A Beginner's Guide: How to Rent Your Ideas to Fortune 500 Companies (Plus: Video)

stephen-key-photo.jpg

I first met Stephen Key in 2001. Two months later, I used a few recommendations of his — shared over the customary gin tonic — to help a friend double overseas sales in less than two weeks in New Zealand and Australia.

How? Licensing. It can be a beautifully elegant model.

Stephen is somewhat famous in inventing circles for two reasons. First, he consistently earns millions of dollars licensing his ideas to companies like Disney, Nestle, and Coca-Cola. Second, he is fast. It seldom takes him more than three weeks to go from idea to a signed deal.

He is not high-tech. There are no multi-year product development cycles. He specializes is creating simple products or improving upon existing products, often using nothing more than a single-sided drawing or photograph. Coupled with refined cold-calling skills, Stephen meets with some of the most influential marketing executives in the world. In this interview, we’ll explore how this advisor to American Inventor rents his ideas to Fortune 500 companies.

1- What exactly is licensing, and why is it a good option for people with ideas but little time or patience?

I think licensing is a bit of mystery to many people. It really doesn’t have to be.

Licensing is renting your idea to a manufacturer. The manufacturer handles the marketing, manufacturing, distribution and basically everything else required to bring the product to market.

Usually quarterly (four times a year), the manufacturer pays you a royalty on every unit they sell. This royalty—generally a percentage of the total wholesale price—is your payment for bringing them a new product idea that they can sell to their customers.

It’s an attractive low-risk alternative to manufacturing products and taking them to market yourself.

Using licensing, I can spend my time coming up with new product ideas instead of worrying about balance sheets, cash flow, employees and all the other hassles of running a company. I might pitch three ideas one month and no ideas for the next two months. You can have total flexibility with your work schedule.

Here’s one tip on how to make sure you get paid a certain amount four times a year.

Minimum Guarantees – So here’s why I use the term “renting” when describing licensing your idea to a manufacturer. It’s very important to make sure the manufacturer performs. You need a performance clause in the licensing contract. Without a performance clause, the manufacturer could just sit on the idea and do nothing with it. I’ve seen it happen.

Ensure you have a “Minimum Guarantee” clause in the contract. A minimum guarantee clause basically says the manufacturer needs to perform and sell a specified number of units every quarter or every year. Otherwise, you get your idea back and you can license your idea to another manufacturer.

It isn’t usually necessary to call in [enforce] the minimum guarantee clause. Most of the time you want to give the manufacturer a chance to perform. After all, you are partnering with them and they’ve spent big money on setting up their facilities to manufacture your new product.

Here’s another tip: Don’t front load the deal. I see many people with ideas doing this. They ask for large up front fees and make it to hard for the manufacturer to say yes to the deal. Instead ask only a small amount of money up front and scale up the minimum guarantees each quarter.

An example of minimum guarantees:

100,000 units quarter one

200,000 units quarter two

300,000 units quarter three

Let’s say the manufacturer sells 110,000 units quarter one. You would get paid a royalty on each of the 110,000 units sold.

Then let’s say the manufacturer only sells 190,000 units quarter two. The manufacturer can choose to pay you the royalty for the minimum 200,000 units they guaranteed you they would sell and they would retain the rights to manufacture your idea.

You should be OK with these “Minimum Guarantee” numbers since you set them up when you negotiated the contract. Set up numbers you think the manufacture can meet and that you’ll be OK with if the manufacture just meets the agreed upon “Minimum Guarantee”.

Of course you would prefer to earn royalties on 600,000 units every quarter, but you know you are guaranteed at least a certain “Minimum Guarantee” every quarter. This makes it nice when budgeting to buy that new sports car you’ve had your eye on.

2- I’ve heard you say that the most important thing you can do when licensing an idea is to spend as little time and money on the project before you get feedback from a manufacturer. Why?

