The soft-back promises ‘The Best Advice from Idea to Payoff’

It’s the wise editor who says a good story is always worth repeating.louisbook

And while The Independent Inventor’s Handbook – The Best Advice from Idea to Payoff (Workman Publishing, July 2009) retells many aspects of product development found in previous works on the subject, it does so with contemporary relevance, singular commercial purpose and deft execution.

Co-authors Louis Foreman and Jill Gilbert Welytok make a formidable tag team and are eminently qualified to offer this latest edition to the inventor literary cannon. Foreman is a patent holder, a serial entrepreneur, executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Everyday Edisons and (full-disclosure alert) publisher of Inventors Digest. Welytok is a seasoned patent attorney with a gift for approachable prose.

The book strikes the right balance between encouragement and caution, aspiration and realism.

“An idea is an unproven concept that is a product of your imagination,” an admonishment the book offers early and often. “Ideas are rarely, if ever, marketable commodities until they become inventions. If you want to have something sell, you must maneuver through market research, product development, compiling cost information, and in all likelihood, securing a patent.”

Readers will find the insights on raising capital particularly helpful. Chapter 7, Money Matters: Finding the Funds to Bring a New Product to Market, explores conventional bootstrapping and angel funding, as well as creative ways to commercialize innovations, including how to navigate Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants.

Meanwhile, the book’s treatment of the relative value of patents is sophisticated and pragmatic. “A patent does not give you a right to sell your invention,” says Chapter 4, compelling titled, Protect Your Invention (With as Few Lawyers as Possible). “Rather, it prevents others from selling it.”

Case studies and other callouts punctuate The Independent Inventors Handbook. Most of these, such as Limitations of Design Patents and Is Drop Shipping Right for You? offer scope and illustrative context. However, the book at times relies too much on product-development examples from the Everyday Edisons show, which some might argue is self-serving for co-author Foreman’s business. Still, even these examples offer teaching moments for would-be innovators.

The Independent Inventors Handbook is geared for inventor-entrepreneurs, and focuses primarily on development of consumer products. Yes, other books have covered this topic. But few go as deep into the real-world aspects of entrepreneurialism and intellectual property.

Those who are serious about turning ideas into inventions would do well to add The Independent Inventors Handbook to their collection.

Ten Tips for Independent Inventors

  1. View a patent as a tool protect something that is marketable … not a piece a paper that’s going to make you rich.
  2. If you know you are going to file for patent protection, do so sooner rather than later to protect your rights.
  3. Use provisional patent applications before you have tested the market and fully developed your invention.
  4. View a patent as a legal document that defines important rights; don’t file one without consulting a registered patent attorney.
  5. If you being marketing your invention and later make changes that will add value in the marketplace, amend your pending application or file additional patents to protect those innovations.
  6. Visit the USPTO Web site and become familiar with the free resources that are available for individual inventors.
  7. Read your patent application before your attorney files it. You should fully understand every word in the claims and be able to assist your attorney in indentifying possible additional embodiments of your invention that should be covered in your claims.
  8. If anyone has contributed to the development of your invention, he or she must be named as a co-inventor.
  9. In the event of an office action with a USPTO examiner, you have the opportunity to talk in person with the examiner to help structure the allowable claims.
  10. Ask you lawyer for a checklist of things you need to do after your patent issues, such as paying maintenance fees. Abandoned patents open the door to hungry competitors.

Source: The Independent Inventors Handbook