Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Patent Licensing – The Ultimate Guide

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Patent Licensing Info Guide

Patent licensing is considered one of the most viable means of commercializing a patent. In short, a patent holder seeking to license his patent will not exploit it himself. That is, he will not try to create, market, and sell anything based on the patent. Instead, he will market the patent itself to those who do wish to take those steps. Any variation of this is known as “licensing a patent.” However, it is best to know some facts about licensing patents before one rushes to do so, or assumes that licensing is a “set it and forget it” means of cashing in on their intellectual property.

What is Patent Licensing?

Legally speaking, you have licensed your patent when you (the licensor) grant exploitation rights over your patent to a licensee (the person you are licensing it to.) “Exploitation rights” simply means the right to create, market, and/or sell something based on what that patent protects. A license of this nature is also a legal contract, and that contract is what will spell out in concrete terms precisely which exploitation rights are being granted. These include any performance obligations the licensor might demand of the licensee. This means that if any performance obligations are included in the contract (ie, “You must produce X number of sales by the year X.”), and they are not met, this could lead to the patent licensing being terminated in its entirety. In this context, a license is also revocable – ie, cancellable – if certain terms and conditions are not met. This is a common characteristic of legal contracts in general, with special ramifications for patent licenses. The only way to grant someone irrevocable exploitation rights, it should be added, is to assign them the patent. Assignments, however, are permanent. They entail the sale or outright transfer of the patent by the assignor to the assignee. An in-depth exploration of patent assignments is beyond the scope of this article, but just know that they are an option if irrevocable exploitation rights are something you seek.)

Patent Licensing: How to Capitalize

Now that you know what patent licensing is and what it involves, we can move on to a discussion of how to capitalize on them financially. The primary means of doing this is to seek royalties from the licensee in exchange for using your patent. Royalties, typically, are paid over the life of the patent. The amount and frequency with which royalties are paid from licensee to licensor must also be spelled out in the license agreement. In this way, the licensor is protected. If the licensee fails to pay the royalties that were agreed to, the licensor can revoke the patent license and retain sole exploitation rights over it.

Patent Licensing Structures

Here is an example of how this might work in practice. Let us say you licensed your patent to someone in exchange for royalties amounting to 20% of all sales resulting from your patent on a yearly basis. If your licensee creates something from the patent that results in a profit of $100,000, you would be entitled, by the terms of your license agreement, to $20,000 of that profit. If the licensee failed to disburse those funds to you, he/she would be in violation of the agreement and you could then proceed to revoke the license. (Again, the danger with using patent assignments over patent licenses is that failure to pay royalties will not revoke the rights you have already assigned. You will be free to litigate for the lost royalties, but this is often an expensive and lengthy process. With a patent license, the matter is more or less open and shut. Failure to pay royalties means revocation of the license.) Now, some more elaboration on performance options is in order as well. Performance options are a form of protection for the licensor. They are a way to ensure that the licensee does not “sit on” the patent, ie, do nothing with it and thereby starve the licensor of the ability to capitalize on it elsewhere. There are two basic types of performance options that can be written into a patent license agreement.

Patent Licensing Performance Options

The first kind is pre-market entry milestones. In short, these are obligations that the licensee is expected to achieve or meet. They could include things like bringing the invention under a trial or validation process, creating a working prototype, satisfying pertinent regulations, progressing through any clinical trials that exist, and so forth. These performance obligations ensure that things move along at a steady pace without any income-killing lag in activity. It prevents the licensee from become inactive as a rights holder. The second kind of performance obligations are post-market entry sales targets. These take effect once the invention is out of the development stage and available for sale on the market. Very simply, such obligations include sales targets, profit margins, or any other measurable goal tied to the performance of the idea in the free marketplace. These obligations give the licensee concrete goals that he must attain and give the licensor a bare minimum of royalties that he can expect to reap.

Other Recommended Patent Licensing Articles:

In closing, licensing a patent is one of the most reliable ways to capitalize off of one’s intellectual property. By working with a patent lawyer to draft a patent license agreement and choosing your licensee(s) carefully, you will greatly increase your chances of successfully licensing your patent. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at ericcorl@ideabuyer.com.