Yes, that’s true. Unfortunately, it’s the exact opposite of what most people do. Most people go out and spend $3k to $20k or more on a patent and a few grand or more on a prototype first.

Time is the enemy in this process.

I’ve talked to inventors who have been contemplating or working on ideas for years. That’s not me. When I have an idea, it only takes me three days to three weeks to find out if the idea has legs.

On average, I recommend that my students take no longer than three weeks to three months before they make the decision to keep working on the project or dump the idea and move onto the next one.

Spend very little time or money on a project before you get feedback from manufacturers. The reason for this is simple: You’re not going to hit every idea out of the ballpark. Sometimes the benefits of the idea just aren’t intriguing enough. Maybe the idea has some manufacturing problems. Maybe the idea has been tried before and you didn’t find it with your research. There can be many reasons why manufacturers decide not to move forward with an idea.

You need to call a handful of potential manufacturers that might sell your idea. It takes very little time and next to no money to make the calls, and it’s the only way you’ll get the critical early-stage feedback.

File a provisional patent application ($100), create your sell sheet ($0-$80) and start making phone calls as soon as possible. That’s totally the opposite of what most people do. Most people dream or plan and research the idea to death.

The reality is that you will never be as knowledgeable about a particular industry as a manufacturer that been in the business for thirty years. They’ve seen everything imaginable in their product area. Their opinion is the only one that matters. Get your idea in front of them as soon as possible and get the feedback you need to pursue it or kill it.

Here’s a summary of my solution to the patent and prototype hang ups many people seem to have.

PATENTS:

PROBLEM (What most people do):

The majority of people I talk to think the first thing they need to do is go out and spend money to have an expensive patent filled by a patent attorney. Here’s why that’s wrong: Many times you’re going to get complaints from manufacturers that your idea needs to be fixed in one way or another. No problem. You’re creative and they aren’t. Go back to the drawing board and fix the problems the manufacturer presented.

The only problem is that if you’ve wasted $3k to $20k on a patent, now your going to need to file another patent covering the new features of your product. Another $3-20k? I don’t think so. There is a better way.

SOLUTION (My method for you):

Instead, spend $100 on a Provisional Patent Application (PPA). A PPA gives you one year to fish of the end of the pier to see if anyone is interested in your idea.

A PPA also allows you to say “patent pending.” It’s a huge benefit to the small guy! If you come up with a new version of your invention, just file another PPA with the additional features. With my approach, you should be able to get a “go” or “no go” in three weeks to three months.

Make sure to put another one to five months aside for negotiations and you’ll still have many months left on your twelve month PPA.

Then when you license your idea to a manufacturer, you’ll put in the contract that the manufacturer is responsible for paying your attorney to upgrade your PPA to a full patent and put it in your name! This is how I get multiple patents, in my name, paid for by manufacturers.

PROTOTYPES

PROBLEM (What most people do):

People think you need to have a polished and perfect prototype in order to sell an idea. I have sold many ideas with very simple prototypes and many without prototypes at all .

What people don’t understand is that you are not selling your prototype or your patent. I’ll say that again. You’re not selling your prototype or patent. You are selling the benefits of your idea.

SOLUTION (My method for you):

Create a sell sheet. What the heck is a “sell sheet”? It’s a regular 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper. It’s like an ad for your idea. It has the big benefit of your product in one sentence at the top, maybe a few sub benefits or features in bullets below and a picture or drawing of your idea. “Oh, but I have to build a prototype,” many will say. No, you don’t.

You don’t need a prototype until you get some interest. If you don’t get any interest, you haven’t wasted time on a prototype.

Your sell sheet should be like a billboard on the freeway. People should be able to glance at it for a few seconds and understand the benefit of buying your invention. They don’t need to understand every feature or hear you make clichéd statements like, “if we only sell this to 1% of all households in the country, this new idea will make millions”.

My one line benefit statement for one of my biggest ideas was, “I have a new label innovation that ads 75% more space to your container.” That’s it. I didn’t need to explain how when I called on the phone, they just wanted to know more.

