When it comes right down to it, profiting from inventions can be quite simple. All you have to do is determine who wants your invention and find out what companies will develop it into a product, approach these companies and establish a mutually satisfactory value and compensation basis for your invention, and finally sip margaritas on the tropical island of your choice. Okay, that last bit is probably somewhat unrealistic, though there are a few who have accomplished such feats.
Really, though, the process of commercializing your invention and receiving royalties does not have to be complicated. Mostly, it involves good, old-fashioned common sense; a realistic, methodical approach; the ability to communicate effectively with others; and plenty of hard work and perseverance.
This book will help you focus your common sense and develop a realistic, workable plan for commercializing your invention. It will show you how effective communication with a network of industry contacts will help you research your market, target potential business partners, and strike a good deal for your inventions. You’ll have to supply the hard work and perseverance, but as an inventor, you already know all about those.
Ultimately society benefits from good inventions. Though new inventions are not necessary for existence, some inventions make life on the planet better for people and for the environment. The planet’s population is not getting any smaller, and population growth alone will create new challenges and problems in the years to come, necessitating new solutions. This gives inventors a sort of open season for the foreseeable future.
Inventions can only provide a benefit if they come into commercial use. The Inventor’s Bible will help you convey your valuable knowledge and developments to others so society can benefit and you can gain fair and just remuneration for your ideas.
The Climate for Independent Inventors
Forty years ago, many corporations had substantial research and development budgets, and the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome was prevalent throughout the country, for that matter throughout the world. The NIH syndrome is characterized by the arrogant belief that no one can improve on the company’s own research and development efforts; therefore, companies turned away outside inventors. If it was “not invented here,” they didn’t want it.
In the 1970s corporations became very competitive, and budgets for research and development were among the first to be slashed. As a result, in the 1980s corporations were starving for new products and technologies. There were corporate buyouts; when a company was losing ground in its market, it often bought out a division of another company that had compensatory sales velocity. Corporations also started to show some interest in inventions from outside sources.
In the 1990s and now, invention licensing is at an all-time high. Licensing is in vogue. Corporations have departments for licensing in and licensing out. Many large corporations are now offering disclosure agreements and welcoming submissions from outside inventors.
One of the biggest turn-offs for companies is being approached by uninformed inventors with unrealistic expectations. Inventors often submit inventions without doing their homework; they are notorious for submitting inventions to the wrong type of companies. This wastes everyone’s time. I will tell you how to identify and communicate with companies in the appropriate industries to help you ascertain: whether there is a market for your invention, what the perceived value is for your invention in the marketplace, which of those companies may be appropriate to commercialize your invention, and how to structure the best deal to maximize your potential profits.
Why Did I Write This Book?
There is a great deal of information available on the subject of patenting and negotiations. However, detailed information about how to get from product development to finding manufacturers and licensees is largely missing. There is also a general lack of information for inventors on some of their most vital concerns: What is my invention worth? What steps should I take first? Is free government help available? Who can I trust, and how can I keep from getting ripped off?
When I invented my own safety product for automobiles at the ripe age of twenty-one, I had all the same concerns. I proceeded down an arduous path, asking others, “What do you do when you think up an invention?” Within three years, I was capitalized, and the product was on the market. My success brought me into contact with other inventors who sought assistance, so I began Docie Marketing, an organization dedicated to helping independent inventors make it down the rocky road of invention development. I now have twenty-five years of experience as a successful inventor and invention development consultant and can provide a first-hand account of the licensing process to even greater numbers of inventors with this book than I can in my business.
What Is in This Book?
The Inventor’s Bible is a primer for beginners and a detailed overview for experienced inventors and entrepreneurs. It is an in-depth how-to manual on the commercialization process: how to research the market for your invention, how to find manufacturers and potential licensees, how to develop a licensing and commercialization strategy, how to identify risks, how to effect commercialization on a low budget, and how to select professionals to help you.
This book explains how to generate money from your invention through licensing. If you want to start a business or commercialize your invention on your own, this book will show you how to develop a realistic market projection, learn the competitive conditions in your industry, identify market and financial risks, and assess other factors important to an inventor or entrepreneur.
As I know from experience, it can be hard for inventors to make the leap from drafting table to marketplace. Chapter 1 is a reality check to help you start looking at your invention in the light of its marketability and its licensabilitytwo things that unfortunately have little to do with whether an invention works or is a fresh idea. This chapter also considers the pros and cons of starting your own invention-based business versus licensing your invention to a manufacturer.
Chapter 2 deals with patent strategy, challenging the notion that applying for a patent is always the first thing an inventor must do before starting the marketing process. Chapter 3 cracks the commercialization code, showing you how to find people in your trade who can provide you with help in the commercialization process. The techniques in this chapter and the next three are at the heart of what I do as an invention development professional.
Chapters 4, 5, and 6 teach you how to target companies that can make and distribute your invention. As you zero in on these companies, these chapters will guide you through protecting your rights, understanding a company’s perspectives, and getting the best possible deal or deals for your invention. Chapter 7 advises you on finding professionals who can help you manage the process.
Throughout this book, numerous sidebars highlight tips and tidbits of information that will help round out your perspective on this process, and provide insider strategies and techniques that may come in handy. I offer insight gleaned from my years in the profession in sidebars marked with this symbol. Sidebars that contain a strategy or technique have this icon next to them. Three case studies are threaded throughout the book, with a segment following the Introduction and each chapter. These real-life examples provide interesting stories of life in the commercialization trenches and teach lessons about both successes and failures.
The end of the book is chock full of information and resources. The appendices include a list of invention evaluation criteria, a sample confidential disclosure agreement, a risk/reward ratio test, a quick-reference flow chart of the invention commercialization process, an inventor’s questionnaire, information about patents and patenting, and a helpful glossary of terms. The extensive inventor-oriented resources section lists free government programs, sources of grant money, useful Web sites, comprehensive databases, inventor’s organizations, relevant publications, conferences, and much more.
The Meaning of Success
What determines whether an invention will be a success or failure? Achieving success is like climbing a ladder. One step is finding and contracting with the manufacturers that will produce your invention. The next successful level is to have your invention distributed to the marketplace. Another step may be to actually receive royalties for your invention. Yet another step may be to receive more money for your invention than what you paid out. Ultimately, inventors would like to see their invention put in the hands of all those people who could use it. I hope The Inventor’s Bible helps you climb to the top of your ladder.