How Much Is A Patent Worth?

August 9th, 2012

Patent WorthHow much is a patent worth? What is the value of the idea or invention covered by the patent? One way to think about the value of the patent is by considering the intrinsic or underlying value of the product or idea.  For example, before the company actually made one or sold one, how much was the Apple iPhone patent worth?  Putting a value on the patent has to recognize the value of the underlying product.  How much is the patent worth on the next new light bulb (several patents have been granted in the U.S. recently for new LED light bulbs)?  The intrinsic value of the bulb may be less than an iPhone, but if more light bulbs can be sold, perhaps the patent is worth more than other patents that have been awarded.  So market size plays a role in determining the value of a patent as well.  As an inventor or product creator you may believe that your patent is worth a lot of money, and it may well be, but there are several objective criteria used to establish how much your patent is worth.

How Important Is Your Idea or Invention?

How important is your idea or invention? The answer to this question can be a clue to how much your patent is worth. For example, a new patent on a new breakthrough cure for cancer may be more valuable than a patent on a new broom handle.  Typically, breakthrough patents or patents that explore whole new areas of technology are among the most valuable.  In addition, if a patent is awarded to an invention or idea that is the first to find an answer to a long-standing problem, then that patent has more value as well.  These types of patents may well be worth billions of dollars because they provide the owner with what amounts to monopoly power in a market, niche or segment.  By having the right to exclude others through patent protection, the inventor or patent owner can command higher prices and effectively increase the value of the patent. One good way to think about how much your patent is worth – especially if it’s a breakthrough – is to ask the question, “How much would my competitors pay to use my protected product or service?”

How Big Is Your Market?

How big is your market? This can be another clue to helping establish how much a patent is worth.  For example, there are about 30 million small businesses in the U.S.  About 21 million of those are single-owner or sole proprietorships that do not report payroll.  The remaining 8-9 million are and businesses with fewer than 10 employees.  If the new product or invention can be used by all 30 million, that is a relatively large market.  By comparison, there are about 300 million households in the United States.  If you have an invention that can be used by most of these households or used frequently by homeowners that is an even larger market than the business sector of the economy.  When you think about how much a patent is worth, consider how large the market is where the idea or invention will be used.

How New Is Your Patent?

How long has the patent been in effect?  Unlike wine, generally speaking, the newer a patent the more it will be worth.  As the protection term expires (typically 20 years) or as the patent reaches the end of its enforcement period, it is likely to be worth less.  One of the key functions of patents and patent law is to spur innovation and creativity.  Once a patent is granted, even though the inventor or creator has the right to exclude others from his or her intellectual property, others in the same field and the competitors of the original patent holder will begin to evaluate the patent and create products or services of their own.

Without violating any intellectual property rights, the publicly available information in the patent, including design and uniqueness, can provide a basis for even newer innovations and creations. These too may then be patented, but when they are the first patent no longer has as much value.  Over the 20 year life of a patent, there may be several competitors who become more innovative and create new products of their own. By doing so, they dilute the monopoly control of the first patent as well as limit how much the patent is worth.  When patents are new, the intellectual property owned by the patent holder may still provide enough market control over what’s produced and how it’s produced to create more value in the patent before competitors can react.

With many categories or types of patents, it may take years for competitors to come up with new ideas or inventions of their own to effectively compete with the new patent.  Along those same lines, if there are more patents granted within a particular type of product or category, a patent will be worth less than in markets where there are fewer patents. There are fewer patents for innovative medical devices than there are for computer technologies according to the latest statistics from WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.  Patents in computer technologies may be worth less as a result, apart from the underlying value of the product or new idea, which also suggests that the significance of the idea being given a patent has something to do with the value of the patent as well.

Summary

How much is a patent worth?  There are objective markets for and legitimate ways to determine the dollar value of a patent.  These are best handled professionally, through patent attorneys or objective financial analysis firms.  Several factors go into determining how much a patent is worth. The underlying value or significance of the product or invention, the size of the target market, how competitive the market is and who competes with the patented idea, as well as the amount of time the patent has been in effect.  These all play a role in establishing the value of a patent. To determine how much a patent is worth, though, ultimately it comes down to how much someone will pay.