Benefits, benefits. That’s what you are selling. Not your patent or prototype.

Stephen in motion: Repurposing existing products in 5 minutes for a call sheet model or prototype…

[To be continued in Part II: negotiated royalty rates, who to call within companies, product idea criteria, what product categories to avoid, and more]

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 400 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

494 Replies to “A Beginner's Guide: How to Rent Your Ideas to Fortune 500 Companies (Plus: Video)”

  1. Pingback: Taking Action
  2. Awesome tips Tim. Reading this approach a big “bell” went off in my head – along with the sound of my inner voice saying “duh!” – this is so much smarter than trying to handle everything yourself. I see usefulness for this approach not just in patentable inventions but all other aspects of virtually any type of business. I am immediately changing the way I handle all of my entrepreneurial activities based on this advice.

  3. Tim,

    Loved your book, which crystalized a number of things towards which I have been groping throughout my life as a micro-entrepreneur.

    As a writer/publisher, I thought the best way to say “Thank you!” would be with a suggestion for a minor copyediting correction in the next printing:

    The quote from Paul Theroux on page 248 should read, “It is fatal to know too much at the OUTSET . . .”

    Now try to get your pubisher to fix it! ROFL.

  4. Tim, I am not sure how you can have your hand in so many different pies at the same time , and be an expert at all of them … but this is amazing.

    I have been stuck in this ‘patent-invention-marketing’ area for over 10 years. I have not found the financial resources needed to patent my ideas. Or I would find the cost of patents and patent searches too intimidating when I am not guaranteed anything for my time and expense….

    But … after reading this blog today … I think I can finally move forward!! Thanks a million!!

  5. Sorry to say that, but this kinda awakens the skeptic in me. If it’s really that easy, why is there a $400 course needed for this? And the “This is how I earned a brazillian dollars!” success stories don’t help much.

    I’m not sayin that it’s snake oil, but as much business advice, it sounds a bit too repeatable, Charles Atlas-style.

  6. Thank you for sharing! It’s wonderful to have found other people out there who show such a zest for learning and for life, and willing to share that with others. I’ve been toying with a patentable idea for a month or so now, so this is timely.

    Now, it’s just a matter of making heads or tails of the provisional patent information on the UPTO site 😉

    Thank you!

    1. I bought your book “One simple Idea”. After reading it i knew I was at the point of making contact. So far I have made a few submissions but no replies. Should I keep calling until I get an answer or just simply move on.

      Does it matter who licenses it or will any company be ok? I have IP for world wide coverage and a working protoype. Initial surveying shows 97% of people would buy the product. The cover letter and sell sheet are in place but no results. Any thing you can suggest will be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

      1. Glen Hammond, (a person of interest), I am wondering if i can skip the 6 month process with Stephen key and his invent right website and just go straight into licensing. I’m only curious because i don’t have the funds saved to start his program, can you maybe help me figure out how i can start without having to purchase an entire coaching program?

        Thank you very much!

      1. how do i find these companies that rent ideas? i have a few and would liketo try a tleast one and see if this is real or a scam//ill use one that wont hurt if it fails [Moderator: phone number deleted] thanks

  7. What are some examples of actual things Stephen has done/does? Examples of what he’s taken to specific manufacturers and licensed to them that we’d know about?

    This sounds great and all, but I’m just not wrapping my head around coming up with a billion “ideas”, and turning around every few weeks and selling those “ideas” to somebody. Anyone can come up with hairbrained ideas….what makes this case so special?

    Pardon my skepticism 🙂

  8. Tim,

    This is another great post. Super helpful.

    I have been playing with a couple ideas for licensing and patents for a few years, but have not had the money to file them and risk the time and money to build a prototype and this post was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

    Awesome.

    I have the ability to move forward and see what happens now without much risk. Thanks!

