Inventor Spotlights

Richard B. Himmelstein

Inventor & Entrepreneur, Founder of ReachPeople

Diverse Experience Creates Serial Entrepreneur

Self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur Richard B. Himmelstein believes in the value of a hard day’s work; it’s when a company tries to take something for nothing that really gets to him.

“The first, most important thing is to work hard. Some of what happens in your life is luck of the draw,” he said. “Sometimes you can create your own luck.”

Himmelstein is an inventor with diverse interests. Before graduating with a degree in information and systems sciences, Himmelstein was recruited by IBM to help build the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation’s original air traffic control system, working on key safety features we still rely on today, such as conflict alert and full operational redundancy.

He went on to run his own furniture company, developing some of the first software programs to vertically integrate furniture sales. But when he sold his business, he did so to focus on his true passion: inventing.

Ideas Ahead of the Curve

As an independent inventor, Himmelstein saw the value of social networking well before it crossed over into the mainstream. “One of my inventions—the use of a ‘like’ button—was disclosed in my patent before major social media platforms existed.”

But when Himmelstein decided that selling his patent portfolio was the best way to make a return on his invention, he saw firsthand how big tech companies treat an individual inventor. He had discussions with a big tech company to acquire his patents, but recalls, “I knew they were aware that they were infringing my patents. Nevertheless, their committee would not put a number on the table for buying my patents. It’s frustrating to spend years of your life and significant costs to invent and obtain patents on your inventions to only then have others use your technology without compensation.”

“Intellectual Ventures supports individual inventors by paying a fair value to buy their patents.”

He says he had a completely different experience working with Intellectual Ventures. “On the other hand, Intellectual Ventures supports individual inventors by stepping up and paying a fair value to buy their patents. It freed me up to work on new ventures.”

Now Himmelstein is worried the bold ideas of his inventions, and others’, are at risk. Current patent reform proposals are attempting to protect big companies—not the individual inventor—says Himmelstein. “It’s all politics. It’s going against me as an independent inventor. I don’t think [patent reform] is going in the right direction.” He suggests Congress look twice at any proposals that put corporate interests first and the livelihoods of independent inventors second.

Richard B. Himmelstein
"Some of what happens in your life is luck of the draw; sometimes you can create your own luck."

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