Read these 36 Invention Services Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Invention tips and hundreds of other topics.
Did you know the US Patent and Trademark Office offers specific kinds of invention services and inventor help? In addition to finding detailed and updated information on obtaining patents, protecting inventions and conducting a patent search, you can take advantage of its Independent Inventor Resources. To find this service, visit www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip. On this USPTO site, you'll find information about invention help scam protection, financing and marketing an invention, on-line chat transcripts about inventions and inventing, information about ebusiness and ebiz alerts, as well as related news. The Internet is full of invention information on a variety of topics but use it carefully. Thoroughly investigate what you learn with other sources as some information may not be correct. Also ask about the history of an invention services, and its success rate and reputation before paying them any money for services. One invention services company, Invent Help, is a credible firm that offers a site on inventors and inventions at inventhelp.com. There you'll find: inventors and inventions in the news, articles of interest to inventors, invention help links and invention trivia. If you are in the process of perfecting or marketing your new invention, your head is probably spinning with patent law details and copyright basics. Visiting online sites may give you stories about individual inventors and their inventions and that form of learning is also essential as you embark on launching your new product or technology.
One of the most important types of inventor help is invention marketing. The world of marketing is so vast, it's hard to know where to start. And, just because one avenue of invention marketing worked for someone else, it may not be the best way for you to increase sales. There are lots of ideas about invention marketing online at websites like inventhelp.com. But, be leer about invention marketing companies that promise too much for too little. They often take advantage of inventors naive to marketing and try to offer 'cookie cutter' approaches for different types of new inventions. One term often used in the field of marketing new ideas is invention positioning. Unfortunately, many inventors think--if they have a great product--people will find them, and the money will come rolling in. You can ask many former inventors if that's true and they are likely to laugh. Successful inventions are marketed in the right way to the right audience at the right time. This is positioning. You cannot define your invention as the greatest shovel ever. You must identify specific features and their benefits in order to know how to position your invention. You should also gather impartial testimonials and document the results of focus groups and other marketing research. If you need to find help from an investor, find one who already has success in the industry in which your invention belongs. Just because someone has money to invest doesn't mean they will in your invention. Positioning is not saying, "I know this product will make it big." Positioning identifies specific consumers in specific markets who are willing to pay a particular price for a particular product with particular features.
If you find what you think is the perfect invention licensing company to handle manufacturing and selling your product and they end up a failure, what can you do about it? Unfortunately, not very much. Invention licensing companies may be representing other products as well and they simply may not pay enough attention to yours. That is why you should carefully choose and negotiate with any entity that will license your invention ideas. However, there are some ways you can protect yourself in these situations. First, you can insist that the agreement include minimum royalty payments. There are both simple and complex ways to formulate this arrangement into your agreement, but it guarantees you will have some income from your product each year. The amount of these payments is based on the estimated difficulty of bringing the product to market and estimated annual sales based on research. If these royalties are not met, you have the right to find another licensee. If your potential licensee will not agree to this type of minimum royalty payment, some experts believe you should obtain a non-exclusive license, which allows you to negotiate with other parties as well. Keep in mind, if you have an exclusive license arrangement, it will be your only source of revenue. Another way you can protect yourself if you license an invention is to demand some up-front fee be paid to you. This does not guarantee success either so consider the demand carefully as it may also mean your ongoing royalty payments will be based on a smaller percentage or the licensee may choose not to do business with you at all.
One way you can make money on your patented idea is through invention licensing. While you might be leery of giving up some control over what happens to your new product, keep in mind that finding a seller, manufacturer and buying public all on your own will be costly and time consuming. You may simply not want to go through all that, especially given there is no guarantee you will earn a profit in the end. There is no guarantee a licensee of your product will earn you profit either but there's a good chance--if you negotiate wisely--you could become quite successful as someone else will be taking on a majority of the expensive and time consuming work of launching a product. There are two types of basic license agreements: exclusive and non-exclusive. In an exclusive agreement, only one licensee has the power to manufacture, use and sell the product, while a non-exclusive license allows for more than one to do so. Even big corporations obtain non-exclusive licenses to help them earn money on their inventions. But which one is best? It truly depends on the circumstances and the strength and talent of the licensee. You should gain assistance from a patent law firm or another qualified invention services company before you agree to license your product. Having more than one licensee might create competition which may yield more profitable outcomes for you, but that means you have more administrative burden to keep track of your invention ideas. You could make more money if you have multiple licensees but, then again, if you find the right licensee--who can successfully market your product all over the world, that might be the better option. Learn all you can from professionals, the Internet and the library about licensing agreements before you decide it's the best decision for your newly invented product.
