PDA

View Full Version : Any inventors here?



Bob Adams
02-11-2007, 01:27 PM
I've been taken to task a number of times here because I am a blue collar worker and seem to suffer from a lack of vision. (Not true, I once had a boat repair shop as times employing 12 people) Anyway, I have an idea to use existing technolgy in a new way to solve a wide spread problem. How can I proceed, while protecting my interests with little or no capital?

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 01:29 PM
Me too...

Paul Girouard
02-11-2007, 01:38 PM
You can't , develop the idea and sell it , the idea, not the finished product , with so clause that gets you a % of sales from said idea.

If you try to produce a produce a bigger fish will shallow you up before it can be marketed.

Who's been bashing you BTW because your blue collar??

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 01:41 PM
people who hold themselves superior...I have a relitive who's wife (a nurse) believes she got smart by going to college...she is not very smart but she does have the vellum to tellem

ishmael
02-11-2007, 01:53 PM
Hm. I had a friend awhile back who invented a nifty gun lock. It was simple, fit a bunch of applications, could lock a multiple of gun types, from blocking the chamber to stopping the trigger, and fit on a key chain. He went through the patent process, got it patented after tens of thousands in fees. It never caught on.

His advice, with an invention I had in mind for keeping pet food, was make it and market it. Forget the patent unless it's something really unique. His was on the border of really new with his gun lock, and no major manufacturer picked it up. So Carlos's gun lock has never seen much light, and he's out a year's college tuition in fees to patent lawyers.

Good luck! I have a BA, and tentative reaches toward advance, but in no way encourage any obeisance to degrees. I think Edison had a fifth grade education.

blacksmith
02-11-2007, 01:54 PM
Phillip, if you think you have a good,commercially viable idea,document it very carefully in a note book.Drawings,sketches,descriptions,dated,signed and witnessed.Then,locate a patent attorney, NOT an "invention service "as advertised in the back of a magazine,to determine if your idea is patentable. Then go from there.

Tom Hunter
02-11-2007, 01:57 PM
Bob,

Try the SBA (Small Business Administration) they can be a good place to start.

It helps to talk to others who are trying to develop ideas or start companies, the trick is to find people who will not steal your Intellectual Property (IP). Very few people can actaully develop an idea into a product, so you don't have to be terribly secretive, but being a little thoughtful is wise.

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 01:58 PM
Phillip, if you think you have a good,commercially viable idea,document it very carefully in a note book.Drawings,sketches,descriptions,dated,signed and witnessed.Then,locate a patent attorney, NOT an "invention service "as advertised in the back of a magazine,to determine if your idea is patentable. Then go from there.

I have the idea but need an electronics person to bring it to fruition...the right partner who likes to tinker.

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 02:02 PM
Well, I'm an electronics person :)

PM me ifn' ya want to.


Okay...I will (I'll need some time to figure out how to write it up...see ya later)

David Tabor (sailordave)
02-11-2007, 02:08 PM
I too had a good idea. And researched it online at the USPTO.GOV site...

SEEMED like I found a niche. But when it came time to build a working model (locking device) I had some setbacks. Then life intruded...:(

BUT the idea is still rolling around in my mind.

Best advice I can give you is keep copious notes and ANYONE you get to help you or get advice from, have them sign a NonDisclosure agreement.
IF someone markets a device that is like yours... you have a paper trail.

MOST inventions now will incorporate some other patented ideas to some degree; defining how YOURS is better/different is the key.

Good Luck

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 02:19 PM
yep...I'm aware of that

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 02:36 PM
I hope he was paid outa the personal assets of the perps and their families

KNOCKABOUT
02-11-2007, 03:20 PM
I have some experience here... and I have had success spending money upfront on a patentability study, which usually costs 3k, and if it turns out to be favorable - brace yourself - the patent fees are a killer. Find yourself a partner, I did my first time out...

George Roberts
02-11-2007, 03:25 PM
There are a lot of "good" ideas that need just a "little" help.

I know the fellow who patented the use of "blue" headlights. Not rich from that idea, but a nice income stream.

