Author: Jack Lander

Play with This Idea: The Toy Invention Market

You often don’t need a patent, but the toy invention market can be a challenge. It’s hard to believe that more than a quarter century has passed since “Field of Dreams” was in theaters. You may recall the famous line from that movie: “If you build it, he will come.” The “it” is a baseball diamond; the “he” is Shoeless Joe Jackson, a baseball legend from the early 1900s. Ray Kinsella, the farmer to whom the incorporeal voice had spoken, builds the diamond. Shoeless Joe shows up to play, along with the seven other Chicago White Sox players who had...

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Steps to License Your Invention’s Patent or Patent Application

1. Decide the kind of trade show that will have appropriate manufacturers present. 2. Search the internet, and make a list of those shows. 3. Phone or e-mail the show’s management and ask how to qualify to attend, and if there is a charge for non-displayers. Many trade shows discourage walk-ins who are not legitimate buyers. Some will want only a business card. Others will demand proof—such as your business license— that you really are in business, and a potential buyer of the wares that will be shown. 4. Ask the show’s sales office for a list of companies that will have booths at the show. If this upcoming show’s list is not yet available, ask for last year’s show’s list. 5. Research those attending companies that have a product line into which your invention appears to fit. Go to their websites. Call for an annual report, which often indicates the direction in which their product lines are headed. If their products are on display at a retail outlet, check them out. 6. Call the company and ask if it has a “new-product submission policy.” Most big companies will not even read an unsolicited new-product proposal until we sign an agreement to the effect that our only rights are those granted by our patent. That sounds scary at first, but in the end, that’s how it will work out...

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Seeking a Licensee? Think Trade Shows

It’s the best place to meet company executives among other benefits.  There is no more productive way to find the right licensee for your patent than by meeting the presidents or vice presidents of appropriate companies. And there is no better place to meet them face-to-face than at a trade show. Here’s why: • The president and vice president of marketing are often the only bold risk-takers in the company. The closer you get to the bottom rung of the marketing hierarchy, the greater your odds of rejection. Rejection is safe. Licensing is risky. • The president and vice...

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Some Cautions Before Contacting Angels

You must have more than a great idea. A patent application, a professional prototype and realistic assessment of your product’s or service’s commercial potential are minimum early assets. These are usually financed by you or your friends and family, but don’t promise the farm. Your angel may want 49 percent of your business, and if you give your relatives 20 percent to get started, you’ll end up with only 31 percent. Maybe that’s the only way to start, but a good friendship could be lost. You’ll need a business plan, but most plan templates are too complicated and too...

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Angel Investors May be Looking for You

Older form of backing for your invention has merit, but plan well.  I know, you want to read about angel finance, and that’s what I want to write about. But be patient while I tell you a bit about crowdfunding first, because that’s what most inventors have recently dreamed of as a promising means to finance their ventures. The first dedicated crowdfunding platform was in 2000. The process became popular as we now know it around 2008 when Indiegogo began, and 2009 when Kickstarter began. Tales of people throwing money at promising inventions circulated quickly. Obtaining financing from people who didn’t expect an arm and a leg in return seemed too good to be true. But as we all know, there is no such thing as free lunch. And while it is possible to raise a substantial amount of money through a crowdfunding campaign, it isn’t highly probable. A few facts: Kickstarter’s and Indiegogo’s overall campaign success rate is said to be about 35 percent. Of the 172 sites that I counted, some of them have success rates in the 10 percent range. The average amount of money in the success range is about $15,000. Successful projects start with early funding percentages. Those who achieve 35 percent of their goal in the first week are said to have a better than 90 percent chance of reaching their goals. Read...

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