Someday is Not a Day of the Week

Monday, September 21st, 2009

SomedayIn inventing, few ideas are more comforting – and more dangerous – than “someday.” To the inventor with a product in mind, the concept of “someday” becomes a security blanket, allowing him to endlessly theorize about his idea and safeguarding him from responsibility for bringing it to market. After all, if you start now – the reasoning goes – any number of things could go wrong…and then your product might fail. Or perhaps friends and relatives denounce inventing as a frivolous hobby. So instead, the wait for “someday” continues, and the project is postponed until the inventor finally musters up the courage to see his product as a defensible goal worthy of serious pursuit. But for some inventors (perhaps many),”someday” never comes. So what happens to them? This is a question worth exploring.

Well, for one thing, they don’t become failures. In this narrow sense, their decision to indefinitely wait has succeeded in making it absolutely impossible to fail. But is this really something to be proud of? Only by Homer Simpson’s cynical “I find that trying is the first step toward failure” logic can this be considered a success. The truth is that most inventors who don’t try are not happy with their decision. Some try to forget about it by consciously avoiding thoughts of the dream they did not pursue. Others experience regret more intensely, living each day with the deep awareness that they gave up on themselves. It’s not a fun feeling, and for some it never fully disappears.

But enough psychologizing. I think we can safely assume that you don’t want any of that. You would rather know that despite all risk, uncertainty or criticism, you gave your invention an honest-to-God chance. Perhaps it isn’t fear holding you back, but simple confusion about where to start. After all, conceiving of an entirely new product, developing said product and bringing it to market is hardly a routine matter. It is very tempting to look at such a lofty goal and conclude “little old me could never do all of that.” However, this is exactly the type of fearful thinking that “someday” feeds off of. If you are going to make a serious go of this, you need to replace that thinking with bold practicality. Instead of succumbing to complexity, determine specifically what a given thing actually requires you to do. This nearly always involves breaking down huge goals like “develop my product” into smaller steps that do not boggle the mind.

With this in mind, IdeaBuyer would like to offer the new or timid inventor a “roadmap” that will make the huge goal of new product development less intimidating. Think of these steps as stages that any successful inventor passes through. As you read them, ask which stage you are currently in what it would take to keep going.

Step 1) Define your product

Step 1 is where inventors consumed by the “someday” bug never depart from – defining your idea. Nevertheless, it is the critically important step that forms the foundation of everything else. If your product exists in your mind as a jumbled mess of “neat ideas” or things that would “be pretty cool”, it will be tough for you to focus or advance the idea in any meaningful way. The reason is that our brains rely heavily on schemas to motivate us and keep us moving. It has been proven, for example, that students who see college as the centerpiece of a passionately sought-after career of their choosing get better grades than those who simply see college as a vaguely important chore. For the same reason, inventors who begin each day with a crisp, clear vision of what they are trying to create have an inestimable advantage over those less certain.

It therefore pays tremendously to define your idea as best you can at this early stage.

Step 2) Determine demand for your product

This step is somewhat less fun, but just as crucial as the first. You must determine whether there is demand for your product. The reason, simply enough, is that even the best product won’t sell if nobody wants to buy it. And few things are worse than pouring months or years into creating something with no demand. Luckily, there is an effective way to reduce this risk – market research. IdeaBuyer has an extensive, free article on that here. Read it and follow its advice.

Step 3) Patent your product
If your product survives the “market research test” – that is, you can give plausible reasons why people want it and identify who those people are – the next step is filing for patent protection. Be careful however! Work with a patent attorney who has experience working with products in your industry and steer clear of the large invention marketing companies so eager to charge you to review your invention.

Step 4) Develop a prototype of your product
The next step following patent protection is to develop a prototype of your product. Understandably, this is something you may or may not be able to do yourself. Not every inventor possesses the skills to literally create what he envisions from physical materials and drawings. Fortunately, this is not necessary. There are firms you can hire to do the bulk of this work for you, under your guidance and according to your specifications. IdeaBuyer’s “Turning Ideas Into Profits” and experienced engineers can draft up industry-standard technical drawings and develop physical and virtual prototypes based on them. This is when your idea begins to really take shape.