Famous Inventors

August 9th, 2012

Will you be the next famous inventor?  We know famous figures from America’s past like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, and others.  Thomas Edison, for example, was one of America’s most prolific inventors and he held close to 1,100 patents for his creations and inventions.  Alexander Graham Bell invented the landline telephone, but do you know who invented the first cell phone?  There is some discussion about who exactly it was, but a lot of the early development was sponsored by Bell Labs as that company grew and explored new communication inventions.  So you can be a famous inventor by yourself or as part of corporate innovation.

Among the most famous inventors of the 20th and 21st centuries, Steve Jobs is well-recognized.  He is listed first on the patent application for what became the Apple iPhone. (There are four other co-inventors on the application filed in September 2007.)  But, do you know the Hollywood actress who pioneered wireless communications in the 1940s?  Hedy Lamarr – a popular movie actress at the time – also invented wireless radio communications to help the USA during World War II.  The work she and her co-inventor George Antheil created was known as “field hopping, spread-spectrum” radio communications granted in 1947 as US Patent 2,292,387.  Her work was originally designed to help the US Navy jam signals of enemy torpedoes.  Practical use and implementation of the invention, though, did not occur until 1962 when the Navy used the technology during a blockade of Cuba.  Ms. Lamarr’s contributions to electronics and related communications were recognized in 1997 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, about 50 years later. So you can be a famous inventor, but unless you find a way to market or use your idea, fame does not necessarily guarantee financial success.

Other famous inventors have created products that have changed the world and most of our lives, as well as business and financial success for their owners.  For example, the steam engine (James Watt), the printing press (Johannes Gutenberg), the modern light bulb (Thomas Edison), the airplane (Wright Brothers), and other products were created by people who had some measure of fame and success during their lifetimes. Other inventions have been created but were implemented by others.  The barcode was invented by Bernard Silver and one of his students at the Drexel Institute of Technology, granted in 1952.  But, commercialization of the barcode invention required separate creation of tracking and control systems known as UPC codes about 10 years later.

Likewise, many inventions and the people famous for them are cooperative efforts.  The invention of the Internet was a joint undertaking, even with Al Gore’s assistance.  The original design and transmission protocols were developed by Vinton Cerf in 1973 with backing from the U.S. Department of Defense.  Once the specifications were published, it took about 10 years to fully develop what we know today as the World Wide Web, giving us the “www” at the beginning of any website address or URL.  Many times, famous companies support employees who invent and create patented products.  The company in the US that holds the most patents is IBM.  According to recent totals, nearly 3,000 patents are registered to IBM, most in computer design, engineering and manufacture.  Companies and groups of individuals can be famous for their inventions too.  As with the individual inventor, though, for companies it is still true that collective efforts are often required to commercialize an invention by bringing it to market.

Do you have to be famous?  Or, do you have to work with a group of people to make your idea or invention a reality?  The inventor who holds the most U.S. Patents is Japanese inventor, Shunpei Yamakazi with 1,851. Most of his inventions are related to memory chips and LCDs (liquid crystal display).  These are used in famous or familiar TV brands like Samsung, Motorola, General Electric, LG and more.  Even though Yamakazi is not a household name, his inventions and the intellectual property he has created have an impact on millions of households around the world.    In the case of Steve Jobs, yes he’s famous.  And he was a prolific inventor.  Apple Inc., though, would not exist as a successful company without the support and efforts of all the people who work with him and help develop his ideas. To have a viable, marketable idea or invention, you don’t have to be famous or connected with others but it helps.

Patent Trolls

August 9th, 2012

Have you heard of patent trolls? No, it’s not a new animated movie character but rather a real class of businesses and individuals who use today’s patent laws and systems to aggressively acquire significant patents in software, computer and technology areas.  The process starts when a shell company – known as Non-Practicing or Non-Performing Entity or NPE – buys rights to patents or licenses. The NPEs are also called “patent trolls” because they exist only for one reason – to buy patent-protected designs and inventions.

To understand why patent trolls exist, we need to know more about patent law and recent awards.  According to recent U.S. patent office statistics, about 60% of all patents awarded in the last 20 years have been granted for computer software.  When added to other patents granted in computers and communications technology, the total rises to 75%.  So, the NPEs and patent trolls know that these areas are the most active when it comes to acquiring or buying patents or patent rights. These market segments are also made up of some very large companies and corporations – Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Apple, Dell and many others.  Because the market is large and continues to grow, acquiring or purchasing patent protected products and services in these segments can be profitable.

