If you want to license your invention for royalty payments, you have to deliver more than a “me too” product. Prospective companies will demand that your product exceed their standard profit goals in order to pay royalties, which represent increased expense.
Many inventors believe the way to get a company interested in their inventions is to write a letter – and then hope they receive an invitation to begin negotiations. This seldom happens.
Your licensing quest should begin by phoning and asking for your prospect’s invention submission guidelines. Know that many times unpatented inventions, or inventions without at least a patent pending, will not be accepted.
Licensing your invention is a lot easier if you can show that it’s selling. That means you have to produce a small quantity of your product. Nice idea – until you learn that a plastic injection mold costs $25,000.
Now what? Fortunately, there are options. You just have to know where to look.
Small-quantity manufacturing lies between rapid prototyping processes and volume production. To discover the processes in the low- to mid-quantity range, visit www.jobshop.com. Also search —job shop shows — on Google.com for contract manufacturers, there were about 1,000 references last time I looked.
ID: Talk about the responsibilities, burdens or benefits of having ties to Thomas Edison.
SMC: I learned that my family was linked to Edison when I was about 8. My parents gave me an Edison phonograph and a whole series of cylindrical records and paper sleeves. I had the opportunity to compare it with my contemporary record player. It prompted me to focus on change and how consumers connect with technology and in what ways and that eventually launched me on a career path with marketing.
In business and the corporate world, it’s all about who know. When bringing an invention idea to fruition, it’s all about whom you partner with. There are tangible, financial benefits to finding partners who offer services vital to your new company’s survival. These services may come from a designer, prototyper, patent lawyer or manufacturer. In other words, they bring to the table more than the deep pockets of a venture capitalist or angel investor.
For example, you were quoted $40,000 for plastic injection molds needed to manufacture your invention. You already spent $10,000 on the patent and prototype, and you cannot afford this additional cost. You have two choices: find an investment partner to cover the cost, but will subsequently want a stake. Or partner with a plastic molder who would contribute a mold and perhaps some early production in exchange for a stake of your startup.
Louis Foreman, the producer of the Emmy Award winning PBS television show Everyday Edisons and the publisher of Inventors Digest, announced in April 2011 that he was launching of a $25 million Innovation Fund. Phase 1 of the search for inventions for the Fund to invest in was completed in mid-June 2011. Phase 2 of the search for inventions and ideas has just begun and will run through Monday, September 12th, 2011.
“The Fund is off to a great start and we have received some very innovative technologies as part of the first wave,” Foreman said. “I am amazed at the creativity and ingenuity. It just reinforces our original premise that everyone has a great idea, but most people don’t follow through. The Fund has become a catalyst to submit these ideas and see if they have commercial viability.” The proceeds of the Fund which will be invested by Edison Nation to bring innovations to market. Inventors who have their inventions or ideas selected will share in any profits with Edison Nation.
Louis Foreman at Inventors HOF Induction May 4, 2011
Louis Foreman, the producer of the Emmy Award winning PBS television show Everyday Edisons, as well as the CEO of the design firm Enventys and publisher of Inventors Digest, recently announced the launching of a $25 million Innovation Fund, the proceeds of which will be used to bring innovations to market. In an interview with Foreman (see below) he explained to me that he is looking for inventions and ideas for all kinds of products, and not just the consumer products that Everyday Edisons has become known for. Foreman explains that medical devices, military and law enforcement technology, social networking innovations and even software are all desirable ideas/innovations for the Innovation Fund.
To help what might be the best ideas and inventions percolate to the top Foreman has created what he refers to as a “Patent Attorney Referral Program.” This program is designed to benefit patent attorneys and patent agents whose clients submit innovative ideas and concepts. This isn’t one of those unethical referral programs though, so no worries there. If a client of a patent attorney or patent agent is selected and accepts the offer of assistance from the Innovation Fund then the patent attorney or patent agent representing that inventor will be retained by the Innovation Fund to provide the legal services required to pursue patent rights.