Dan McCosh
02-11-2007, 03:55 PM
Dan McCosh or Katherine may be able to fill in a few details - there was a fellow who developed and patented a circuit board for vehicles permitting the intermittent feature on wiper blades, sometime in the early '70's IIRC.

Of course the Big3 liked the idea and 'developed' their own somewhat similar systems soon there-after. I think the court cases dragged on for 25+ years - the guy lost his family and everything he owned suing the automakers but he finally won.

He had a patent.

Can you imagine him trying to get any justice out of the legal system, or any recompense from the automakers, if he didn't have a patent?

The intermittant windshield wiper patent was a classic case. The case did drag on, but he didn't lose his family and everything he owned. What happened was that he died, and his sons won the case. Auto-related inventions don't generally involve patent disputes, however, as the larger problem in such a massive business is assuring a source of production. This means that components generally are required to be made by several suppliers, with minimal if any patent protection, to prevent one source from limiting production.

ishmael
02-11-2007, 04:22 PM
Well, as to patenting or not, I'm just telling my friend's experience. He went through the process, his invention didn't catch on. If it's something truly unique, by all means, patent it. But otherwise save the money for marketing.

Two cents.

I've got the problem of stale pet food licked. It isn't on the level of a light bulb, but think on it. When was the last time your cat gave you an evil eye because the kibble was a bit past? What I need is an east Asia manufacturer and a business plan.

Patents? Ha. I wouldn't patent it. But it's still a good idea.

Uncle Duke
02-11-2007, 04:23 PM
It's not hard - you can completely protect your IP ("intellectual property") by filing a 'provisional patent application'. Starts your protection, gives you a year in which to develop, market, get funding, whatever you need, before you have to file the real (read: expensive) application.
I think it's $75.00 or $100.00. Easily worth it.
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/provapp.htm

pipefitter
02-11-2007, 04:33 PM
I have a few inventions and there is nothing in existence that is close. One has to do with ballistics and it would turn modern ballistic technology on it's ear. The problem I found with the patent process is you would have to protect the original idea and every variation of it that someone might find. I won't disclose the idea but will let them see it in action at one of the promotional product shows(smokescreen it in another direction so that they can't research it) and just let them see that somehow,my idea just works exponentially better than anything they have and if someone doesn't want to pay because they have to be the first to know how,I will take it to the grave with me.
I recently built a console arrangement for a boat that a large boat manufacturer scabbed and made a whole other series of a boat line based on my idea. Not only did they use my idea,they used pictures of the actual one I built in their(Ranger Banshee Extreme) ad.Bad part being,we were offered a contract to build this package for a large distributor of these type boats,plus install the outboards and rigging which would have amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Too bad for them in a way. I have a book of trend setting designs (300 and counting) that noone has thought of that would make their boat the one to have to have if they played their cards right. I won't even share them with my current employer, being I warned him about using the Ranger idea unprotected and he just blew me off. Now somehow,it has become "OUR" idea, even though he was one of the one's that laughed about it when I built the prototype for my own Simmons skiff. "Ha ha...that will never sell". Mmmmmhmmm.He knows I am up to something.

I have a whole other multi- multi million dollar market I am currently after that hasn't been touched but will not initiate it until I am not working where I am now.I am too busy raising my kids to put time into it.I don't want to short them any of my time so I am currently committed to that.I am saving this for when I start my own business after this one goes by the wayside. Already built a few and had to hush it because it was going to end up being someone elses venture, along with the credit and I will be the little guy in the shop building it for wage. NOT.

paladin
02-11-2007, 04:43 PM
First, write it up very well, or get some help.....I think a first filing cost $15 at the patent office....I filed several this way...it gives you a year to get the rest of it put together...if you follow the rules as an individual, not a corporation, it is possible to get a patent filed for $350...if you do all the work and write everything in legalese and do all your own research.....you can do a preliminary search on line...but a trip to the patent office and a few bucks for a "credit card" to use in their machines will allow you to do all the patent related searches on your own.....but

it depends on what your idea is..but it can be an improvement on an existing idea or problem. Sometimes more can be made by keeping it a trade secret and building on it yourself.
One of mine was done that way..I licensed a company in California the use of the design...eventually they stole it and stopped paying royalties, but I made other improvements and licensed it to others, it killed their business but My royalties continued for almost 5 years....someone can always come up with a better mousetrap....