Most patent trolls – and there are close to 400 in the U.S. alone according to Patent Freedom – an organization that tracks these companies and their activities – expect that the patented products they acquire will be popular and useful enough to generate revenue.  Potential conflicts can arise, though, when an NPE purchases a patent or group of patents that the larger companies try to work around.  The NPEs typically will challenge the larger corporations and many times, these conflicts result in lawsuits.

Why would NPEs be successful and why are they called patent trolls? To begin with, software patents in particular, but also many computer-related patents have 3 issues which some observers believe open the door for NPEs.  Many times software patents can be written and approved in vague language.  By contrast, chemical, engineering or drug patents for example must be written with much more concise and defined terms.  Trying to buy a drug patent, and then challenging a major drug maker for patent infringement would be very difficult.  The NPEs have a much easier time of buying or licensing computer and software patents, then challenging large, publicly traded companies because of the vague language used.

Patent TrollsA second factor that contributes is application continuation rules.  According to current patent law, a company or inventor can file patent applications and keep them on file as applications rather than awarded patents. As technology or software changes, these applications can be modified and re-filed.  As an NPE changes its patent applications to adjust for technology changes, that can at times result in additional conflict with larger companies.

Finally, the cost of renewing patents is relatively small compared to their value or worth on the open market. Today a patent can be renewed for approximately $1,000.  To protect their interests, even if a patent troll pays a high amount initially to buy or license a patent, they can renew that patent for a relatively small amount.  Compared to many recent settlements of these patent infringement lawsuits – in the millions of dollars – the cost to renew a patent is trivial.

The patent trolls and NPEs have one advantage that keeps them going in today’s market.  When large companies like Microsoft, Google and many others acquire patents – and most of these large companies have tens of thousands – they know that infringement lawsuits against the other large companies will only be met with return lawsuits.  If Microsoft sues Google for a patent infraction, chances are Google will turn around and sue Microsoft for something similar. To avoid this kind of back and forth in the patent arena, stockpiles of patents are usually seen as a deterrent.  And, unfortunately, the software, computer and technology markets have seen increasing usage of patent stockpiles among most large companies.  For the smaller NPEs, though, who also provide revenue to small company inventors and individuals by purchasing their patents, when conflicts arise larger companies tend to settle rather than start reverse lawsuits. The NPEs typically have few resources and larger companies realize the futility or suing these companies.

Patent trolls do exist, yes. Most of the negativity surrounding the name comes from outside observers who believe that NPEs exist only to sue big corporations. However, like some of the movie trolls you’ve seen recently, there is a good side to these companies as well. They do provide revenue and payments to smaller companies and inventors who might not otherwise be able to realize financial gains from their patented products and services.

Types of Patents

December 28th, 2011

Types of PatentsThere were close to 800,000 patents granted last year around the world, according to the latest government agencies that track the statistics and information about these patents.  The top categories were computer technology, electrical machinery and equipment and telecommunications.  And, digital communications just barely fell out of the top 10 in the latest year, but has been higher in past years among all types of patents.  Medical technology and pharmaceuticals are also in the top 10 industries or market segments around the world with active patent applications and awards.  Historically, at least in the U.S. investments in medical research and pharmaceutical product development have always been at the forefront of patent awards. The latest data suggest that this trend continues.  Patents and inventions tend to follow the most popular business and economic trends. Or it may be the other way around. The inventions and innovations included in the patented products help to spur growth in these key areas.

What types of patents are included in these latest statistics?  If you have a new idea or invent something, what kind of patent should you apply for? The U.S. Patent and Trade Office (PTO) patent applications fall into three large categories or types.

Utility Patents

First, there is what’s known as a Utility Patent.  This type of patent is generally issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. Patent applications can also be files for a new and useful improvement on an existing process.  When granted, these types of patents permit its owners to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing.  Continued patent protection for that period is contingent upon payment of maintenance fees to the PTO.  Approximately 90% of the patent documents issued by the PTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as “patents for invention.”