Yesterday from the floor of the Senate, while debating whether the Senate should pass patent reform bill S. 23, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) cited a letter from Louis Foreman in support of patent reform, which was entered into the record without objection. The name Louis Foreman is well known to those in the inventor community. Foreman is the publisher of Inventors Digest, the Executive Producer of Everyday Edisons, an inventor himself and a serial entrepreneur.
Foreman, who supports patent reform efforts generally and S. 23 specifically, started his first business as a sophomore in college twenty years ago. He has successfully started 8 business in that twenty year period and has been an integral part of twenty additional ventures. Foreman has ten U.S. patents and his firm, enventys, has helped develop and file for another 400 patents. This experience easily has shown Foreman, in his own words, that “the USPTO is hampered by a system that is in dire need of reform.”
Top: Ken Bloemer, Cathie Kirik, Louis Foreman, Warren Tuttle. Bottom: John Calvert, Art Fry, George Peters, Michael Diep.
This week I attended the 15th Annual Independent Inventors Conference at the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia. During this event I was able to interact with many independent inventors, many individuals that work within the IP community and many employees of the USPTO, including USPTO Director David Kappos, Commissioner for Patents Robert Stoll, Deputy Commissioner for Patents, Peggy Focarino, Chief Communications Officer and Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary Peter Pappas, Administrator of the Inventors Assistance Program John Calvert and Cathy Kirik of the Inventor’s Assistance Program. There were speakers from both the IP community and the USPTO on topics pertinent to this audience, including the inventor of the Post It Note, Art Fry. The attendees were given the opportunity to attend different educational break out sessions that were meant to educate the independent inventor on the entire patent process. Following is an overview of the morning sessions of day one that were open to all attendees.
Day one began with Richard Maulsby from the Office of Public Affairs at the USPTO greeting all of the attendees that was meant to give them an overview of what they could expect from the next two days of the event. All of the morning sessions were open to all attendees followed by break out sessions later in the day where the attendees were able to choose the sessions they wanted to attend. Most of the sessions were repeated throughout the event, so that the attendees would not have to forego one topic session to attend another.
Louis Foreman is the creator, executive producer and lead judge of the Emmy® award-winning PBS reality show Everyday Edisons, which features ordinary people transforming their original ideas into retail products. Foreman is also Chief Executive of Enventys, an integrated product design and engineering firm with offices in Charlotte, NC and Taiwan, as well as the publisher of Inventors Digest, the largest and oldest publication for the inventor community. He is also co-author of The Independent Inventor’s Handbook. Foreman is an inventor himself, holding 10 US patents. So it is fair to say that few people know the trials and tribulations of independent inventors better than Louis does, and Louis Foreman supports patent reform.
Earlier today, Foreman sent the letter reproduced below to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is the Senate Judiciary Committee that has pending before it S. 515 relating to patent reform. As his letter explains, Foreman supports patent reform because “leaving the current system alone is not an option, nor does it benefit anyone.” Foreman believes the pending patent reform is a “significant improvement” because, among other things, it will lower fees for micro-entities and because it will “ultimately result in a stronger patent making it easier for independent inventors and small businesses to attract start-up capital.”
I applaud Popular Mechanics for tackling the under-covered issue of patent reform in Inventors Slam Patent Reform Effort. However, I disagree with some of the magazine’s assertions.
Regarding first-to-invent vs. first-to-file, PM says:
FTI theoretically allows an inventor to sit on an idea for years, gradually improving it until he or she is ready to file. FTF eliminates that strategy, making it impossible to dispute a patent or application once it’s filed. There’s no guarantee that the first person to file will necessarily land a patent, but FTF closes the window of opportunity to attack that first, successful filing.
The proposed reform calls for a post-grant review process – itself controversial because some believe larger companies will be able to tie up patents with so-called serial challenges. The bill provides the ability to challenge the patent in a post-grant-review proceeding for one year following issuance based on a broad array of grounds related to patentability.