john l
02-11-2007, 05:00 PM
i'm in the business of product and brand development for over 30 years. i've done it mostly for corporate clients but also for myself or inconjunction with other inventors. it's uphill under the best of circumstances. but fun and exciting and filled with many nuances.
you need to be go flat out and then turn at 180 degrees at the same velocity.

my colleages say:
*ideas are a dime a dozen, it's what you do with the idea that counts
* no such thing as a bad idea because even the bad ones lead to good ones
* a patent is only as good as your ability to defend it.
*a patent is only worth it if you can derive income from it.
*100% of nothing is still nothing.
and there are many more classic phrases.
in the end, if you feel strongly about it, can rationalize the investment from market, financial, utilization and commercialization standpoints
then go for it. the provisional patent route is a great one. this is only about 10 year old. but you only have a year to act to have the benefit of your original filing date. it does make sense to find either business or corporate partners to help. if you can identitfy a marketer who would be a good fit from either manufacturing or marketing standpoints contact them and get to know them. but don't tell them anything till you have at least your provisional patent and i wouldn't show anything until i had a good prototype and understanding of manufacturing realities and costs.

it always kills me when i see a new product on the market that i had the idea for years ago. - but then i remember it's not only the idea, it's what you do with it that counts!

pm me if you would like to discuss any further. and best of luck in any event.

kc8pql
02-11-2007, 05:01 PM
Even with all the good intentioned answers your getting here, this is really not the place to look for this kind of information. Find a local chapter of The Inventors Council and go to a meeting. There are chapters around the country. Here's the link to the Tampa Bay group to give you the idea. Google inventors council to find chapters in other areas. http://www.tbic.us/

Tylerdurden
02-11-2007, 05:34 PM
I can tell you, don't invent something while in the service, Its US gov.
property and if your lucky you will get a letter thanking you.
Besides that if its a hot Item I will go with the earlier advice and market it as fast as you can. Patents are worthless these days.
The big fish can jump you and keep you holed up in court for a decade or more and if your real lucky they might settle for pennies on the dollar. The bean counters have it all figured out for the Aturnonmes.

Paul Girouard
02-11-2007, 05:53 PM
In some instances a patent will in fact tell everyone else what , and how your product is made. All they have to do is change a lil part of it and under price you.

In the eletronic world patents are death, make it , build it market it/ sell it , move to the next invention ASAP.

Tyler you ever apply for a benie sug.??

Bob Adams
02-11-2007, 07:21 PM
What I have in mind is doable with off the shelf materials. I have succesfully tested it. I predict if I offered it to a company making related products, I'd get a thanks but no thanks, then see my idea on the shelf 6 months later. I thank you all for good suggestions, some will be getting IMs from me!

Nicholas Scheuer
02-11-2007, 07:21 PM
The Inventor did make some money, but only several years down the road.

His Patent Attorney (like someone said above, do not use a "Patent Service") was someone he already knew, I believe, and the break here was that said Attorney was willing to take payment in instalments instead of a lump sum up-front.

I've always been told (I used to "invent" stuff for whomever I was working for) that the best way to prove when an idea was invented was to mail yourself an envelope full of the vital information, sketches, photos, whatever. But don't open it when it comes back; keep the postmarked envelope sealed.

I've also worked for businesses who maintained that patents weren't worth a damm, so just make some money manufacturing it as quickly as possible. This works in industries that cost a lot to "fill the pipeline".