Design Patents

The second group is called Design Patents.  These are issued for a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.  If you design a new way to put together an artificial Christmas tree, for example, you can apply for a patent on that design.  Similar to Utility Patents, the Design Patent permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design.  But that protection on the design is for a period of fourteen years rather than the 20 years with a Utility Patent.  Another key difference is that Design patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

Plant Patents

The third large group is called Plant Patents.  These are issued for new and distinct, invented or discovered asexually reproduced plants including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.  This patent permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the plant for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing.  And, like a Utility Patent, Plant Patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees.  Basically, the Plant Patents are the alternative used by growers, plant enthusiasts, and others instead of a Utility Patent. The concept is similar, but Plant Patents apply to unique and distinct plants rather than products or services.

Other Types of Patents

Outside of these three main types of patents, the PTO also issues or awards patents for a few other reasons, basically to correct errors or offer inventors more limited protections.  The Reissue Patent is issued to correct an error in an already issued utility, design, or plant patent.  Once awarded, it does not affect the period of protection offered by the original patent based on the original date of issue.  There is also what’s known as a Defensive Publication (DEF) or what is now known as a Statutory Invention Registration (SIR) issued by the PTO.  These – and the DEF has been phased out or replaced by the SIR – offer more limited protection as inventors and innovators discover or create new ideas and products. These last two are intended to be defensive in nature and provide a way for an inventor to prevent others from using or patenting the same idea, design or plant.

Provisional Patents

In addition to these key types of patents, and the market segments where they are most important, we are all familiar with the term “patent pending”.  The PTO grants patent pending status to an invention, design or new plant when a provisional application is filed.  Basically, the inventor or creator of the new product or idea submits an application to the PTO that temporarily prohibits someone else from using the idea.  Once the provisional application is submitted, the invention can legally be labeled as “patent pending”.  While this does not offer the same level of protection as an actual patent – only one person can be awarded a patent for an invention – the process does discourage others from trying to copy the idea.  Patent pending status is intended to protect inventors and their inventions while a more formal patent application process is being completed.

Summary

There are three main categorical types of patents. You will need to consult with a patent attorney to determine the best type of patent to file for your invention. Not only does it take time to create and invent and be innovative, but it takes time to file all the right patent documents as well – for all types of patents.

What Is A Patent?

December 27th, 2011

What is a PatentHow good are your ideas and inventions? Can someone else do the same thing? The principle behind a patent is to protect your rights to make, use or sell what you have created or invented. Without that protection or patent, your ideas and inventions could be copied by anyone. The formal definition of a patent is a form of intellectual property that confers on the owner the exclusive rights to manufacture, sell or use that property for a specified period of time. If your ideas and inventions are good enough and unique, then you can be granted a patent to protect them.

A Patent is Real Property

What is the intellectual property included in a patent and how do you know if you have any? One way to think about intellectual property is to consider what is meant by “real property”. In the case of physical assets or real estate, there is something tangible (you and I can see it, touch it or otherwise know that it exists) that someone owns. Property rights and the benefits of ownership are well-known and established through laws and courts. Your sole right to ownership and the ability to use that property is protected. You can’t take or use someone else’s physical property or real estate without their knowledge or without compensating them in some way.

The same principle applies to intellectual property. Your ideas and inventions can be thought of as property that you own and have the rights to use. It’s intellectual property as distinguished from physical property only because we can’t see it or touch it. Nevertheless, intellectual property does exist. Along the same lines as physical property then, once it’s protected you can’t take or use someone else’s intellectual property without their knowledge or without compensating them in some way. Patents are designed to identify and protect your intellectual property.

Patents Require Substantial Documentation

Patents, because they are used as a form of legal protection, require detail and supporting documentation. When you create a new product or invent a new way to do something, in order for a patent to be granted, you have to show what you have done. In order for the government authorities – who grant or award patents – to evaluate your case, there must be enough evidence to show that your idea or invention qualifies as intellectual property. Without the details and a description of design elements or how the invention works, patents are typically not awarded.

