Entrepreneur & Inventor
Stephen Key cofounded inventRight in 2000. inventRight’s mission is to teach inventors how to commercialize their inventions. Inventors from more than 65 countries have studied his strategies. He is also the founder of Stephen Key Media.
Stephen began his education by studying economics at the University of Santa Clara. During his sophomore year, he transferred to San Jose State University and graduated with a degree in art.
He combined his interest in business with his background in art by selling his unique creations at street fairs and county fairs throughout the state of California.
In the mid 1980s, he became the Manager of Design at the startup Worlds of Wonder, which launched two innovative hit toys: Teddy Ruxpin and Lazer Tag.
Over the past three decades, he has licensed over 20 products onto the market. Taylor Swift, Michael Jordan, and Alex Trebek have endorsed his creations. He is the named inventor on more than 20 U.S. patents.
Currently, he’s part of the team responsible for launching a new sustainable packaging innovation that replaces the need to use plastic to carry beverages called Fishbone.
Innovator & Educator
Stephen Key is considered one of the world’s leading experts on product licensing and intellectual property strategy from a business perspective.
One of his most formative experiences was filing a patent infringement lawsuit against LEGO, now the largest toy company in the world, and successfully defending his portfolio of intellectual property.
He has received over 15 awards, including two Edison awards, for his novel packaging innovation Spinformation.
Stephen has lectured at Stanford University, the University of Michigan, UC Merced, the USPTO, Henry Ford Museum, World IP Forum, University of the Pacific, Cal State Fullerton, Washington University in St. Louis, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and the Economic Development Agency for Northern Ireland.
In 2017, he was a President’s Visiting Fellow at the University of Newcastle in Australia. He later taught a 10-unit course for the university entitled How to Launch a Product Without Starting a Business.
A frequent guest on topics related to innovation and licensing on podcasts, radio, and television, he has appeared on MSNBC, ABC’s Money Matters, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, and as a guest expert on the Dr Phil Show.
On his YouTube channel inventRightTV, he has published more than 700 videos about how to commercialize an invention.
His work has also appeared in TIME, The New York Times, Fast Company, Business Insider, Fox News, Yahoo Finance, IPWatchdog, and many other places.
Author & Inventor Advocate
Stephen is the cofounder of Inventors Groups of America, an organization dedicated to helping the leaders of inventing organizations across America and their members learn how to commercialize their inventions.
He is also the cofounder of inventYES, a free program for high school students worldwide to learn how to license their product ideas.
He has written five books about innovation. His best-selling book One Simple Idea from McGraw-Hill has been translated in five other languages. He is also the author of One Simple Idea for Startups & Entrepreneurs; Sell Your Ideas With or Without a Patent; Become a Professional Inventor; and Licensing Ideas using LinkedIn.
From 2018-2019, he was honored to serve as an American Association for the Advancement of Science-Lemelson Invention Ambassador.
In 2021, Mojo Nation named him as one of the 100 most influential people working in the toy and game industry.
Corporate and Non-Profit Leadership
Stephen is a founding member of United States Intellectual Property Alliance.
He serves on the Advisory Board to the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property.
He is also on the Communications Committee for the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding.
In 2022, Stephen contributed to "Cases in IP Strategy: Industry Lessons Learned" from the non-profit Michelson Institute for IP.