Moby Nick

paladin
02-11-2007, 07:25 PM
I can tell you some cold hard facts.......most major corporations....and especially Japanese and Chinese ones, including governments, have folks that read all new patent applications and write detailed reports on them to get ideas for their own companies, including ways around your basic patent. If the country does not share U.S. patent agreements you must simultaneously file in several countries at once, this will be done by a patent attorney if he's worth anything, but the costs are horrendous.....that's why you need a commercial partner if you aren't gonna do it yourself.....
I have a patent attorney just down the street from me, he has done research, and was my coach on how to do things such as classified patents....it's a lot of work..
There's a chance to make millions if you've got the millions to defend your patent...not being negative.....sorta been there .....

Hwyl
02-11-2007, 07:50 PM
There was a similar discussion on here a while ago. Someone suggested "Patent it Yourself" from NOLO press. It's very good. I have it. 9another good thing to come from the WBF). The fees ae much more now than Paladin writes, a patent application is $1000.

I've heard lots of stories similar to those above. A recent aquaintance spent $25000 patenting safety glasses with bifocal like lenses. He has to buy the product from the company that circumvented his (written by a lawyer) patent.

paladin
02-11-2007, 08:33 PM
Prices may very well have changed...the last time I did it was 7-8 years ago....and immediately had to take some folks to court....although I sorta broke even and they got stuck with something they couldn't sell, collecting any actual damages is difficult, I find it easier to twist the market and do something else...

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 09:07 PM
Okay, It's time to take this another step.

To do this I will use Wal-Mart.

Phillip invents a left handed wiget, produces some and begins to sell them locally.

His business expands and he contracts (with borrowed money) with a job shop to produce more lh wigets and drives around supplying various retail outlets with his product

business expands

Phillip pays himself a bit more and contracts a larger manufacturer to make and packege lh wigets and gets a distributer to sell them on an interstate scale...

Wal-Mart comes to Phillip and buys a sampeling of lh wigets and puts them in its test stores.

Wal-Mart decides to sell lh wigets on a national scale and approaches Phillip to purchace all the wigets he can produce (inducing him to abandon his own customer base) and finds Phillip can't fill the stores the first time let alone Wal-Mart's ware houses.

Wal-Mart takes ten lh wigets to China and has them copied and ships shiploads back to the US and collapses Phillips business preventing him from repaying his debts and driving his left hand wiget company into bankruptcy...further starving Phillip's ability to sue for damages

end of Phillips business and the completion of hes being cut out of the cash loop of his invention.

dPhillip becomes a foot note in manufacturing history relegated to questions printed on pasteboard cards in a future version of Trivial Pursuit

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 09:10 PM
The purpose of the above story is to illistrate that there companies who do not develope any markets but wait for others to develope those markets then take over the markets

Hwyl
02-11-2007, 09:24 PM
de http://www.e-feet.de/grafics2/clips/big-ciara.jpgist

Phillip Allen
02-11-2007, 09:37 PM
what nice lookin little pink toes...

Hwyl
02-11-2007, 09:47 PM
When I did a google picture search I came up with all kinds of interesting stuff, she was one of the tamer pictures.

I know it's de-feat-ist btw.

Here's a report of some guys who did all right with a fairly simple idea http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/6343477.stm

boylesboats
02-11-2007, 11:33 PM
I sure ain't a inventor, but I make something and use it for myself..
Now I forgot how this thingy work, geeeez.........

PeterSibley
02-12-2007, 05:53 AM
You can't , develop the idea and sell it , the idea, not the finished product , with so clause that gets you a % of sales from said idea.

If you try to produce a produce a bigger fish will shallow you up before it can be marketed.

Who's been bashing you BTW because your blue collar??

further to selling it ...the contract should read ,sell ,lease or gain income from said invention by any other means ! There have been a few nasty little examples of income derived other than by sale leaving the inventor without income or recourse .

PeterSibley
02-12-2007, 05:58 AM
Okay, It's time to take this another step.

To do this I will use Wal-Mart.

Phillip invents a left handed wiget, produces some and begins to sell them locally.

His business expands and he contracts (with borrowed money) with a job shop to produce more lh wigets and drives around supplying various retail outlets with his product

business expands

Phillip pays himself a bit more and contracts a larger manufacturer to make and packege lh wigets and gets a distributer to sell them on an interstate scale...

