Make Your Invention Real

February 23rd, 2009

Make Your Invention RealAfter over 20 years in this industry, I know inventors are creative, ambitious people. They are the individuals who see a problem and envision a solution to that problem. Too often, however, they take a difficult pathway as they strive to bring their invention to the attention of potential buyers. Most inventions fail because the initial precious resources are misdirected and spent on inadequate prototypes and filings for full patents before the idea is developed into a viable business concept. An effective business planning process will address such issues as cost and potential return on investment, which should be 8 to 10 times the direct cost of manufacturing. In today’s uncertain economy, a further goal must be to develop the idea in such a way as to minimize the risks to a licensing firm.

Without the services of an experienced product development and management (PDM) company, inventors may spend $15,000 or more on patenting and as much or more on ineffective prototyping of an invention that is not yet ready for commercialization, only to discover that the idea is impossible or too expensive to produce. Working with a PDM company, you can take the sketch you drew on a crumpled napkin and help develop it into a real product with potential readiness for the marketplace.

From crumpled napkin to tangible product, you will need to take the following steps: 1. Have your product evaluated 2. Assess the reception from the market and 3. Build support for your product.

Evaluation

Your invention will be developed by a product designer, or sculpted or modeled in 3D CAD. This step in the process enables the PDM Company to evaluate your idea for feasibility. The issue of feasibility has a number of dimensions: First, does the invention provide a clear-cut solution to a problem? You need to answer this question before spending large sums on prototyping and patenting fees. In addition, can the invention be manufactured? Perhaps most importantly, does your invention have “financial feasibility”? That is, is it likely to make an adequate return on your investment, and on the investment of the organization that buys or leases your invention from you?

An experienced PDM company will assign a Product Development Team with representatives from marketing, engineering, manufacturing, testing, quality, finance, intellectual property management and any other needed discipline to work with you. The team will address your invention’s entire life cycle, from development through production to support.

Market Receptivity

Don’t spend thousands on prototyping and patenting an idea that doesn’t have the potential to find a ready market. You have probably been thinking about your invention for years, and you’re sure that everyone will want one. That may be true, but it’s best to assess the market objectively. Are you sure your idea is unique? Someone else may have “gotten there” before you, with a similar invention, or with different approach that solves the same problem that inspired you.

A PDM company will use focus groups and market testing to help refine your product, differentiate it, and give it the edge it needs to reach its ultimate customers. This is the point at which your PDM Company will join forces with your patent attorney to work with you as strategic partners.

Product Support

A purchaser or licensee will require certain information before they can understand the benefit of your invention. They will want to know that you have developed a product forecast based on market feedback and engineering analysis. They will want to know that your product and its production processes have been validated, and that you have obtained all needed regulatory approvals and certifications.

Additional tools to support your product may include virtual prototyping and manufacturing analysis, selection of materials and technology, and development of direct cost to manufacture, focusing on development of a recommended end sales markup of 8 to 10 time the manufacturing cost. End-user documentation, operating manuals and maintenance instructions may also be required. Working with a PDM company is a cost-effective way to develop these tools and make the idea you once sketched on a napkin into a real product with value in the marketplace!

Selling or Licensing a Patent: Information Companies Want to See

January 19th, 2009

Getting information about your product to companies can be difficult. Here are some suggestions on what information to send, and how to send it.

After doing your market research, you should be aware of some companies that would be a good fit for your product. (They buy patents, they have manufacturing and distributing capabilities, and they are marketing to your product’s target end-user.) A briefing document on your product is a great way to generate interest in your product. It is short, concise, and full of solid, well-written information.

A good briefing document should explain the benefits of your patent, what you are looking to do with your patent, and why you are contacting the company or person. It should be clear and written in plain English. Through sending a briefing document, you are expressing the desire for someone to take over your patent.

When you contact a company for the first time about your product, the information sent should be well thought out. This is especially true if this company has never heard of you, or your product. It is important to provide quality information about your product, in a complete and concise manner. Think of it as a resume for your product. You wouldn’t send the biography of your life to a potential employer, just like you shouldn’t send a copy of your patent to a potential buyer. Very few people have the time or will take the time to read massive amounts of information from a complete stranger.