Step 5) Decide upon a commercialization strategy for your product
When it comes to inventing, there’s more than one way to skin the cat. Many inventors wish to carry their product all the way through completion and get it onto store shelves. This is a perfectly good strategy and one you should certainly investigate. Other strategies include licensing your patented product to someone else (say, a manufacturer or retailer) who will do all of that themselves and pay you royalties. Should the latter strategy appeal to you, visit our article onPatent Licensing and learn more about the process. For all others, continue on to steps 6 and 7.

Step 6) Find a manufacturer (if your strategy is to sell product in stores)
Finding a manufacturer to mass-produce your invention is no simple task. A new inventor with little or no industry experience may feel overwhelmed by the sheer newness of this goal and lack a firm direction on how to accomplish it. Our engineers can assist with prototype development and have valuable, long-standing connections with manufacturers who can produce your invention on a wide scale.

Step 7) Sell the product
Finally, it comes time to sell the product, either online, in stores, or otherwise. This too can seem bewilderingly complicated, but remember to think pragmatically – what does it really involve? IdeaBuyer has a free article called “Getting Your Invention on Store Shelves Within 30 Days” that begins to answer this question. We recommend everyone check it out before getting started on this step. Of course, IdeaBuyer also works one-on-one with inventors on connecting them with interested retailers and manufacturers. We are happy to talk with anyone who thinks their invention might be ready for prime time.

Someday is not a day of the week
Above all, remember our earlier discussion about someday – and remember that it is not a day of the week. Those who stake all their hopes and dreams on “someday” typically find that life has passed them by, leaving little more than longing for what might have been. Don’t be one of those people! Instead, use this road map as your guide, and remember these timeless words regarding criticism and big dreams.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Stand Out From the Crowd

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Have you ever looked around and wondered, in amazement, why everyone seems to be living the same life? Tragically, many people are content to become cogs in larger machines or groups of people. They become mere microcosms of the dominant attitudes and trends around them that they never stop to scrutinize or question. There are two kinds of people, however, who do not mindlessly submit to this corporeal of sameness. The first kind of person rebels against it, but in relatively benign and meaningless ways. They might dress flamboyantly or oppose trends for the sake of opposing them, but in substance there is very little to separate them from the common man. In reality they are entirely dependent on other people. Others shape their attitudes, but in reverse.

The second, much smaller group responds differently. They look around in horror, slam their fist on the desk and decide that they are not going to go through life as another schlep nobody. They are going to stand out from the crowd in a meaningful way.

 How do they do it? They stand out by taking a completely first-handed posture in the world. They accept responsibility for forming the beliefs at the core of their being and become an uncompromisable expression of their vision. Standing out is, in the words of fictional hero Howard Roark, “living as though you were the first man born.” It is achieving a radical independence of mind.

 In the eye-opening book “Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist”, philosophy professor Tara Smith offers some insight:

“An independent person seeks neither his direction, his conclusions, nor his satisfaction from the views of others. He does not act for the sake of others in any way. Others are not his compass. Reality is.”

This kind of attitude naturally leads to standing out from the crowd, for the simple reason that so few live this way. So engrained is the herd mentality, so pervasive is the sameness that the man who charts his own course is a violent jolt out of the norm. That being said, here are some practical ways to employ this attitude in the service of your efforts to stand out.

Make your views known instead of accepting the status quo.

When it is appropriate, feel free to dissent from the prevailing viewpoint in a debate or argument. If the popular opinion around the office is that universal healthcare is the greatest thing since the New Deal, speak up in protest. If you know government healthcare leads to rationing and violates the rights of doctors, saying so will make you stand out immediately. If you give an impassioned plea for the glory of the free market, you will distance yourself from those who consider this cruel and heartless.

This does not mean that you should go looking for excuses to make a scene. It means that if you genuinely dissent from some popular viewpoint, you should feel no shame in saying so.

Live by your stated convictions and beliefs.

We live in a very hypocritical society. On the one hand, Hollywood glorifies the hero who holds true to his convictions against all odds. On the other, we hear from our leaders and cultural spokesmen that we live in a “complex world” where principled action is “simplistic.” However, this is not true. The masses of people who think that are confining their vision to the immediate moment. They are ignoring the broader consequences of their actions; in fact, they pretend that no such consequences exist. The standout man is the one who realizes that this is not true.  He is the man who knows that caving in to an irrational spouse’s or employer’s demands only fuels them and encourages them to grow. He is the man who realizes that living by a code of principles is the only honorable and practical way to live. Staying true to principles like honesty, integrity, and independence in the face of societal or institutional pressure will set you apart from the crowd in a huge way.