Ask the invention submission company you're interested in if they can provide you with a few case studies of inventions that they have worked on. What were the stages they took the invention and inventor through, what the time line was, and if the example is typical.
Another important show that every inventor should try to attend is INPEX. It's America's largest trade show for inventions and new product ideas. In addition to being able to see what the invention climate is like, the show organizes Inventor University. Seminars, workshops and panel discussions can help you learn about every aspect of inventing, invention licensing and more.
The Internet is full of resources that will give an inventor help with every step along the way - from patent information and starting a business to funding projects and designing prototypes. So hone up those research skills and watch one informative site lead you to another and another.
There are many credible invention licensing companies to choose from. Just do your homework, get references, check with the Better Business Bureau and you'll be set. Working with an invention licensing company could help you find opportunities for your new invention idea.
It's easy to find examples of the power of a logo. Consider the Nike swoosh or the Target bulls-eye. These logos have been so well marketed that consumers can identify the company by its logo before seeing the printed words. People often react to symbols more than words alone and that is why you might consider developing a logo as part of your invention marketing plan. That way, people can begin to identify your product with a specific symbol and this greatly enhances any marketing work you do. If you are adept at computers you might be able to develop your own logo. But, it might be best to get a professional to do it for you. If the logo isn't properly developed, it might not have a professional appearance when it is produced in mass. Graphic design firms and marketing firms have artists on staff that can create a logo for you. Or, if you know someone who is a graphic artist, you might be able to pay directly for the services to be done after work. You can also consider calling a graphic design school and asking if your logo can become a class project. Newly graduated graphic artists may even do one for free in an effort to enhance their portfolios. People often make common mistakes when creating a logo. Here are some tips that can help:
*Don't create a logo that is too busy. If there is too much going on, the human eye will naturally look away. Consider the Nike swoosh again and the power in its simplicity.
*Don't try to say everything there is to say about your business in a logo. Communicate a key idea instead. The Target logo doesn't indicate what the store sells but the idea that you've found the right place to buy.
*Don't use too many colors in a logo. This also causes the human eye to be overwhelmed.
*Don't create a logo that is too small. To be effective, people need to see your logo from a distance and still recognize it. Consider how your logo will look on letterhead, packaging and similar materials.
*Consider a logo choice carefully. Get a designer to give you at least three options. If you decide later you don't like it, it will be expensive and difficult to create and market a new one.
Although many inventors are engineers and scientists working for large corporations who know the ins and outs of developing innovations into products, many are regular people who believe they have a great idea. If you've got a great idea, but don't know how to see your invention through without sacrificing your job, inventor services might be a good answer.
So many companies out there are aggressively advertising to submit invention ideas to obtain new patents and promote new products for inventors. And its easy to see how time and time again, they find new inventors willing to hand over their money for a chance at having their new product make it.
Inventors put tremendous time and effort into their products. And, they become so close to it they lose objectivity. Only about two to three percent of all inventions are successfully marketed, but that doesn't mean inventors should lose their optimism.
Parent your invention as you would your child. Nurture the strengths. Be willing to compromise. Steer clear of unhealthy relationships and protect it from harm. There is no reason why your invention can't be in that two to three percent that makes it. And you increase your chances substantially when you have a plan that includes making investigated decisions at all times.
One of the biggest obstacles to the success of independent inventors and entrepreneurs with new inventions is that you really have to be a jack of all trades – not just inventor but marketer, administrator and more. Unless you have the resources to start a company and hire a small staff, how do you prioritize and implement on all fronts?
Hire a licensing company to help put legs under your invention. Invention licensing companies can represent your product to their clientele of marketers and business owners. From patent submissions to creating prototypes to trade shows, invention licensing companies have been responsible for the success of many products.
The most experienced and reputable invention services firms maintain databases of companies who are willing to review new invention ideas in confidence. A good invention services provider will attempt to match your invention with several companies that have expressed a general interest in a similar field of products, via the use of government SIC codes.
The invention of the Internet was one of best innovations an inventor could hope for. With the proliferation of invention and patent informational web sites, invention blogs, forums and ezines, inventors can easily keep up with the latest on inventing, patents and more.
But, when looking for resources, don't neglect those online sources that help you stay current with your industry and with marketing and business trends as well. Here is a list of a few of the best online resources for inventors. We'll leave the rest for you to discover.
Because our economy is powered by innovation, prestigious competitions have been established to recognize and reward scientists, engineers and inventors for their hard work and perseverance. If you think your idea can make the grade, these awards will provide the monetary assistance to help bring your ideas to fruition.