Here are the sections you should include in your briefing document:

  • Purpose:
    • Explain why you are sending this document out to companies.
DO use phrases like: DO NOT use phrases like:
“to make you aware” “this is a great idea”
“to inform you of” “you will make a lot of money”
“to see if you have any interest in” “it is going to be bought by everyone”
“to contact you regarding” “you will want to buy it”

Many inventors are quick to TELL potential buyers that they SHOULD or will WANT to buy their patent. Honestly, no one wants to be TOLD what they are going to like. Similar to applying for a job: you would not write at the top of your resume “you will want to hire me” or “I am the best”. It could easily lead to your resume going straight into the trash.

Make the introduction to your product a pleasant, and non threatening experience.

Ex: This document is intended to inform you that the patent for PRODUCT X is for sale or license.

  • Background:
    • Explain the basic benefits of the product.

It is important to note that a benefit of the product is something gained by the user. The seller of the product can also be benefitted financially by selling it.

    • What milestones have already been reached by the product?

This section should include the current status of the product. Questions to be answered should include:

  • Is the product patented? For how long?
  • Is there a working prototype? If so, is there more than one available?
  • Is the product currently being sold? If so, what it the sales track record?
  • Are there currently relationships with manufacturers, distributors, retailers, etc.?
    • Include a BRIEF history of the product.

A short explanation of the people or companies that have been involved with the product should suffice.

  • Pertinent Details:
    • Details about the product and its function that have not already been described.
    • Include any market research findings that may have an impact on the level of interest. (More important for persons/ companies not involved with the market.)

Like a resume, this should explain the details about the product that would qualify it for a sale or license.

  • Target Audience:
    • Based on your market research, explain your target end-user.

Do not use the exact target audience that the company may have on their website. Most likely, they will know if you have copied and pasted. Your market research should have given you a conclusion as to who the optimal end user is. A basic two-sentence explanation, will allow the reader to understand whether your product will fit with the products they already work with.

  • Objective Explanation

At the beginning of your briefing document, you explained the purpose of sending the document to the reader. Now is where you explain, in greater detail, your objectives.

Ex: “I am looking to sell the rights to my patent exclusively.”

  • Contact Information

Be certain to make sure that your document includes your contact information.  As said in other articles, be sure that your contact information is appropriate and professional. Email addresses such as, HotBlonde@email.com, will not be taken seriously.

After you have completed the written information, you may want to include a logo in the header of the document. Make sure that the document has been edited well, and then it will be ready for printing. A professional print job is always more impressive, and can cost as little as $.08 per page.
A briefing document is an inexpensive way to generate interest about your patent, and allows you to use it as an excuse to make contact via telephone with a company.

For companies interested in more information, send them a Pitchbook with a comprehensive analysis.

It’s time to generate interest in your patent!

If you are interested in having professional materials created for you, please contact Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Product Marketing Director for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Invention Goals

January 15th, 2009

Invention GoalsAs you set your invention goals, here are a few tips to help you stack on track and achieve success.

Although there may be several things that you would like to accomplish, focus on the most important. It is easy to lose sight of the finish line if you are taking too many detours. Prioritize the resolutions and choose which one will take precedent over the others. This will keep you from spreading yourself too thin.

Similarly, you do not want your goals to be set too high. Set your resolutions at a level that is reasonable for you to achieve. Becoming discouraged because the goal is unreachable will only create resistance when trying other resolutions.

Now let’s put this into perspective.

Sally has resolved that she is going to sell her patent by the end of 2011. Great! Good for her! Well, kind of. The only problem is that Sally has not started the patent process, she has no contact with companies, and she is on a fixed income. This may not be a reasonable goal for Sally, while the ambition is admired.

For the type of situation that Sally is in, a more conservative goal may be to file for a provisional patent by the end of your time frame. This will allow her to work on saving money for the cost of filing the provisional patent while researching the product’s market.

After the reasonable goal for 2011 is set into place, it is time to set up a schedule for when the process will begin, how much time will be spent on it, and how long it will take. Make sure to start working on your resolution when it is good for you. You will be more likely to work on your resolution if you start it during a time best suited for you and your schedule. If you are NOT a winter person and find it hard to get motivated during the season, start working on your resolution in spring. If you are an accountant, start your resolution on April 16th. The goal you have chosen is intended to better your life, not to make it more stressful.