    B

  9. Tim, I appreciate you presenting this topic…

    I am working in the field of character licensing with both new and niche market properties that definitely are not (yet) household names like Dora or SpongeBob.

    This may be out of Stephen’s expertise, but can he speak to how his strategies might be modified to benefit artistic Intellectual Property? It seems that the pitch to manufacturers in character licensing is much more about “riding an already established wave” than taking a risk on an “unproven” market presence.

    Does this mean that the Goliaths of the industry (Disney, Nickelodeon, etc.) will always have the advantage of sheer cash to throw around and impress potential partners? Or are there guerilla, “new rich” techniques that you and/or Stephen can suggest?

    Thanks again for the covering licensing. I like forward to the rest of the series.

  10. Tim, good suggestion about the provisional patent. From what my inventor friends tell me that’s the way to go. Not only protects your idea, but also makes companies more willing to deal with you because in a way it protects them too. You can of course only patent ideas for things that are functional, as opposed to aesthetic. For images and words you would get a copyright.

  11. Hi Tim, I loved your book! Keep up the insightful work. I’ve never heard of this approach with patents and have been at a road block myself because of the filing costs.

    Thanks Much, Melin

  12. Tim,

    Great post but two points:

    1) While intrigued, I, too, am a bit skeptic. This seems too easy.

    2) I think your readers (well, at least me) would love some information on selling one’s ideas to a company and how to avoid getting ripped-off.

    That is, XYZ company sees your nifty invention, likes it. Creates something similar that it can patent and then runs with it, leaving you in dust and uncompensated for your hard work and inspiration.

    1. I to would like to safeguard myself from the XYZ company who sees it’s a great idea and makes minor changes and leaves me with no recourse.

      1. You can cover this by having a good patent application. Read the wording, ask an industry expert to read it, get an alternative patent lawyer to critisize it etc, amend. This is a question of validity/scope of meaning and quality control.

  13. Pete wrote. . .

    “What are some examples of actual things Stephen has done/does? Examples of what he’s taken to specific manufacturers and licensed to them that we’d know about?

    This sounds great and all, but I’m just not wrapping my head around coming up with a billion “ideas”, and turning around every few weeks and selling those “ideas” to somebody. Anyone can come up with hairbrained ideas….what makes this case so special?

    Pardon my skepticism :-)”

    Hello Pete,

    You can view many of the products I’ve licensed by visiting my website and viewing the projects on the right side of my home page.

    Your right about coming up with ideas. It’s much easier to come up with ideas than to sell them.

    I teach some techniques for coming up with ideas, but knowing how to sell those ideas is the part most people don’t understand and the part of the process that I really emphasize.

    Knowing how to sell a new product is absolutely critical.If you don’t pick up the phone and call some manufacturers, the idea will just be in your head and it won’t go anywhere.

    I’m doing a free tele-seminar (phone seminar) this Wednesday. It’s totally free and there will be no big sales pitch for my course.

    It’s my way of helping out people who are new to the game.

    You can sign up for the tele-seminar for free, just go to the news page on my website.

    I wish you much success in all your invention related endeavors.

    Stephen Key

  14. Stacia wrote. . .

    “Thank you for sharing! It’s wonderful to have found other people out there who show such a zest for learning and for life, and willing to share that with others. I’ve been toying with a patentable idea for a month or so now, so this is timely.

    Now, it’s just a matter of making heads or tails of the provisional patent information on the UPTO site 😉

    Thank you!”

    Hello Stacia,

    I love your positive attitude! Here are a few words of advice.

    The patent office web site is great for doing patent searches, but won’t show you step by step how to file a provisional patent.

    The book “Patent Pending In 24 Hours” on my web sites resource page will show you step by step in common English how to file a provisional patent application. It’s a great book. I have no self interest in promoting the book. You can buy it at any book store.

    What the book won’t tell you is how to sell your ideas. 97% of all patents never make any more money for the inventor than the inventor spent on the patent.

    This is because most people thing the first ting to do is file a patent. It’s most definitley not!