Wal-Mart comes to Phillip and buys a sampeling of lh wigets and puts them in its test stores.

Wal-Mart decides to sell lh wigets on a national scale and approaches Phillip to purchace all the wigets he can produce (inducing him to abandon his own customer base) and finds Phillip can't fill the stores the first time let alone Wal-Mart's ware houses.

Wal-Mart takes ten lh wigets to China and has them copied and ships shiploads back to the US and collapses Phillips business preventing him from repaying his debts and driving his left hand wiget company into bankruptcy...further starving Phillip's ability to sue for damages

end of Phillips business and the completion of hes being cut out of the cash loop of his invention.

Phillip becomes a foot note in manufacturing history relegated to questions printed on pasteboard cards in a future version of Trivial Pursuit

Its a good example and it happens all the time .I guess I would imagine any business I established ...like the current enterprise , being a bit too small for the Walmarts of the world to be interested in ...but still profitable enough for my purposes .:)

ishmael
02-12-2007, 08:09 AM
Assuming we aren't talking a light bulb, I wonder if copyright might be more important than patent. That's basically free. I could make a statement right now, and copyright it on the spot. The formal process is a bit more involved, but as I understand it as soon as I proclaim it my intellectual property, it is.

Think about it. If you get a corner on a name that catches fire it doesn't matter who steals the idea and then tries to beat you at market. People latch onto the name.

Musings.

Popeye
02-12-2007, 08:13 AM
it isn't a stereo gun is it .. because if you had a stereo gun then kaos agents would have control agents outgunned 2:1

Joe (SoCal)
02-12-2007, 09:00 AM
i'm in the business of product and brand development for over 30 years. i've done it mostly for corporate clients but also for myself or inconjunction with other inventors. it's uphill under the best of circumstances. but fun and exciting and filled with many nuances.
you need to be go flat out and then turn at 180 degrees at the same velocity.

my colleages say:
*ideas are a dime a dozen, it's what you do with the idea that counts
* no such thing as a bad idea because even the bad ones lead to good ones
* a patent is only as good as your ability to defend it.
*a patent is only worth it if you can derive income from it.
*100% of nothing is still nothing.
and there are many more classic phrases.
in the end, if you feel strongly about it, can rationalize the investment from market, financial, utilization and commercialization standpoints
then go for it. the provisional patent route is a great one. this is only about 10 year old. but you only have a year to act to have the benefit of your original filing date. it does make sense to find either business or corporate partners to help. if you can identitfy a marketer who would be a good fit from either manufacturing or marketing standpoints contact them and get to know them. but don't tell them anything till you have at least your provisional patent and i wouldn't show anything until i had a good prototype and understanding of manufacturing realities and costs.

it always kills me when i see a new product on the market that i had the idea for years ago. - but then i remember it's not only the idea, it's what you do with it that counts!

pm me if you would like to discuss any further. and best of luck in any event.

Exactly, John !!!! I was a designer never an inventor. The difference for me, even though some of my products would be considered inventions I always looked at the "Inventor" as someone more concerned with protecting their precious invention, while a designer just moved on to the next design because they knew they had a head full of them.

It's hard enough to get a design off the ground and into production without the whole stigmatism of a patent pending precious precious invention.

FWIW this is a light design I invented using a mercury switch to activate when you "tipped" the lamp. The concept was poorly modified and stolen by the lighting company Artimide. I had pitched the design to them and then the following year a very similar design ended up in their line up. No biggy I just designed another light and called up their competitor and sold the design to them ;)

http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid63/p4d986361d4f8d746ebbd87990a013043/fc1afd6e.jpg

As long as you have a head full of designs / inventions you will never have to bet on one big score "invention". ;)

peb
02-12-2007, 09:09 AM
Patents are a double edge sword. Although they give you the rights to the IP, it is up to you to enforce the patent. And the patent itself told everyone how your invention works. If you have an idea that is very unique AND a knockoff is easy to detect, patents are very much worthwhile. With many things like software or electronic designs are very difficult to prove someone is using your IP.