Choosing a schedule is important to keeping yourself on track! Make sure that it works for you. Back to our example:

Sally has decided that she is going to save $50 a month toward her provisional patent. She is going to spend one hour a week researching her product and the market. Every other Wednesday, Sally has a PTA meeting. Scheduling her one hour a week for research will not work on Wednesdays, so she will choose Thursdays.

By allowing your resolution to become a habit, or part of your routine, you are more likely to achieve it. After two or three months of researching her product every Thursday from 9-10pm, it will be part of Sally’s routine, and she will be one step closer to achieving her resolution.

Before the resolution is a habit and engrained into your schedule, try setting up a reward system for yourself. Once you have completed a step of your process, reward yourself with someone applicable to the resolution. For Sally, maybe she could spend one of her Thursday nights designing a logo or packaging, or try setting up a website for her product.

A friend in a similar situation or a mentor that has been through the process could benefit you greatly in achieving your goal along with providing resources and advice along the way.

Whatever your resolution, do your best to stay on track. Hold yourself accountable, and make sure you are completing steps toward your goal!

Recommended Invention Goals from The IdeaBuyer Team:

  • Make company contacts within your industry.
  • Create a Pitchbook, if you don’t already have one.
  • Limit expenses to items that will give you a return on your investment. (I.E. Prototype, Pitch materials, contacts)
  • Find out if there is a market for your product.

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Selling your Idea Overview- Checklist Week 7

December 30th, 2008

Completing the Checklist

There is little you can do in addition to the six steps that you have already completed. Now it is time for you to manage the relationships that you have, and watch your hard work payoff.

THE CHECKLIST
PROTECTING MY IP
CREATE PROTOTYPE AND DRAWINGS
DO RESEARCH
CREATE PRESENTATION MATERIAL
GET MANUFACTURING QUOTES
CREATE COMPANY CONTACTS
SEE MY PRODUCT ON STORE SHELVES
RECEIVE ROYALTY CHECK!

Here is a recap of the previous weeks that have brought us to completing the checklist.

Week One: Protecting Intellectual Property

Without protection for your intellectual property, anyone can potentially steal your idea. This makes it extremely difficult to sell your idea, or to expect to receive any money for it. I highly recommend starting with a provisional patent. They are inexpensive compared to a full patent, and they protect you for a year while you are doing market research.

The results of your research will let you know if you want to continue to move forward and spend the money for a full patent.

Click Here to File a Provisional Patent

By protecting your intellectual property, you were enabled to move forward with the idea.

Week Two: Creating a Prototype and Drawings

For many people, a visual component is necessary for understanding the description of the product. Some people have a wild imagination and may picture something completely different, while other people may not be able to picture it all.

For prototyping, we follow a five step model:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Engineering
  4. Prototyping
  5. Production

By creating a prototype and drawings, people can visualize your product and how they would use it.

Week Three: Research!

While at times it is easy to become wrapped up in all of the information that the internet can offer, do not neglect your local library. The information that you find online may cost money, and is probably available for free at your local library.

Here are some search engines that I would recommend using, other than our beloved Google.

  1. The Thomas Register

    The Thomas Register is a great tool for specified searches on manufacturers and suppliers.

    http://www.thomasnet.com/index.html

  2. Hoovers

    Hoovers offers a searchable database of companies, executives, and expert advice.

    http://www.hoovers.com/free/

  3. IndustrySearch.com

    IndustrySearch is a great resource if you are looking to do market research on the tech or manufacturing sectors.

    http://www.industrysearch.com/

Researching the market, industry, competition and end user in-depth, will provide people with information to become more interested in potentially partnering with you.

Week Four: Materials for Presenting your Idea

First impressions are extremely important. Psychologists say first impressions have a primacy effect. The primacy effect in essence is the base for all impressions moving forward. So, if you make a bad first impression, all future opinions will be influenced by the first negative impression.

It is extremely important to make sure that you are presenting your product and yourself in the best possible manner, in order to seal a deal. The presentation should include all of the detailed information that you found in your research.