- The Lemelson – MIT Prize awards $500,000 to individuals who turn their ideas into inventions that change the world we live in and improve life for all of us.
- The Collegiate Inventors Competition is open to graduate students and awards over $75,000 in prizes to both the student/inventor and their academic advisors.
- The Invention Convention, an annual trade show and new products showcase each year awards several prizes including the Bulbie – a lifetime achievement of innovation award. They also give out 25 awards to inventors of new products based on the products' usefulness, inventiveness and redeeming social or environmental qualities.
- The Frieda J. Riley Teacher Award recognizes American teachers who positively impact their students. The award is named after the teacher depicted in the movie, October Sky.
Find out about fees for invention services before you sign with an invention services company. Although there are some invention services companies that offer contracts based on profit percentages, these companies are highly specialized and do not accept many clients. A reputable invention services company will tell you exactly what they will charge for their work before the you enter into any agreement to work with them.
If you really want to get your invention juices going, attend the Licensing International trade show. As the world's largest licensing trade show representing the $175 billion licensing industry, it covers every conceivable product across all consumer product sectors. They also have seminars and workshops for new inventors and first time attendees.
If you're represented by an invention company, ask if they have a booth at this show. Chances are that they do and if so, lobby to get your product represented there. The show literature boasts that 86% of attendees initiate or finalize deals here.
Before signing with an inventor services firm you should question a company representative. Make sure you understand clearly the invention services the company will perform for you, as well as the amount of risk involved. Reputable inventor service providers offer the answers to these questions in a straightforward manner. Beware of investor services companies that make unrealistic promises about your success. Optimism is great, but you want to work with a company that knows the difficult realities of marketing new inventions.
If you're interested in working with inventor services, here's inventor information that can help you avoid making a costly mistake.
The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 gives you a few protections when dealing with invention promoters and invention licensing companies. Before they can enter into a contract with you, they must disclose the information about its business practices during the past five years including:
- how many inventions it has evaluated,
- how many of those inventions got positive or negative evaluations,
- its total number of customers,
- how many of those customers received a net profit from the promoter's services,
- how many of those customers have licensed their inventions due to the promoter's services.
This information can help you decide which invention services firm you want to hire.
Working with an invention services company can save you both time and money that you can use to develop your invention. Invention services companies are experts in providing a wide variety of services including basic researching, illustrating, production of business materials, development of a data base of companies for submissions, creation and disbursement of press releases and patent attorney services.
These services purchased individually by an inventor could cost much more than the fees of an invention service firm. In fact, many inventors could pay more for the services of a patent attorney alone than for those offered by an invention company.
Don't be discouraged if you're having trouble finding financial assistance for your new inventions. It will take extra work to find and get the funds that are available to help inventors, but it is possible. Look for grants and other government funding programs for new inventors. Many government agencies – such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy's Invention & Innovation Program – provide free information about grants and funding opportunities for independent inventors.
It could save you time and money to accept a referral to an independent attorney from your invention services provider. A reputable invention company can often refer you to an independent patent attorney or agent to perform patent services such as a U.S. patent search and opinion, as well as the preparation and prosecution of a U.S. patent application. In many cases, patent services obtained through a referral from an invention services company are less expensive that what you could have found on your own.
Invention services take on a wide spectrum of tasks, one of which is licensing. When looking to license a product, it is standard to do two steps.
The first is to develop a licensing strategy. Do you want to offer an exclusive license to one partner or develop several non-exclusive licensing arrangements? Does your invention belong in one industry or does it have applications to a variety of industries you can offer your invention to. These are some of the issues you will need to lay out in your licensing strategy.
Your second step is to develop a SWOT analysis that includes your intellectual property's strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Any potential licensee will prepare this, so you will also need to be prepared to face these issues during any licensing meetings and negotiations.
For a small fee, the USPTO will list your patent as ready for licensing in their weekly gazette. This inexpensive inventor's help can be a part of your larger marketing strategy. Check with the USPTO for information about including your invention patent in the Official Gazette.
If you haven't yet constructed a working model of your invention, look into virtual prototypes. These “digital prototypes" often consist of a computer-generated image on CD-ROM that shows your proposed invention in 3-D. Some virtual prototypes even allow you to rotate and manipulate the image for convenient viewing on all sides. A virtual prototype CD also might display things like the invention's features, advantages and market information.
Before you sign up for help from an invention services company, ask the company for references. Talk to these people about what they liked and didn't like about working with the company, what they would do differently next time and if they recommend working with the company. By talking to inventors who have worked with the invention services company, you'll be able to get a better idea of how the company works and whether it deliver the services that you are expecting.