Most large companies have lots of patents for defensive purposes. Some people say any new product will infringe on some patent, so if you come after me for infringement, I will go after you for infringing on one of mine. That is the attitude. We had lots of patents at my last company, but some of our really unique stuff, the hidden stuff that let our products do things our competitors didn't, were neveer patented.

At any rate, although protecting your intellectual property is very important in this day and age, a patent is not always the best way of doing so. And intellectual property is not always the key to success anyway, it is often knowing how to market.

Uncle Duke
02-12-2007, 09:40 AM
A key question here is whether you want to make money from the invention/design itself or create an ongoing business. In the first case, you develop the product, show the market exists, show that it can be profitable, and sell the idea/design to someone else - lump sum, royalties, or some combination thereof. In that scenario you probably want to have at least a provisional patent application in place, because that becomes an 'asset' which the buyer is paying for. Then you let them have the burden of creating an actual business.
In the second scenario, you create your own business around a proprietary invention/design. That would involve marketing, manufacturing, product delivery, support, overhead, etc. You may still want to take out a patent, in case you want to sell the company later - or sell the patent later (and license it back to yourself). Defending a patent is a wickedly expensive process, but can be worthwhile in the long run - if you can run that long.
Some people like the first method, some the second - both can be viable methods, but you'll need to choose one or the other.

ccmanuals
02-12-2007, 09:48 AM
My best buddy who owns a trailer manufactoring company developed this machine to automate the placement and pickup of road cones. To patent the machine took almost 2 years and lots of attorney's fees. He just showed it at a lare trailer manufactorers show in San Antonio and got a huge amount of interest from States and the Federal Gov't. Check this out:

http://www.centrevilletrailer.com/clkcount/click.php?id=2

peb
02-12-2007, 10:11 AM
My best buddy who owns a trailer manufactoring company developed this machine to automate the placement and pickup of road cones. To patent the machine took almost 2 years and lots of attorney's fees. He just showed it at a lare trailer manufactorers show in San Antonio and got a huge amount of interest from States and the Federal Gov't. Check this out:

http://www.centrevilletrailer.com/clkcount/click.php?id=2

He probably did not wast his time patenting that contraption. It seems very worthwhile and a lay person will be able to tell if someone stole any of the claims (very important if threatening an infringement lawsuit).

Evan Showell
02-12-2007, 10:51 AM
Buy a copy of "Patent It Yourself without a Lawyer" -- Nolo Press -- c. $45.00 at Barnes & Noble or other similar -- Perhaps less online. Read it and follow the advice in it, especially with respect to your "Laboratory Notebook" and how to document your invention as to date of invention because that may be the deciding factor in a patent fight.

Developing to license to others would appear to be the way to go if you can interest others in it.

A simple patent need not cost a fortune if you find competent, diligent counsel. You might get a simple patent for as little as $6,000 plus filing fees.

Michael s/v Sannyasin
02-12-2007, 12:19 PM
lots of good information on patents, but not many stress evaluating the idea itself.

When I have something I think is a great new idea, I'll first search through the USPTO website and see if someone already has a patent on the same idea... if they do, and my idea won't improve on that in any meaningful way, then I'll likely abandon the idea... if you proceed you might find yourself on the other end of litigation.

If you don't find anything that resembles your invention, then you have to ask whether there really is a market for your idea or not... perhaps you're in love with the idea, but maybe nobody else is. Did you ever see that show on T.V. where people pitched their inventions? Some of that stuff was pure crap!

Nicholas Carey
02-12-2007, 05:33 PM
Best advice I can give you is keep copious notes and ANYONE you get to help you or get advice from, have them sign a NonDisclosure agreement.

IF someone markets a device that is like yours... you have a paper trail.And without letters patent, that paper trail is worth absolutly nothing (unless the similar device is the result of someone violating the NDA). The one thing the paper trail might do is prevent another party from patenting the invention on the grounds of "prior art".