For more information regarding hands-on Pitchbook services provided by Idea Buyer, please contact: Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Week Five: Manufacturing Quotes

One critical step in the invention process is obtaining manufacturing quotes. As an inventor, you must know the cost of making your product tangible, and ready to be sold. The manufacturing cost will play a role in many of your financial projections, and also when potential partners are considering offering you a deal.

The best way to obtain manufacturing quotes is to work with a prototyping company that regularly works with inventors and has experience working with products in your given industry.

Week Six: Creating Company Contacts

Trade shows can be extremely beneficial when trying to create contacts within your industry. Always make sure that you have business cards with you, in case you meet someone interested in your product. It will serve as a reminder, and provide them with your contact information. The card should have your name, the name of your product, telephone number, email address, and if applicable, a website address where people can find more information. Remember to make sure that the contact information is appropriate and professional.

Take notes on the conversations you have. After you meet someone that you have exchanged business cards with, wait until you are away from the person, and write on the back of the business card key information that you learned about him/ her. Key things to remember:

  • The companies you discussed.
  • Investors and manufacturers mentioned.
  • Possible friends he/ she said might be interested or may know someone that can help.
  • Where they are from.
  • How long they are in town for. (If they are staying longer, you may be able to set up a meeting while you both are still there.)
  • Children, spouse, or other personal information mentioned.

This information will help you to remember them and also to allow them to remember you when you contact them.

Week Seven: Seeing YOUR Product on Store Shelves and Collecting Royalties

With all of the work that you have done protecting your IP, creating a prototype and drawings, doing market research, creating presentation materials, getting manufacturing quotes, and creating company contacts, I am sure that you are ready to take a deep breath and relax. Well it’s ALMOST time for that.

By creating your presentation materials out of all of the work that you have done, it is time to present, if you haven’t already. Call upon the contacts that you have made, and ask them to take a look at your materials. DON’T GIVE UP! If one company says that they are not interested, it doesn’t mean that another company won’t be.

When a company is ready to buy or license your patent, you will create an agreement explaining the terms of selling or licensing your intellectual property. These terms should be well thought out, well negotiated, and reviewed by your lawyer before signing.

Signing does not necessarily mean all of the work is over. You should be continuing to manage the relationship with the buyer or licensee of your intellectual property, to make sure that the agreement is being fulfilled.

Other than managing the usage of your intellectual property, all you really need to do now is watch the mail for your royalty check!

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Networking with Companies

December 17th, 2008

Create Those Contacts!

The patent sale process can be long and discouraging at times. Sometimes you need someone in the background to cheer you on to keep moving along in the patent sale process. As the sixth step in this process, this week’s topic is more of a cheer… CREATE THOSE CONTACTS! While creating your contacts, keep last week’s newsletter about first impressions, in the back of your mind.

THE CHECKLIST
PROTECTING MY IP
CREATE PROTOTYPE AND DRAWINGS
DO RESEARCH
CREATE PRESENTATION MATERIAL
GET MANUFACTURING QUOTES
CREATE COMPANY CONTACTS
SEE MY PRODUCT ON STORE SHELVES
RECEIVE ROYALTY CHECK!

Trade shows are the number one spot for you to meet companies, manufacturers, investors, and other inventors in your industry. Make yourself and your product known by introducing yourself to industry leaders.

To make the most of your event I suggest that you research who will be there and the specific companies you want to target. Having ‘target companies’ in mind will help you save lots of time and ultimately give you more time with prospects.

Additionally, you want to make sure that you are prepared for those conversations.
However, contacts can be made anywhere, and at anytime and you need to be prepared! Here are a few of my suggestions for creating and keeping a contact:

Keep business cards with you at all times!

Business cards allow you to be remembered by someone for a period of time after you have met. It can also serve as a reminder of your conversation. Trade shows can have thousands of people attending. By giving a business card to a person you are talking with, that person is able to be reminded of you and your product after the show is over when looking through the cards that they received.

An exchange of business cards seems more respectable than just walking up to every guy in a suit and asking for his business card. Introduce yourself, and have a genuine conversation, THEN offer your business card and ask for his/ hers. People will be more inclined to talk to you when contacted later on, if they are able to pull out your business card and confirm that they have actually met you before.

