Idea Company Selection
What to look for in an idea company
There are several companies that will offer to help you develop your new product idea. Outlined below are key identifiers that you should consider before deciding to work with them. The USPTO provides warning signs for inventor entrepreneurs to look for when working with an idea company.
Free Idea Review
Companies, including an idea company, need to make money to cover their costs of their employees and services. If they are saying that they will review your idea and provide a free review, remember the old saying… ‘You get what you pay for’. This is likely a dishonest ploy to bait and hook you onto something else but IF they do give you something for free, be weary of the validity of the material.
According to the USPTO, some companies ask inventors to pay for market research as an application process for working together. While we are advocates for market research, we are aware that not everyone approaches it the same way we do.
Knowing your competition, industry standard pricing and most likely avenues for launch is extremely beneficial information to have before you start developing other aspects of the product. For instance, if we begin branding or packaging, we need to know what aspects of the product are most important to differentiate it from the competition.
Scope of Work Statement
No provided scope of work is a RED FLAG. A verbal promise means absolutely nothing. While you shouldn’t expect that a company will give you the recipe for their business, you should expect them to outline the product’s needs for development clearly, in a written document.
‘Poor Man’s Patent’ Recommendation
Somewhere someone believed that if an idea was sent through the mail back to the sender, it was considered protected. The “poor man’s patent” does not exist. Most knowledgeable idea development companies know this, or at least they should. In order to truly protect your idea, you need to file with the USPTO.
Patent Search Without Explanation
If you are working with someone who is qualified to do this analysis, they will provide you with whether or not your idea is able to be patented and then give you more information on how to go about proper protection.
Anyone who tells you a patent is guaranteed is wrong. Just wrong. There is no way to know if the USPTO will or will not approve your patent. A skilled patent attorney can do everything they can to ensure a higher probability, but there is no guarantee.
Design vs. Utility Patent
Advice on patents should only be offered by a registered patent attorney, representing you and your product. Design patents are meant to protect the visual appearance of the product. A utility patent will cover the proprietorial information on how the product works. From our experience and as stated by the USPTO, design patents have a limited range for most inventions. Once the product is fully developed and selling, then there may be a need to protect the design of it to keep people from copying the visual identifiers and trying to confuse customers as being the same product.
Real Office Location
Any company that is truly developing a product will need to have a staff and place to conduct the mass amount of work that goes into the process. The validity of the company can easily be determined by confirming a brick and motor location and the team of people that work there.
If someone working for the idea company is telling you that they KNOW your product idea will be successful, be skeptical. While the belief in the idea may be positive, elaboration may be necessary. Within our company, we do not work with products unless we THINK there is a good chance for success. However, we also don’t always know.
(If we ever meet, ask me about the product we turned away, thinking it wouldn’t be successful… well, it’s now all over the place. Talk about not always knowing!)
There are so many variables in bringing a product to market, that for an idea company to say they guarantee success is lacking knowledge or acting foolish.
Case Studies and Results
Anyone (yes, anyone) can do a reference phone call and say the idea company was great to work with. The USPTO does say to beware of reference contacts that have been paid. It makes sense, right? The company is the one providing you with the references.
In my opinion, the best way to avoid running into paid, false, or unreliable references is to research. Case studies identifying specific products the idea company has helped can provide a valuable analysis.
Where they were when they came to the company? What the company did for them and where they are now?
Additionally, any idea company that has had success developing products will highlight those successes. Look into them. Is the product selling somewhere? How does the product look? Does it seem like it is going to be a successful business?
Forms and Agreements
Have your attorney review all of the documents given to you, before you sign them! I couldn’t agree more. Lawyers know legal jargon. They can point out things that maybe wasn’t easy to understand to clarify what is being agreed to, before you sign.
All in all, trust your instincts. If the idea company doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. For more information about how the USPTO recommends you protect yourself against invention promotion scams, view their document here.
For more information about how Idea Buyer can help you develop your idea into a product based business, Contact Us!