Licensing Intellectual Property / Inventions

Everyone gets a great idea from time to time. More often than not we just say "hey wouldn't that be great" and go on with our day. Why don't more people follow through with the great ideas they have? It could be that they think it will be more trouble than its worth, that they don't have the resources to do it, or quite simply that they don't know where to start.

The reality is that every great idea has the potential to become a valuable asset. In fact protecting and developing your ideas can be a very inexpensive process that requires little to no technical knowledge. Most people think that to bring their ideas to life they need to spend thousands of dollars on a patent and build complex working prototypes. This is simply not the case.

The first step to developing and profiting from your ideas is to study the existing marketplace. Go to the local store that sells products similar to the one you have in mind. If it cannot be bought in a store check online. Pay close attention to the types of materials these products are made of. The features they have, the prices they sell for, and the benefits each of them offer. Knowing what products yours will be compared to will help you pin point exactly what makes your product better, and may even give you some ideas to add.

Next you will want to start on some type of visual representation of your idea. This can be as complex as a fully functional prototype or as simple as a sketch or drawing. If you can't make a fully functional prototype try to make a clay, Styrofoam, or cardboard representation. You can also get inexpensive 3d computer renderings of your idea done by local college students. If you have the technical knowhow go ahead and combine these ideas into a distributable DVD or promotional pamphlet.

You will need to create what the industry calls a "sell sheet" a sell sheet is basicly the resume of your idea to be submitted to manufactures who would likely produce your product. Like a resume, the sell sheet should begin with a statement of intent. or a "Benefit Statement" this is where you will put the info you found out at the store. answer the question "what makes your product better than existing products." Next you will want to include any graphic renderings, pictures, or descriptions of the product that you think the manufacture will be sold on. Finally, all current contact information so that they can get back to you after they have become convinced.

Before you start telling people about your product you will defiantly want to get some protection. A cheap and easy way to secure your idea is to file a PPA or Provisional Patent Application. You can file one of these yourself without any complex knowledge of patent laws this can be done online for around $100 dollars. (Check out LegalZoom.com) You will want to include some pictures of your models or any drawing of the idea. The PPA will give you the right to say "patent pending" effectively protecting your idea for 12 months.

Now its time to contact some manufactures who would likely sell your product. Be sure to use the phone and get permission to send your sell sheet by fax, email, or snail mail. Manufactures will not look at sell sheets sent without permission, to them its just junk mail. When you make the call ask to speak to the person who handles new product idea submissions. If their not available ask for their name and contact information. When you do finally get to talk to someone confidently spout off the benefit statement from your sell sheet. The idea here is to peak their interest and inquire about more information. Regardless of their enthusiasm ask politely if you may fax or e-mail more information to them. If they agree you have successfully gotten your foot in the door!

If you want to start patenting and licensing your ideas today. You really should also read Patent It Yourself or Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks for Dummies. These books will give you even more tips and tricks to help you on your way. Just click on the links to get yourself a copy!

Patent It Yourself

Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks for Dummies

HINT: Don't get discouraged when the first manufacturer turns you down. What do we do when we fall off the horse?

HINT: If you want you can contract a third party make your prototype just make sure you get them to sign a "work made for hire" agreement. This document will insure that they cannot claim any ownership on the final design of the product. You will also want to make sure the document includes some wordage to the effect that any improvements made by the contractor shall be considered owned by you.