Staples or Kinko’s can produce cards for you in 24 hours. The card should have your name, the name of your product, telephone number, email address, and if applicable, a website address where people can find more information.

* When choosing the email address to put onto your business card, make sure that it is professional. An email address like HOT4CHICKS@EMAIL.COM is not professional. Likewise, the voicemail message associated with the telephone number should convey professionalism as well and should not be along the lines of “HEY GUYS, ITS ME! LEAVE ME A GOOD ONE AND ILL GET BACK TO YA ASAP!”

Record all conversations!

Not literally record the conversation (FYI: It is illegal to record a conversation without the other party’s consent.), but take notes.

After you meet someone that you have exchanged business cards with, wait until you are away from the person, and write on the back of the business card key information that you learned about him/ her. Key things to remember:

  • The companies you discussed.
  • Investors and manufacturers mentioned.
  • Possible friends he/ she said might be interested or may know someone that can help.
  • Where they are from.
  • How long they are in town for. (If they are staying longer, you may be able to set up a meeting while you both are still there.)
  • Children, spouse, or other personal information mentioned.

This information will help you to remember them and also to make them remember you when you contact them.

A telephone call or email will be more likely to be responded to positively sounding like:

Hello Mr. Smith, this is Joe, we met at the software convention in Dallas last week. How was the trip back to Tampa? You had mentioned that your friend Sally, who works for Microsoft, may be interested in my product, and I was wondering if you would be willing to make an introduction…”

Any conversations that you have with this person, need to be documented so that the next time you contact him/ her you can remind them of the last time you talked and what you talked about.

DO NOT underestimate, neglect or tarnish any relationships that you have made!

Contacts are so important to any part of the intellectual property selling process. Creating and keeping contacts, in any line of work, can at some point in time, be a life saver.

Anyone that gives you their contact information should receive a follow-up email. A quick and concise email stating, it was nice talking with them and that you look forward to speaking with them again soon, should be the minimum.

As an inventor dedicated to seeing your invention sold on store shelves, you cannot afford to have anyone giving you a bad reputation. Integrity is all anyone has in this world, and if your word isn’t good, then who will want to trust you? At all costs, avoid ignoring contacts or tarnishing relationships, because even if you think that he/ she could never help you, you may be wrong.

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Manufacturing Quotes- Checklist Week 5

December 8th, 2008

Manufacturing Quotes for Your Product

Last week’s focus was on the importance of quality presentations. This week, we will discuss how to obtain manufacturing quotes and their importance in moving an invention closer to market.

THE CHECKLIST
PROTECTING MY IP
CREATE PROTOTYPE AND DRAWINGS
DO RESEARCH
CREATE PRESENTATION MATERIAL
GET MANUFACTURING QUOTES
CREATE COMPANY CONTACTS
SEE MY PRODUCT ON STORE SHELVES
RECEIVE ROYALTY CHECK!

One critical step in the invention process is obtaining manufacturing quotes. As an inventor, you must know the cost of your product in order to be taken seriously by potential partners. The manufacturing cost will play a role in many of your financial projections.

The best way to obtain manufacturing quotes is to work with a prototyping company that regularly works with inventors and has experience working with products in your given industry.

You want to ensure that the company you choose to work with has the capability to produce production quality drawings, help you choose the proper materials for your invention, has engineering experience to ensure your products integrity, and has vast experience with prototyping and going to production.

Here are some things you want to look out for:

  1. ‘Prototyping company’ where you speak with a salesperson rather than an engineer.
  2. A company that will not sign a basic non-disclosure agreement.

For prototyping, we follow a five step model:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Engineering
  4. Prototyping
  5. Production

Many inventors do not have the resources to go to production. Obtaining quotes will give you more information about what it will take to get your product to market.

Having already conducted your market research and having a general idea of the price point at which you can sell your product, your manufacturing cost per unit will help you determine your anticipated gross margins at various volumes of production.

It will also give you a clear picture of the overall total investment it will take to get your product to be production ready. Costs will range from engineering to molds. These costs play a vital role in your discussions with partners who will be taking a risk in working with you.

