportunity. Sid, one of our most senior design engineers, came up with a novel technique that ended up being the cornerstone of our product direction for the next four years.
Your breakthroughs can result in your own set of patents.
We ended up coming up with a novel set of technologies that, in simple terms, ended up improving performance by at least 10X with an at least 10X reduction in power consumption. We ended up patenting everything we could.
More important than the patents we ended up with a bunch of winning products in the market.
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