Center your life on a purpose that fulfills you.

Another tenet of the follow-the-crowd orthodoxy is the general lack of purpose or direction in people’s lives. The unwashed masses delight in pointlessly drifting from one unfulfilling day to the next until their lives have, as E.L. Kersten writes, “Faded into the obscurity and irrelevance they have earned.” For this reason, the man or woman who lives each day in purposeful pursuit of a vision or dream will always stand out from the crowd. He is a walking, talking statement that the only meaning of life is the meaning you choose to give it. This is a sharp contrast to the general crowd, who is more than happy to let someone who seems astute enough render an opinion or direction for them. It is a bold departure from the hopeless “oh well, whaddaya gonna do?” logic that keeps most of humanity running in place.

When you get right down to it, standing out from the crowd is really a matter of following your own vision. Do that and you will be standing out in more ways than you ever dreamed possible.

Keep Going – Don’t Give Up

Monday, February 25th, 2008

These words are easy to say, but not always so easy to do. Nowhere is this truer than in your fight to invent something new or grow a prevailing business. As you strive to bring your vision to life, you will face countless obstacles and barriers to success. These obstacles can take on many different shapes and forms. Whether it is someone stealing your ideas, business partners flaking out, or even loved ones leaving you behind, the life of a creator is an ongoing test of wills. Can you learn to see the beauty in struggle and persist toward the life you desire?

The world of literature offers an inspiring example of what this attitude means in practice. In the groundbreaking novel “The Fountainhead”, readers meet an architect named Howard Roark. A few years into his career, Roark is alone, struggling financially, and consigned to working in an obscure rock quarry while his corrupt colleague basks in fame and prestigious assignments. While these circumstances are enough to reduce anyone to hopelessness and despair, Roark heroically refuses to give up. His reason?

“Throughout the centuries, there were men who took first steps down new roads, armed with nothing with their own vision. The great creators – the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors, stood alone against the main of their time. Every new thought was opposed, every new invention was denounced. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered, and they paid – but they won.”

By staying true to his vision, Roark persisted through his temporary hardships and ultimately triumphed in his chosen field. If you want to keep going, you need to become a man of unborrowed vision yourself.  But how can you do what Roark did? It’s one thing for a fictional character to inspire us to great things. It is another for a real flesh-and-blood person to actually do so. Fortunately, history is filled with strong-willed men and women who have done just that. Their larger-than-life stories offer us both wisdom and encouragement to keep going when we know that we should.

One of the most inspiring stories of all belongs to Steve Jobs. Most of us know Jobs as the high-flying founder of Apple, the man who brought us the iPod, iMac, and every movie to come out of Pixar’s studios. But in 1986, Jobs was anything but. Exiled from the company he started, Jobs found himself alone and for the first time in his life, without a purpose. Jobs offers a rare personal glimpse into this dark period of his life in a commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005.

“I was lucky; I found what I wanted to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years, Apple had gone from just the two of us in a garage, into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation, the Macintosh, a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.”

If we stop the story there, many of us would envy Jobs. How many people can say that they found the work they love and achieved that type of success at such a young age? However, the story does not end there. Jobs continues:

“And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew, we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me. And for the first year or so, things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge, and eventually, we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him. And so at 30 I was out – and very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I didn’t really know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down, that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with the board and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure and I even thought about running away from the valley.”

Here, we see Jobs at rock-bottom. The fruit of a life’s labor gone in the blink of an eye. A gaping void where a beaming pride and sense of direction once was. Against such crushing odds, a lesser person might have simply given up and resigned to failure. Not Jobs.

“But something slowly began to dawn on me: I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I’d been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over. I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. During the next 5 years I started a company named NeXt, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXt, and I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXt is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laureen and I have a wonderful family together.

Sometime’s life’s gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

SRC: http://youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA

Like Roark, Jobs was a man of unborrowed vision. Cast off from all of his material success and legacy, he retained what no outside force could take away: his intransigent love of what he did. There is a lesson here that every person should learn. It is not your social status, possessions, or professional ability that makes you who you are. They are important, but they are only effects, not causes. They are the just rewards of an attitude, of the refusal to let any hardship tame the fire of your passion and hold you down.