If nothing else, the quotes will give you an idea of what the other party will have to risk and may make you a little less greedy. Remember to value what others can bring to the table. It is rare for someone to become successful trying to accomplish everything on their own. Many inventors have no interest in “sharing the pie”, however, it will mean nothing if your “pie” sits there rotting while you’re still waiting on a fork to eat it.

This week: How to get manufacturing quotes

Next week: How to Create Company Contacts to Fast Track Your Invention to Market

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Presentation Materials- Checklist Week 4

December 2nd, 2008

First Impressions are Everything

Last week’s focus was on conducting market research. This week, we will discuss the importance of quality presentations.

THE CHECKLIST
PROTECTING MY IP
CREATE PROTOTYPE AND DRAWINGS
DO RESEARCH
CREATE PRESENTATION MATERIAL
GET MANUFACTURING QUOTES
CREATE COMPANY CONTACTS
SEE MY PRODUCT ON STORE SHELVES
RECEIVE ROYALTY CHECK!

First impressions are extremely important. Psychologists say first impressions have a “primacy effect”. The “primacy effect” in essence is the base for all impressions moving forward. So, if you make a bad first impression, all future opinions will be influenced by the first negative impression.

Solomon Asch, a famous psychologist, performed an experiment in which he provided two groups of students with a list of character traits of a speaker prior to his arrival.

The first group was given a list that described the speaker with ‘cold’ traits while the second group was given a list describing the speaker with ‘warm’ traits.

Upon the completion of the speech, the students were asked to describe the speaker as either cold or warm. Overwhelmingly, the students of group one rated the speaker as “cold” and the second group overwhelmingly rated the speaker as “warm”.

The significance of the experiment was that each group had listened to the same speaker give the same speech. It demonstrated the impact that first impressions have on an individuals view whether it is a reference someone has made, a cold call, or a letter you have sent.

This factor is extremely important for inventors to realize. Keep it in mind throughout getting a product to market. Not setting a proper first impression can hinder your progress significantly.

For Example:

  • A product development executive receives a hastily recorded and unplanned voicemail about a ‘great idea’ and never returns the call.
  • A customer sees a poorly packaged product and questions its quality in a split second leading them not to buy. The packaging is later improved – the customer still questions the products quality.
  • A potential buyer receives a package with unimpressive materials – she never opens the presentation.

These types of situations happen on a daily basis for many inventors. While a product may be of high quality, many inventors forget that their behavior and presentation has a large impact on whether that quality will ever even have the opportunity to be evaluated.

EVERY interaction is a presentation. You should have verbal ‘material’ prepped for plan phone calls and tangible materials for group and individual presentations.

Let’s use a man named “John” who has invented a new flat tire repair product as an example.

John calls a potential distributor and leaves a voicemail saying, “Hi, this is John. I found you online and I have a product you are really going to be interested in, call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx and I’ll talk to you more about it”. Do you think John will get a call back?

The chances are that he will not. Contrast that with a voicemail discussing the same product such as this, “Hi, This is John Williams from Tire Doctor. While conducting research, I found that your company is the largest distributor of fix a flat online. Our team recently received a patent on a new version of fix a flat which has shown to fix up to 50% larger holes and holds for 4x as long making it the strongest and longest lasting product on the market. Additionally, the product is produced at a fraction of the cost allowing for us to provide larger margins for our distributors. Please call me at your convenience at xxx-xxx-xxxx to further discuss a potential partnership”. Will John get a call back?

The chances that he now will get a call back will go up exponentially. He has, in his ‘first impression’, demonstrated higher value, intelligence, and courtesy.

Additionally, if you get a call back but have poor presentation materials it is likely you will be working uphill against a force you could have avoided. Presenting your product deserves a good amount of time and thought.

Your initial presentation should be no longer than 10 pages in length in size 14 font (people will not read what is hard to read). The presentation should talk about your products features and benefits and should ALSO emphasize the benefits to them whether it is a distributor or a direct retailer.

If you are interested in personal hands on services to help position your product for presentations to potential buyers, feel free to email me at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com for further consultation.

This week: The importance of quality presentation materials

Next week: How to get manufacturing quotes

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Patent Research- Checklist Week 3

December 2nd, 2008

Research is Key!