Patents Make Your Information Public

How comfortable would you be about publicly sharing all of the details about your new idea? Most of us would not want to provide that information without some guarantee that others would not be able to use the information. So, patents basically grant to the inventor or creator the right to “exclude others” from using or the same thing you have. Patents do not include rights to use the idea or invention, but rather are intended to protect your rights of ownership. Like any other property rights, patents may be sold, licensed, given away, transferred or simply abandoned – just like any physical piece of property. The patent grants the inventor these limited property rights for a specific term, usually 20 years from the date of the patent application or submission.

Patent Definition

November 21st, 2011

Patent Definition

What is a patent and what will one do for me? Patents have a long history and are designed to protect the rights of inventors, new product creators and innovators. Basically a patent can be defined as “a grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time”. Patents are granted by most governments around the world today in order to recognize the value of new inventions or creations and protect the ability of the inventor to profit from his or her work.

The 3 Types of Patents

There are 3 types of patents in the United States – utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Utility patents are awarded for new products, inventions and things of “material substance” that have been created. Design patents, on the other hand, are awarded for unique and newly creative designs, just as the name suggests. Finally plant patents – which are not issued as often as the other two types – are awarded for new plant breeds, creative new plant formats and other plant-based creations. All 3 types of patents have the same intent – protect the rights of the inventor, designer or plant breeder.

U.S. Patent Office

A patent is a government award that gives an inventor the right to exclude others from making the same thing. According to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, a patent is a grant of a property right with a typical term of 20 years given to the inventor or creator of the new idea or product. Importantly, patents granted by the U.S. government are only enforceable in the United States, U.S. Territories, and U.S. Possessions. Outside of the U.S., an inventor would be required to apply for patents from foreign governments to protect their inventions outside the U.S.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not necessarily the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.

Does Not Guarantee Success

In other words, a patent is a protection but it does not guarantee marketplace success. Patents are designed to protect your interests and property rights, nothing more. They do give you the right to exclude others from making or selling the exact same thing you have invented. However, in order to protect your rights as well as to make, use, sell or import your invention, there are additional steps required. Basically the patent is like a certificate of ownership. If you own a home or piece of land and you hold the property deed, all that piece of paper says is that you are the owner. There are no other rights or privileges that go along with ownership. As the owner or patent holder, though, you do have the right to exclude others but enforcement requires legal representation and support outside of the patent application and award system.

How Long are they Good For?

Patents are typically granted for a 20 year period. From the date granted, the patent grants the inventor these same rights – to exclude others – for the next 20 years. In the pharmaceutical industry, many times a patent award results in a market monopoly on a specific drug formulation. The company is entitled to prevent other companies from making the same drug with the same ingredients unless they have permission or have negotiated an agreement to do so. Once the patent expires, generic equivalents typically enter the marketplace and many times the original patent holder will convert the patented formula to an over-the-counter offering where a prescription is not needed. The original patent protects the rights of the inventor or company-sponsored inventions during the first 20 years.

As mentioned, though, a patent does not automatically give the inventor the right to make or sell the new products. If your invention, for example, uses a patented product or component as part of your creation you would need to then have permission or rights to use that product. Without those agreements or rights, your invention would be subject to patent infringement investigations or lawsuits. Patents are granted to protect our rights as inventors, but the scope of that protection is limited to exclusionary rights, not necessarily monopoly market power.

Eric Corl is the founder of IdeaBuyer.com which helps inventors obtain, license, and sell patents.

Patent Infringement

March 9th, 2011

Patent Infringement

What is Patent Infringement?


Patent infringement is when a company or individual uses, manufactures, imports, sells, or offers a patent protected invention for sale without a license from the patent holder.  Patent infringement liability in the United States also extends to those who knowingly induce others to infringe.


Types of Patent Infringement:

1. Direct Patent Infringement

Direct patent infringement is when a company or individual produces, sells, or imports a product or technology that is protected by a patent. Direct patent infringement is often times accidental but carries high costs and damages.

2. Indirect Patent Infringement

Indirect patent infringement often involves a level of deception and involves either induced patent infringement or contributory infringement which we will describe next.  This type of infringement typically relates to companies or individuals that knowingly aid a third party in the infringement or sell components they know would only be used in the case of infringement.

3. Contributory Patent Infringement

Contributory patent infringement occurs when a company or individual knowingly sells components that are only reasonably used for a patented invention.