So, if you find yourself staring down impossible odds, keep going. Don’t give up.

  Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of IdeaBuyer.com, the online marketplace for intellectual property that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com.

The Power of Focus

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

If you aspire to high achievement, focus is a power from which you cannot abstain. Inventing something new, bringing a product to market, and authoring your own destiny are not things that you luck into by chance. If you are to reach these plateaus, you must do it consciously, with full focus and awareness of what your goals require. But what is focus, exactly?

The achievement-celebrating philosopher Ayn Rand offers an excellent definition of the mechanics of focus:

In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one’s consciousness is volitional. Man can focus his mind to a full, active, purposefully directed awareness of reality—or he can unfocus it and let himself drift in a semiconscious daze, merely reacting to any chance stimulus of the immediate moment, at the mercy of his undirected sensory-perceptual mechanism and of any random, associational connections it might happen to make.

When man unfocuses his mind, he may be said to be conscious in a subhuman sense of the word, since he experiences sensations and perceptions. But in the sense of the word applicable to man—in the sense of a consciousness which is aware of reality and able to deal with it, a consciousness able to direct the actions and provide for the survival of a human being—an unfocused mind is not conscious.

Psychologically, the choice “to think or not” is the choice “to focus or not.”

If you want to succeed, you need to focus. You need to focus your mind to a “full, active, purposefully directed awareness of reality.” One way to begin doing this is to spend some time thinking about it. This seems obvious, but is often taken for granted. How often do you make time to sit down and think about what really matters to you? This is important if you want to achieve a state of focus. After all, you cannot focus without something to focus on. However, you need to be careful to ensure that you focus in the right way.

In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey reveals that there are actually two kinds of focus. The first (the good kind), he calls “proactive focus.”

“Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.”

This is the kind of focus you want to exercise: rational, healthy focus aimed at what you can and should change. The other kind of focus is called “reactive focus.”

“Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.”

Now, let’s compare each type of focus with a practical example. We will assume you are an inventor and you are competing with another inventor for a spot on Wal-Mart’s shelves. Here is how a person applying proactive focus might approach the competition.

“Gee, this sure is gonna be tough. If I don’t land this spot, it might mean going back to the drawing board. However, I am not going to let that cloud my thoughts. I know my product is valuable. I am confident in it. If I really flesh my presentation out, I have a pretty good chance of beating this other guy. Therefore, I’m not even going to think about what if I lose or what my competitor is doing. All I can control is how my invention and I come across to the store reps. Time to get working on it.”

This is the type of focus you want to achieve. Notice that this person has blocked out all kinds of irrelevant thoughts – the downsides of losing, any advantages his competitor might have, etc. His sole concern is making his invention look as good as possible. Now, let’s look at how a person exercising reactive focus might think about the same situation.

“Arg, this is going to be so hard. If I don’t land this spot, it’s game over for me. Why should I even try? This other guy has way more money than me. We can’t all get an inheritance and a huge staff to work with. How can little old me compete with all of that? Ugh..whatever. I guess I’ll go in there and sling mud at the wall and hope it sticks.”

This person is focused too, but on the wrong things. Dwelling on how much money the other inventor has or his huge staff does nothing to move the goal closer to realization. All it does is squander the inventor’s precious energy on irrelevant matters. Meanwhile, the proactively focused inventor is locked in on the things that matter, tirelessly pursuing the best within him and doing all that is within his power to succeed.

This, in a nutshell, is what focus is. It is a state of mind where you resolve to let nothing stand between your ambitions and their uncompromising achievement.

Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of IdeaBuyer.com, the online marketplace for intellectual property that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com.

Your Competition Never Sleeps

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Idea CompetitionThe world of business and inventing is cutthroat to say the least. When it comes to creating new products, everyone with a serious stake in the process knows that time is of the essence. The reason for the frantic pace lies in something called the first-mover advantage. According to Wikipedia:

First-mover advantage is the advantage gained by the initial occupant of a market segment. This advantage may stem from the fact that the first entrant can gain control of resources that followers may not be able to match.

