Want to take on a challenging and risky business venture? Great, become an inventor!
Typically, less than 3% of all patent holders every profit from their inventions. Inventors who choose to launch their own business venture around their product will immediately face the following:
- High up front expenses: patent prosecution; product development, manufacturing and production
- Profits, if any, may not come until months or even years later
If the situation seems hopeless and impossible to manage, it is not. I said succeeding was challenging and risky, but not impossible!
Matching Your Situation to the Best Solutions or Paths Forward
One key to succeeding as an inventor is to pragmatically assess your situation and pursue a best-fit solution or path forward. Let's consider a common (and seemingly) hopeless situation:
Situation: Lots of Ideas – No Money
This situation is challenging: very few inventors with many fanciful ideas and almost no capital available will achieve success.
But there are a couple of approaches to move forward. First, cull “lots” of ideas to just a few that might have real potential as I described in a previous blog. From the remaining few ideas your paths forward consist of potentially licensing to either Quirky.com or Lambert & Lambert.
Quirky.com is a company in New York that has a staff of engineers and lots of equipment and resources. They move promising projects forward to production rapidly by crowd sourcing for solutions to challenges and problems until a workable product emerges. There is a small fee to submit your ideas, if they select your idea as worth pursuing, they will pay you a royalty on sales if it succeeds commercially, even if you do not have a patent! While chances for being chosen are low, there is no other company I know of that pays a royalty without a patent in place.
Lambert & Lambert is one of the few bona fide companies to provide resources to inventors to help successfully license their products. You would need to have at least a provisional patent in place to move forward (can be done for less than $100) and a utility patent will be required a year later if you go forward (cost is closer to $5,000). If your product is moving forward you can very likely find a creative way to manage the utility patent later. Lambert & Lambert charges an evaluation fee to assess your product. They will work to license your product (in exchange for a share of your royalties) if the product receives a high enough score from their evaluation.
Of course, taking our product to either Quirky.com or Lambert & Lambert is no guarantee of success. But, either may be an option to move forward for a person who otherwise has few options.
In the next blog Inventing Success: Situations and Solutions – Moving Forward, Part II we'll consider a different circumstance and solutions.