Last week’s focus was on creating a prototype and drawings for your invention. This week, we will discuss how crucial it is for you to research everything about your invention. Because next Thursday is a holiday, we will be sending out the newsletter on Wednesday, so watch for it a day early!

THE CHECKLIST
PROTECTING MY IP
CREATE PROTOTYPE AND DRAWINGS
DO RESEARCH
CREATE PRESENTATION MATERIAL
GET MANUFACTURING QUOTES
CREATE COMPANY CONTACTS
SEE MY PRODUCT ON STORE SHELVES
RECEIVE ROYALTY CHECK!

Being told to research may remind you of being in school and preparing to write a report. Well that is basically what you will be doing. Hopefully this won’t turn you off to the idea of it, because it is so important for your invention.

Now that the internet has made it so easy to access information, at times it can make us forget about the good old fashioned LIBRARY. I would recommend using both. The library has a lot of the same information that the internet has, but it will always be free. With the reliance upon internet search engines, companies have begun to charge you for information that was certainly published in a book, and that book is probably sitting at your local library.

Here are some search engines that I would recommend using, other than our beloved Google.

    1. The Thomas Register

The Thomas Register is a great tool for specified searches on manufacturers and suppliers.

http://www.thomasnet.com/index.html

    2. Hoovers

Hoovers offers a searchable database of companies, executives, and expert advice.

http://www.hoovers.com/free/

    3. IndustrySearch.com

IndustrySearch is a great resource if you are looking to do market research on the tech or manufacturing sectors.

http://www.industrysearch.com/

If these websites do not allow you to find the information below, try visiting the library.

With that in mind, let’s talk about what you should be researching. If you haven’t done one already, you certainly need to start with a search on potential competition. Some of you may be saying that your product is the first of its kind so it won’t have competition… WRONG!

You created your invention to solve a problem. Chances are there is already something on the marketplace that is currently being used to solve that same problem.

Research that product and the companies that it is affiliated with. Find out how long it has been on the market, how it is being manufactured, sold, and distributed. Write up a summary of the information that you have found, it may even be beneficial to do a comparison with your product.

After analyzing the results you may consider placing your product on a similar path.

Using your competitor as an example, you will need to find out who your potential users are, down to demographics. Demographics for the consumers of your industry can be found when doing your industry research. Before you begin that, start by asking yourself who is going to want to use your product and why? Try to narrow down as much as possible, WHO your target buyer is.

Start your industry research by narrowing down what industry your product should be placed in. Get as specific as possible. For instance, if you have invented a new type of pencil, you might consider your product being sold in through the office supply industry. An industry more specific to your product like writing utensils would be more beneficial. Specificity allows for more opportunities. Consider if you had gone with office supplies as your industry, you would have lost out on the school supply market.

The market that you are going to be supplying your product to is constantly changing. Some markets change with consumer spending, and some don’t. Some markets only last a year. It is extremely important for you to research the market’s history, and the anticipated changes that the market may go through. These changes will affect your product, so they are extremely important to be aware of.

Industry and market research can be frustrating and time consuming. As an added down side, much of the information on the internet is usually not free. Here is a tip for finding out information about your market or industry:

Find out what publications are specific to your product. Think about which of them would have the same or similar target audience. Look at the media kits and advertising information that they are providing for their advertisers. They have already paid to have this information researched and typically, they are placed on the website.

This write-up of all of the research you have conducted, will be a great tool in your decision making process, and also something you can use in a presentation for potential buyers or investors.

This week: In-depth Research… CHECK!

Next week: The materials needed for a great presentation!

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Patent Prototyping & Drawings- Checklist Week 2

November 17th, 2008

Realizing your Invention

Last week’s focus was on the protection of your intellectual property. This week, creating your prototype and drawings should be on the forefront of your mind. As you move along the checklist, each step is crucial, so keep updated with the newsletter!

THE CHECKLIST
PROTECTING MY IP
CREATE A PROTOTYPE & DRAWINGS
DO RESEARCH
CREATE PRESENTATION MATERIAL
GET MANUFACTURING QUOTES
CREATE COMPANY CONTACTS
SEE MY PRODUCT ON STORE SHELVES
RECEIVE ROYALTY CHECK!