There are several advantages that can be gained from entering first:

  • Scarce resources can be preempted, e.g. occupation of prime retail locations
  • The ability to register patents and trademarks that will protect the first entrant from future competition.
  • Changing the economics of the market in a way that second entrants will not have an economic justification to enter.
  • Early profits can be re-invested in improving the resource base.
  • Reputation will likely have the advantages that come from suppliers, distributors and customers who are familiar with and loyal to their products.

Those are some pretty hefty advantages for first-movers. With all of this being the case, is it any wonder that competition is so fierce? This is where the saying “your competition never sleeps” comes from. It is an immutable law of business has been operating and will operate so long as there is business to be conducted and profit to be made. So what should you do about it? The best defense is to protect your secrets, get to market as fast as you can and protect yourself once you arrive. Fortunately, there are some savvy, common sense steps you can take to achieve this.

1) Secure intellectual property protection

One effective way of shielding yourself from fast-working competitors is to get a patent, trademark, or copyright for your invention. Most likely, a patent will be what you are going for. The chief benefit of having a patent is that it gives you the right to stop others from capitalizing on what you have the patent for. Therefore, if you have invented a new, lighter and more puncture-resistant bicycle tire that utilizes new rubber alloys and aerodynamic formulas, you can secure patent protection and, in effect, retain the sole rights to capitalize on those things. Clearly, this is one way to make competing with you a less attractive prospect for anyone who was planning on it. However, you probably will not succeed in getting a patent unless you..

2) Create a prototype

The United States Patent and Trademark Office requires that you produce some actual, tangible embodiment of your idea before you can receive a patent for it. For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to create one. But the other important reason to create a prototype is that it gets you from dreaming to doing. Ask yourself this question, and be honest with yourself: if your competitor has a prototype already and you do not, which one of you is likely to reach the market first? All else equal, the answer is obvious. Once you reach the prototype stage, you are much closer to that glorious day when your creation reaches paying customers. And rest assured; your competitors know this and know it well. You would do well to make creating a prototype your number one priority in your day to day efforts.

3) Negotiate exclusive agreements with vendors

Once you are ready to hit the market, see if you can get creative with your vendors. If you are selling via the web, for example, you may be recruiting affiliates to sell for you. Promise them an extra cut if they abstain from selling competing products alongside yours. If you are selling in stores, the same principle applies. Many vendors can be talked into an exclusive relationship with you if the price is right. This is one reason that Microsoft holds such a dominant position in the operating systems market, and you can benefit from a similar approach. If you can secure some type of exclusive agreement, you will make it that much harder for competitors to crowd in on your target market and take away your hard-fought sales!

4) Get your partners to sign NDAs

If you have partners or employees, you should get them to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements whenever possible. Although they are not airtight, they legally compel those who sign them to keep your secrets under wraps from anyone that you do not explicitly authorize. If anything goes awry down the road, you will have the early workings of a case against them, perhaps even the ability to seek damages. In the best case scenario, the NDA will simply function as it was intended: to keep your private information under wraps.

Follow these simple tips and, you will be armed for the never-ending battle of speed, wits, and savvy with your competitors.

Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of IdeaBuyer.com, the online marketplace for intellectual property that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com.

Selling Your Patent

Friday, January 4th, 2008

A Simple Guide to Selling Your Patent, Selling a Patent, Sell a Patent

Selling Your Patent Selling a patent can be a great way to turn stagnant but valuable intellectual property into cash. Selling a patent is a great option for those who don’t necessarily have the resources to bring a product to market themselves yet can show the potential the patent would have if produced and marketed. This article discusses how to increase your chances of selling your patent and provides a basic education on the subject.


Selling A Patent: Critical Elements

To sell a patent, it is critical that one can demonstrate that it is valubale, that potential customers are interested in it, and have an idea of how much they want to receive in exchange for the patent. It is also critical that the patent is presented for sale to companies in a professional manner and for what it is; a business opportunity. While selling a patent can get complicated, that is a good problem to have. The key is to market your patent as much as possible and get interested parties to the table. It is better to fire and then aim rather than get locked into paralysis analysis. If companies do not know about your patent, they cannot make you an offer or plan on putting the product into their product line. Get out there and do what it takes to reach companies.