4.Induced Patent Infringement

Induced patent infringement occurs when a company or individual license a previously patented invention or sell instructions on how to construct a patented invention. This type of infringement often leads to direct infringement by the third party and is a case where the ‘inducer’ knowingly aided in the infringement without directly infringing on the patent themselves.


Patent Infringement Cost


Patent infringement can end up costing a patent holder a tremendous amount of money in lost opportunity in the marketplace and carries heavy penalties for infringers. Due to the complexity of patent infringement legal cases, the cost of going to court on patent infringement is often very costly to both parties in the short term.


How to Sue for Patent Infringement Damages


To sue for patent infringement damages, a patent holder must be able to prove patent infringement by a company or individual and be able to directly relate that infringement to damages they incurred. These damages can be calculated as lost investment, market opportunity, market growth, company growth, etc. Often, patent damages are calculated on a variety of factors including a factor of the money made by the infringing party.


Patent Infringement Examples


Every day there are patent infringement lawsuits that are filed and settled. Some of the best patent infringement examples are those that have been in the mainstream media over the past several months. Below, I have listed several examples of patent infringement.

  1. Microsoft infringement on i4i’s patented technology.

In 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with i4i in its patent lawsuit against Microsoft for infringing on a patent in its versions of Microsoft 2003 and 2007. The court awarded i4i Ltd more than $290 million dollars in damages as well as an injunction against Microsoft preventing it from selling the versions of its infringing software. Microsoft was then forced to pay i4i royalties to continue sales of the software.

  1. Jonathan Benson infringement on Benchmade’s Patents and Trademark

In 2011, the United States District Court of Oregon issued a final judgment June 7th ruling that Benson had in fact infringed on their patents and trademark and enjoined the company to stop immediately. It is not clear as to the monetary damages Benchmade was awarded.


Patent Infringement Trolls

There are many patent infringement attorneys and groups that are referred to as trolls. These are companies that license, purchase, or represent patent holders specifically for the purpose of patent litigation against infringers. The practice has been noticeably profitable over the past decade in which most cases take place in the District Court of the Eastern District of Texas.

What to do if someone is infringing on my patent?

If an individual or company is infringing on your patent, it is important to seek patent attorney representation immediately. While patent infringement litigations costs are often high, do not let this deter you. Many attorneys will take patent infringement cases on ‘contingency’ due to their high payouts. This means that in many cases you can attain representation without funding the case yourself. If you are interested in speaking with a patent attorney with experience in patent litigation, you may call us at 832-683-1527 for a free consultation.

Sell an Invention

February 27th, 2011

Sell an Invention

How to Sell an Invention – 10 Steps


This article discusses how to sell an invention in ten steps.
1. Conduct Market Research
– Substitute Products
– Retail Price Spectrums
– Market Growth
– Realistic Distribution Channels
– Average Time to Market for Similar Products/Inventions
– Recent Success Stories in the Market
– Analyze the Potential Market Demand (Be Realistic)

2. Know Your Product
– The invention should be engineered.
– You should have a functioning prototype or proof of concept.
– You need to know how much it will cost to be manufactured (Wait for formal quotes until you are protected).
– You need to know what your anticipated margins are.

3. Get Feedback from Those You Trust – Not Your Family and Friends.
– Check out SBDC or SCORE.gov to find local mentors and coaches that the government pays for.
– Vet your idea out with mentors, fellow inventors, or trusted entrepreneurs.
– Do not get offended by critical comments or too flattered by positive comments. You can learn a lot more from critical comments than positive ones. These are often issues that customers may have and issues that friends and family might not tell you.
– It is very likely that the invention you end up selling will be much different than the one you originally conceived. This is OK.

4. Decide at this stage if it’s worth protecting. Some inventions will not be. If you find out it will be a dud, kill it early.
– Read our article on, “Kill Bad Ideas Quick”, here;http://www.ideabuyer.com/news/kill-bad-ideas-quick/

5. If you decide to continue, protect it with a patent attorney.
– We offer discount patent services to our members. If you would like to inquire, contact us via email at contactus@IdeaBuyer.com or by phone; 832-683-1527.

6. Put Together a Business Case
– How will your product idea benefit those who help you?
– How will it fit into their current product spread?
– How do you propose you will work together? What is your proposal for a working relationship?