A good invention submission company is worth its weight in gold. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unscrupulous ones out there that tarnish the entire industry. You don't have to be discouraged from hiring one, just use some common sense and do your homework. Here are some places to check before hiring any invention submission company:
- Call the USPTO at 1-866-767-3848
- The Better Business Bureau
- The Attorney General in your state or city, and in the state or city where the company is headquartered.
- Under the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, invention promoters must give you the names and addresses of all invention promotion companies they have been affiliated with over the past 10 years. Use this information to determine whether the company you're considering doing business with has been subject to complaints or legal action.
Good news for inventors. Inventors' help is available for every stage of your invention development. You still have to come up with your own ideas, but that's the fun part anyway. If at any point you need invention services, you can let them know where you are in the process and they'll be able to point you in the right direction.
Among other help, you can enlist experts to help you with patent services with invention licensing, with prototype creation or with marketing your invention to interested companies.
Don't let a lack of understanding about one aspect of the invention process keep you from advancing your invention. Get help as soon as you need it so that you can continue doing what you do best: inventing.
Just because you've hired an invention services company to work with your new inventions doesn't mean that you can relax and let them take over. Use your inventions services company as a resource. Learn as much from them as you can about the invention marketing, invention licensing, or invention patent services that they are performing for you.
By being as involved as you can, you'll know whether or not your invention services company is doing what you hired them to do. You'll also learn more about the invention process that you can use for your next new inventions.
Although several well-meaning firms may claim to provide assessments of new invention ideas, the reality is that no one can accurately predict how a particular product idea will fare in the marketplace. Unless performed by companies interested in marketing, manufacturing or distributing new invention ideas, these assessments are generally of little value, and you should be wary of any firm who offers to evaluate your inventions for a fee.
Whether skimming through the pages of magazines or searching online for invention services, you'll find lots of companies ready to promise inventors success in obtaining a patent or licensing their ideas.
Proceed with caution. While there are many excellent legitimate companies out there, there are also a growing number of companies and consultants whose main interest is in emptying your wallet. Taking advantage of the fact that many inventors are insecure about the legal ins and outs of obtaining a patent, they charge high fees for less than ethical practices. Here are some rules to follow:
- Check with the USPTO Web site for published complaints
- Don't pay large up front fees. Legitimate companies earn their money as commissions on successful sales.
- Check references carefully.
Take advantage of any classes for inventors offered by your invention services company. These classes can give you pointers on everything from concept development to marketing. Because it benefits them when you are a more successful inventor, some invention services companies will offer inventors help classes for free when you purchase another of their services. This can be a great deal for a new inventor.
o help you wade through the invention licensing maze, consider working with an invention licensing company. These services can help you protect your rights and your trade secrets as you try to sell permissions to use your invention. Especially for new inventors who don't have much experience dealing with contracts and negotiations, working with an invention licensing company might make a lot of sense. If you work closely with your invention licensing agent, you may learn a lot that can help you when it comes time to attempt to license your next invention.
Before you consider hiring an invention submission company to help you obtain possible sellers for your new invention, peruse some inventor information and make sure that product is safely protected. You should fully investigate patent law and filing appropriate patent claims. But if you also created a logo to enhance your packaging, that logo should be copyrighted. Copyrights are handled in a different way than patents. Copyrights protect pictorial and other types of graphic works. It ensures you can profit from your creative work in this area. It gives you control on how and when your specific product logo is used or produced. Since a logo can contribute so greatly to your brand and consumer loyalty, you should obtain copyright protection. In the US, a copyright is essentially in effect as soon as you create an original work. But, for a small fee, you can register your copyrighted materials with the US Copyright Office. This will give you a much better chance of winning any copyright disputes that may occur. Before you consider registering a logo as copyrighted, you should search available databases to ensure that no one else has a similar logo in use. If logos are considered too similar, they can cause confusion in the minds of consumers so be careful your copyright does not infringe on someone else's. Sometimes symbols are considered too familiar to be copyrighted. You cannot copyright words or phrases so it you have a tag-line to describe your product or brand name that should be trademarked through the US Patent and Trademark Office. To obtain more detailed and current information about copyrights, visit copyright.gov.
If you are an inventor who's not sure where to begin, working with an invention services company could be a good option.
Types of inventor services these companies may offer include patent referrals or submission for review by interested companies. Any inventor services firm you explore should provide you with an explanation of its invention services and fees right up front. An good invention services company will also be forthright about the chances for success.