Selling Your Patent: Sacrifices

That said, there are some potential drawbacks to selling. After all, what if it becomes a huge hit? More concretely, what if you sell your patent for $100,000 and it generates $10,000,000 in profits for the new owner? This is a very real possibility that you must reckon with before selling. For many people, this possibility is enough to scare them (irrationally) into rejecting perfectly good offers and holding onto their patent indefinitely. However, you can and should make this decision intelligently. Think long and hard about your idea. Is it so innovative, so groundbreaking, so over-the-top revolutionary that it is going to redefine an industry? Or are there similar products out there for sale already? In the former case, you might want to hold on to your idea or hold out for a higher sum. In the latter case, however, you need to realize that as the intellectual property ages it could become worth less money and you could be missing out on big opportunities. Our recommendation is to also consider licensing if you are interested in future profits (There are many companies that are open to licensing as it provides less up front cash and puts some of the risk on the patent owner. Licensing your patent grants exploitation rights to a licensee in exchange for royalties and performance options to ensure the licensee acts to make the patent a success for you. For a more in-depth explanation of patent licensing, see our article on the subject.)

Selling Your Patent: Making the Pitch

How do you actually go about selling a patent? Several options exist, and you should choose the one that best matches your strengths and resources. One way to sell your patent is through direct contact. While working with personal contacts is ideal, many patent holders do not have the network to be personally introduced to executives. When you do make contact with a firm, you want to present yourself as a business man or woman (I.E.- Product Developer, Founder, etc), not a mere inventor. This exudes an air of professionalism that established companies prefer. Then, request a face-to-face meeting with a Sales Manager or Product Manager within the company. Now, a word of caution is in order. You only want to schedule such a meeting if and when you have secured a patent for your idea. Otherwise, you have to ask the company to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements which they are unlikely to sign for standard business reasons. Therefore, a patent is your best (and often, only) means of selling your patent through direct contact methods. Here, you will encounter companies or people interested in your product and potentially buying it.

Selling Your Patent: Focus on Generating Interest

If you have secured the patent already, you are in prime position to market it to interested parties and evaluate potential buyers in your quest to profit from your labor. You can create a listing on our website in less than 10 minutes and immediately expand your network to thousands of companies that are looking for innovative new products to license or purchase in their industry.
Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of IdeaBuyer.com, the online marketplace for intellectual property. The site helps innovators generate interest among consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com. You can visit the site by clicking here > Patents for Sale.

Famous Inventions

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Over seven million patents have been issued in the United States alone, but some inventions in history stand out from all the rest. This article will explore some of the world’s most famous inventions and the people responsible for them.

We begin our journey into historic inventions at the beginning of the alphabet: with adhesives!

The first known use of adhesives dates all the way back to 4000BC. That’s when archeologists say clay pots were first used with primitive glue made out of tree sap. It is also a known fact that ancient Greeks used adhesives for carpentry using ingredients like egg whites, milk, cheese, and grains. Romans used beeswax for glue.

The first patent for glue, however, was issued in 1750 in Great Britain. That particular patent protected a glue mixture made from fish.

How about air conditioning? It has been around for so long that we can hardly imagine life without it, but AC is only about 90 years old. In 1921, Willis Haviland Carrier patented the centrifugal refrigeration machine. They called him “the father of cool”; Carrier’s refrigeration machine was the first practical way of cooling large spaces.

Most of us cannot picture going without the ballpoint pen in our daily lives. But until 1938, everyone did! That’s when a Hungarian journalist named Laszlo Biro invented the first ever ballpoint pen. Biro noticed that the ink used for newspapers dried very quickly, leaving the paper smudge-free. He thought to himself that a pen with the same ink would be very useful, but he had a problem: the thicker ink would not flow from a regular pen’s nib. Biro’s solution? He outfitted his pen with a ball bearing in the tip to facilitate the flow of ink.

Bar codes are used in just about every store imaginable. But until 1952, all ringing up of goods was done by hand, with registers or pencil and paper. That’s the way it was until Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver invented the barcode method of automatic identification and data collection. Although today’s barcodes are mostly rectangular, the original design was a circle, often described as a bull’s eye symbol. It was made up of concentric circles layered one atop the other, each in a uniquely identifiable way.

The cash register is a universally recognized symbol of American capitalism and wealth. Until 1883, however, they simply did not exist. That’s when James Ritt and John Birch got a patent for inventing what they nicknamed the “incorruptible cashier.” It was the first known working, mechanical cash register in existence.