7. Prepare Your Materials in a Professional Manner
– Color printed, bound.
– Professional Power Point
– Professional Website
– Deal Profile.
– Proposal Outline.

8. Know Your Audience
– Research the companies you feel would be interested.
– Identify specific contacts within those companies.
– Prepare for your calls.
– Be polite and considerate of others time.
– Keep your pitch short and ask if  you can send additional information.
– Accept feedback positively.

9. Be Prepared to Make or Accept an Offer
– Know what you are looking for in regards to a licensing %.
– Know what terms you would like in the agreement to protect yourself.
– Be prepared to accept or reject exclusivity.
– Don’t be greedy. Think about the BIG picture.

10. Repeat Steps 8 & 9 for Additional Companies.

Eric Corl is the founder and President of Idea Buyer LLC, an Ohio Limited Liability Company. Idea Buyer LLC runs and manages http://www.IdeaBuyer.com – The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. You can email Eric directly at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com. If you have questions about bringing your product to market, feel free to ask us.

How to Invent and Profit Like Thomas Edison

February 8th, 2011

Thomas EdisonWell known American inventor, scientist and businessman, Thomas Edison, never stopped inventing from the time he started through the end of his life. He died with 1,093 patents to his name. More notably though, he commercialized hundreds of patented inventions through patent licensing, patent sales, and by building companies around his patented ideas.

Lesson #1: Invent to Sell

One of our favorite Edison quotes explains his desire to create commercially viable inventions:

“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” –Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison used daily life as inspiration for many of his inventions. He would actively think about and observe problems and needs which he believed people would pay to have solved. Many of his patents were improvements on existing products that increased usability and practicality.


“I have never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”
– Thomas Edison

Lesson #2: Understand the Value of Marketing

Unlike other inventors of his time, Edison understood the value of marketing. After inventing a product, he did not sit back and wait for customers to come to him. Instead, he went out and actively marketed his inventions. Early on, he focused on licensing or selling his patents. Later, he focused on creating companies to bring his products to market.

“Unlike other inventors of his time, Edison understood the value of marketing”

Edison believed in showcasing his inventions to the public and throwing down a challenge to competing products. When promoting his DC power over Nikola Tesla’s AC power, he electrocuted an elephant with Tesla’s AC power to prove it was dangerous and should not be used.

Lesson #3: Work Hard and Be Persistent

Thomas Edison was a self-acclaimed hard worker. He did what he had to do so that he could keep inventing. His ambition, drive and motivation are inspirational:

“I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.” –Thomas Edison

Edison figured out how to invent while working full time. He worked jobs that would provide him the ability to invent while he was also collecting wages. Edison purchased his first industrial research lab with the money he made from the sale of the quadruplex telegraph to Western Union which he invented after hours.

Lesson #4: Think Outside of the Box

When Edison was conceptualizing the implementation of electric power, he didn’t just stop at the idea. Edison figured out how to distribute it, in order for people to use it, making him money. Edison’s DC power was eventually replaced with AC power in most states during the mid 20th century; however parts of New York City used DC power until 2007.

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” –Thomas Edison

Lesson #5: Focus on One Idea

Thomas Edison also understood the power of focus. This is displayed by another one of my favorite quotes of his.

“I have more respect for the person with a single idea who gets there than for the person with a thousand ideas who does nothing.” –Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison used his focus and persistence to get results. Over the period of his life, Thomas Edison founded 14 companies, including General Electric, which is one of the largest companies in the world.

Edison’s strategy for inventing can serve any inventor who wants to make money; invent what people need and then actively promote your invention to find your customers. The only way your invention will have a shot is with persistent and proper marketing.

Create a Listing today and reach investors, patent buyers, retailers, and manufacturers looking for the next BIG ideas.

Learn more about Creating a Sales Pitch or Licensing a Patent.

Lindsey Yeauger is the Product Marketing Director for IdeaBuyer.com, The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. You can email her directly at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com

Need Assistance? Call us today at (832) 683-1527

Personality Characteristics of Successful Inventors

January 2nd, 2011

Personality Characteristics of Successful Inventors

Successful inventors know more than just a technical sequence of steps. Beyond that, what really makes them successful is the personality characteristics they possess. They have a mindset that enables them to make the right decisions when they need to be made. While this is a bit harder to learn and master than the steps of a process, it is no less important. In fact, it may actually be more important. That being the case, let’s explore what some of these vital personality characteristics are.