Now, you are ready to create proof of your idea. Proof that it CAN be made, HOW it will be made, and when it is made, IF it will work. Looking forward, these are the questions people in the industry want answers to.

Start with the drawings, if you do not already have them. These directions are based on USPTO guidelines for drawings when filing for a patent. It is better to make your drawings to meet the guidelines now, as opposed to being forced to re-do them later.

High quality, thick paper is best for your final drawing, but you may want to practice on cheaper material. The drawings should be done in black and blue ink on paper that is 21.6 cm wide and 27.9 cm long. Refrain from writing in the margins. Reproduction will be easier if the lines are dense, dark and well-defined.

Use consistent proportions throughout your drawing so that it will be clearly understood. Number every drawing or figure and every element that you have a description for. The numbering should be done consecutively. Numbers should only be given to elements of the drawing that you refer to in your description. There should not be text on the drawing unless it is necessary for the understanding of the invention.

If you are sending your drawings anywhere other than to the USPTO, date and sign your drawings so that no changes can be made without your approval.

It is important to remember that these drawings will need to be reproduced, so take good care of them. The paper should be flawless with no creases or folds.

After you have the detailed drawings and descriptions of how your invention will be designed, you can start on the road to your prototype. This is only an early stage model. It’s simply something to look at when describing how it will function. The prototyping phase is important because until you can actually play with and use your invention, you cannot be 100% positive that it will work.

A real, working, tangible version of your invention is a step that will feel like a leap in this process. A working prototype says that you are an inventor with serious intentions.

Start with a handmade prototype. Use the things that you can find around the house, inexpensive things that you don’t have to worry about making a mistake with. This will give you something to use for explanations and demonstrations, until you are able to upgrade.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the main purpose of your prototype is to solve the problem it was created to solve. At this point, it just needs to work.

Drawings and prototypes are helpful tools when pitching your invention, so create them wisely.

Now you are just one step further to gaining credibility for your invention, and ultimately selling your idea!

This week: Create a tangible working prototype and explanatory drawings… CHECK!

Next week: Research and More Research!

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.

Intellectual Property Protection- Checklist Week 1

November 12th, 2008

Store Shelves…CHECK! Royalties…CHECK!

Over the next couple weeks our newsletter is going to be based on a checklist for getting your patent to market. Each step is crucial, so keep updated with the newsletter!

THE CHECKLIST
IP PROTECTION
PROTOTYPE AND DRAWINGS
DO RESEARCH
CREATE PRESENTATION MATERIAL
GET MANUFACTURING QUOTES
CREATE COMPANY CONTACTS
SEE MY PRODUCT ON STORE SHELVES

RECEIVE ROYALTY CHECK!

Protecting your intellectual property is the first and most important step in the inventing process. Use the USPTO’s recommendations to ensure that you are as protected as you think you are. There are ways to market and sell your intellectual property without formal filing, but the only way to GUARANTEE that you are protected is to make sure that you are patented.

I highly recommend starting with a provisional patent. They are inexpensive compared to a full patent, and they protect you for a year while you are doing market research. The results of your research will let you know if you want to continue to move forward and spend the money for a full patent.

protecting my idea

While you are awaiting your provisional patent, you will be in a patent pending status. This is good, but there is always a chance that you could be denied for one reason or another. In order to make sure that you are covered, use partial disclosure when you describe your idea to anyone that has not signed a non-disclosure agreement.

If you are wondering how to explain your idea without giving it away, use this to help you:

“Selling intellectual property is like selling a cake. Show the buyer how good it looks. Show the buyer how good it smells. Let the buyer taste how good it tastes. You can show them why it will work and why it will sell, but you don’t have to give them the recipe.”

Anyone who knows about your non-patented intellectual property should be signing a non-disclosure agreement. Now when I say anyone, I mean anyone. Friends can easily become foes, people get divorced, and some people just have big mouths. If they know that they are legally bound to keeping your idea a secret, they will be more likely to actually do it. Keep several non-disclosure agreements on hand and this will be easier to accomplish.

This week: Protect your idea and CHECK it off the list!

Next week: Creating a prototype and drawings!

About the author of this article:

Lindsey Yeauger is the Director of Communications for Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com- The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property. The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email her at Lindsey@IdeaBuyer.com.