The people to make cash registers famous, however, were the folks at National Cash register Company. That was the name John H. Patterson gave to the operation after buying both the patent and the company from Ritty and Birch.

 

The world would sure be a lot less pleasant without deodorant, and it was not until 1888 that it was finally brought out to the masses. The original deodorant was created by an unknown genius from Philadelphia, and it was recognized as the first product made specifically to prevent odors. However, the late 1940’s is when deodorant truly took off. That was the year when Helen Barnett Diserens grafted this new deodorant concept onto technology from ballpoint pens to make rollable deodorant applicators.

As for spray deodorant, the first aerosol model was launched in 1965.

We’ll round out our tour through the valley of inventions with everybody’s favorite creation: firearms!

 The first known gun was called the “puckle gun.” It was invented by James Puckle of London, England in 1718. However, the puckle gun was a far cry from the advanced weaponry we know today. The puckle gun was so big that it had to be mounted on a tripod and had only one barrel. It did have a multishot revolving cylinder which allowed the weapon to fire nine shots per minute. If that doesn’t seem too impressive, consider that the standard soldier’s musket could be loaded and fired just three times in one minute. The puckle gun marked the beginning of a glorious period of innovation in firearms. Revolvers, rifles, and everything in between followed from this one early puckle gun. 

In closing, the inventors of today have an awful lot to measure up to. With so many amazing and life-changing inventions already on the books, they have their work cut out for them in trying to outdo the greats of the past!

Increase Your Creativity – 3 Mistakes To Avoid When Finding Your Unique Natural Creative Flow

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

by Dan Goodwin

When we’re in the flow, creating CAN be as easy and as painless as pouring warm honey down your throat.

But only when we let it…

More often we make it about as pleasurable and soothing as gargling nails!

Here are some the mistakes we make when trying to find our natural creative flow, and what to do to overcome them:

Mistake 1: Expect everything you try to work perfectly.

There’s a very powerful (and true) saying that “If one person can do something, then another person can do the same thing.” And there’s much to be gained from following the examples others have had success with.

With creating there’s no need to re-invent the wheel each time we go to create. There are hundreds of tips and techniques we can pick up from reading and researching creativity, and many of them are very effective.

The secret to finding your own creative flow though is to experiment widely then discard what doesn’t work for you, and do more of what does work. If you expect every single tip you read to work perfectly then you’ll be disappointed.

At the heart of creativity is the attitude of experimenting, exploring, seeing things in ways that others haven’t before, and making new connections. If we apply this philosophy to everything in our creative lives, it’ll help us to live up to our creative potential.

Mistake 2: Do something that works for a while, then stop doing it.

When we do find something that helps us be more creative, obviously it’s a good idea to keep doing it. Often though, delighted at the progress we’ve made, we’ll get complacent. We feel we’ve had some kind of breakthrough, and from now on creating will be so much easier.

That’s probably true. But ONLY if you keep doing the things that are working so well. If you’re on a bicycle and stop pedalling, pretty soon you’ll come to a standstill. But keep pedalling at a steady rate and you’ll cover miles in a very short time.

Apply the same idea to the techniques you’ve found that work for helping you be more creative. Keep doing them, and keep refining them so they’re even more powerful and effective for you.

Mistake 3: Getting easily disheartened.

So, you’ve found some creative routines that work really well for you, and you’re making great progress in your creative projects. Then you hit a sticky patch.

Something happens to throw you off your rhythm and it dents your confidence. Instead of continuing to practice the methods that have been working, you stop doing them all in a moment of panic.

But of course this only makes things harder. If you carry on through these more challenging times (which we all experience) by doing what you’ve proved works well, then you’ll soon be through them. The worse mistake you can make is to give up what you know is effective for you.

These are 3 of the most common mistakes we make that disrupt our natural creative flow.

Think carefully about which you’ve done in the past. How can you take a different approach from now on? An approach that will serve your creativity well, and allow it to flow as freely as possible?

Want more great creativity articles, tips and exercises to help you increase your creativity? It’s easy: just sign up to “Create Create!” – Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin’s free twice monthly ezine – today, and get your FREE copy of the “Explode Your Creativity!” Action Workbook. Head on over now to www.CoachCreative.com

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