1) Developing a bias towards action.

By far the most beneficial characteristic of successful inventors is having a bias towards action. Very simply, this is a shift in thinking where you are more inclined to do something than do nothing. When an opportunity presents itself, you move quickly and intelligently to capitalize on it. When a problem arises, you act just as quickly to neutralize it and minimize the damage. This is a major change from the habits of non-successful inventors (and non-successful people in general), who are usually happy to twiddle their thumbs while waiting for answers to serendipitously appear.

This is fatal to your chances of success. Therefore, you should make it your business to develop a bias towards action as quickly as possible.

2) Being decisive.

Going hand in hand with the a bias toward action is the habit of being decisive. As an inventor, you are the point man, the rainmaker, the go-to guy. You don’t have a CEO, human resources department, or labor union to bail you out when things go wrong. It’s you or bust, and that makes being decisive an absolute must. Again, this is more of a mentality than a step-by-step process. You need to feel ice in your veins when the time comes to make a big decision, being prepared to stake everything on the choice you ultimately make. As the great philosopher Ayn Rand wrote,

“An inventor is a man who asks ‘why?’ of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.”

3) Having integrity.

One of the biggest reasons people strike out on their own to invent stuff is they want to escape the backstabbing, soul-crushing, opportunistic corporate world. They didn’t want to BS and backbite their way to retirement. Integrity is very important to them, and should be to you.

Therefore, you want to be percieved as a man of your word.You never know who you are going to need a favor from. The person you you talked down last year might be in a position to make or break you someday. Plus, it’s just bad form to screw people in order to succeed. Stay true to your principles at all times and you will have mastered a crucial success habit.

4) Staying focused on your main goals.

Focus is another “state of mind” characteristic that you must work at if you don’t already have it. Very simply, it means devoting the most time to the things that move your goals closer to realization. Direct marketer John Carlton has a term for this: Operation Moneysuck. As he explained it, top copywriters were wasting their time if they worked on anything that didn’t bring in the money. They were not making money when they were fixing the copier, arguing on the phone with vendors, or issuing a refund.

The top inventors intuitively know this.

They know that every second they spend on other things is time they aren’t spending on finishing, packaging, and marketing their product. Adopt the same mindset and you will be well ahead of the curve.

5) Loyalty to your goals

This might seem like the same thing as staying focused on your goals, but it’s really not. Loyalty to your goals is what you need when a seemingly (but not actually) better opportunity arises. As human beings, it’s easier to take your eye off the ball. Especially when you get caught up in what seems cool and glamerous right now. But if you want to succeed as an inventor, you cannot succomb to this temptation. John Carlton elaborates:

“But when you have a set of goals to measure any incoming opportunity against, you know exactly what to do. If the opportunity moves you closer to your goal, then you jump on it. If it doesn’t… well, you’re allowed to reconsider your fundamental goals, but when you’re dead set on something specific (like being an entrepreneur) then it’s easy to let even hot opportunities go (like taking another job with The Man, regardless of how attractive the salary is).”

For an inventor, this means ignoring naysayers who tell you your dream is hopeless. It means listening to your own inner voice instead of surrendering it to people who want you to drag you down to their level.

6) Developing Strong ‘Why’s’

Why are you an inventor? Why are you inventing what you are inventing? Answering these questions – really, firmly, no-doubt-about-it answering them – will take you a long way toward following through on steps 4 and 5. One of the main reasons people don’t reach their goals is because they never had good reasons for setting them. Maybe they picked an arbitrarily high goal to impress their friends or family. Maybe they picked a goal they intuitively know is impossible to reach, so they give up. The solution is setting goals that are A) realistic and B) you actually want and need to achieve.

Think it through in such depth that you can recite your reasons at 3AM when someone pulls you out of a dead sleep and demands to know what they are. Once you are this resolved in why you are doing something, you will be virtually unstoppable.

Eric Corl is the President of Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company and the parent company of IdeaBuyer.com. IdeaBuyer.com is a marketplace for new technology and products that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers.