One key to success as an inventor is to discover early on who are your friends and who are your enemies. Your friends will help you to succeed, your enemies will help you to fail.
Inventors have 2 friends and 2 enemies.
Two Friends of Inventors
Two friends that every inventor should be aware of and embrace:
- Members of your local inventor's club
- Your patent attorney
Inventing is a strange career with many emotional ups and downs and most inventors do not achieve commercial success with their products. You will soon discover that it is unproductive to talk to your friends and colleagues at work about your invention (more about this later). They will never understand what you are doing and, more especially, why you are doing it.
Guess who will understand what you are doing and why you are doing it? Other inventors in your local inventor's group. There are inventor's groups or clubs in all 50 states and most major cities. The members of these organizations are inventors like you, also patent attorneys, prototypers and other helpful resources. Everyone in the organization is going through the same crazy process as you are – it is like a 12 step program for inventors. But, you will get lots of ideas and help from the members; you are all in this together.
Inventor's clubs are the best resource I have found as an inventor – definitely a friend to the inventor.
Another friend for every inventor is their patent attorney.
Finally, there is an attorney who can actually help you to make money! He or she is definitely your ally and friend during the long, circuitous path of multiple years required to prosecute a patent successfully. A good patent attorney is worth his weight in gold.
Two Enemies of Inventors
Here are the 2 enemies:
- Your friends and colleagues at work
- Invention submission companies
Every new inventor feels excited when that aha moment strikes and a new invention idea pops into her head. Finally, a solution to a vexing, annoying problem and it's my idea, she thinks. So, she tells all her friends and colleagues about her exciting new product idea. Bad idea.
We will assume that she doesn't divulge any key details, just high level stuff so her patent options are all intact. Still a bad idea to tell them. Why? They won't understand anything about the process. The more you tell them, the more they think you are crazy.
You are spending how much money hoping to obtain a patent? Oh, your product is not in any retail stores, so you have no sales or money coming in, only going out? You don't know if you will ever get a patent successfully issued or if you will ever license your product?
Suddenly the inventor feels crushed by all the negative opinions of friends and may question her own sanity.
These folk are enemies if you are an inventor; and it's best to tell them as little as possible.
Invention submission companies are likewise not your friends. There are very few companies that actually help inventors to license their products. The odds of success are very low and few companies could make much profit if their success is tied to the inventor's success (in licensing their product).
Invention marketing companies provide a variety of high-profit, boiler plate products and services that succeed only in draining thousands of dollars from the inventor's bank account. The invention marketing company succeeds the moment they cash the inventor's check. They will create impressive looking marketing studies and materials that they hand out to indifferent trade show attendees who simply dump them in the trash. Very expensive recycling.
Sometimes after being bilked of $10,000, $20,000 or more, the inventor will hire an attorney to sue the invention marketing company for fraud. Unfortunately the invention submission companies anticipate such lawsuits; their contracts with customers are vaguely worded and, upon detailed scrutiny, don't actually promise to provide anything beyond “marketing materials.” Marketing materials were provided as promised, no fraud committed. Case closed.
Invention submission companies are definitely not your friends.