    My advice is to do some solid research of the marketplace before you even spend the time to file a provisional patent. Patents don’t sell themselves.

    I wish you much success with your projects.

    Stephen Key

  15. This IS the SOLUTION for us “IDEA GUYS”!

    Awesome post Tim, thanks! I invented a residential illuminated address sign back in ’91. It was by far the best design on the market and could be manufactured at a great price. Because I was a perfectionist, I did the manufacturing and marketing all myself. Although I had started selling and earning a living only 2 years after concept, I wasn’t satisfied and wanted to take the product and marketing from 80% quality to 99%. That took 5 more years.

    I ENDED UP BURNT-OUT AND BROKE so I sold the company. Some successful (Porsche & Ferrari driving) young entrepreneurs bought it for a royalty (with no minimums) then shelved the idea. Over the 2 following years they lead me on, I went bankrupt and split with my wife and two year old. Turns out the “young entrepreneurs” were actually lawyers! They finally sold the company for $100 and gave me my one-sixth share. That was 9 years of my life, over $100k in manufacturing equipment and patents for $16.66.

    I HATE LAWYERS. I rented some trucks and thugs and went to the new company who bought my biz and reclaimed all my equipment. Then I visited my contact from the young lawyers. Actually I followed him to work and when he was stopped at an intersection, I took my tire iron, went over to his car, and SMASHED IN HIS DRIVER’S SIDE WINDOW, then dragged him out through it and expressed my feelings. I was very lucky to find a judge who was quite empathetic.

    WHEN I GOT OUT OF JAIL, I was truly renewed. I started another business right away, this time bootstrapping it and test marketing it before investing any money. In just 6 months it was worth over $2 MILLION and I paid off my investors from the first biz.

    Since then I’ve created an entrepreneur education program that teaches how to start any business from nothing using an initial promotion which not only test markets the concept, but if it’s successful, it can entirely finance your venture.

    ~Victory Darwin

    p.s. I’m really looking forward to part 2 of the Steven Key story. Everything he says about the PPA and sell-sheet instead of prototype is right on and yet hardly anybody knows it. Dan Kennedy taught me the DIY method to starting a biz, which is to create a promo, send it out, and get orders. If you say “allow 4-6 weeks for delivery” you then have that window to get producing the product.

  16. video isn’t working. “we’re sorry this video is no longer available”.

    p.s. did you do the PR teleseminar yet? (the $125 one)

  17. Licensing sounds like the ultimate form of outsourcing for idea guys like me. I was about to part with $399 for his program and I noticed his checkout has a coupon code!

    so Mr. Ferriss can you give your bud Stephen Key a call and get us loyal 4hww readers a FERRISS50 ?

    thanks!

    V.

    1. Hi there I just sent off my patent two days ago. it’s for a design patent. I don’t know if I should start, reading info on licensing, or should I wait to see if, the patent is approved?

  18. Tim and Stephen,

    Wonderful post.

    Can you also please include in Part II manufacturer criteria? For instance, I am wondering if a contract manufacturer would automatically be eliminated as a prospect. This might be an obvious question – I just don’t know much about the world of manufacturing yet.

    Thanks! Looking forward to the follow-up post and teleseminar Wednesday.

  19. I will keep this short. This post is for everyone. There is not just one given way to make money and not all ways work for everyone. I think the level of excitement about a notion has a lot to do with the outcome. If you do something just to make money, the fire will burn out soon. These are principals that can be used to help increase your chances of something working out. There are NO guarantees, the only guarantee you have will be that if you don’t try something then it will Definitely not work. One should always consider the cost opportunity of doing one thing rather than another. All in all trying these methods seem harmless and who knows they may just make you a buck in the process.

    Nice Post & Enjoy your Journey

    Jose Castro Frenzel

  20. # Varangy Wrote. . .

    November 26th, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Tim,

    Great post but two points:

    1) While intrigued, I, too, am a bit skeptic. This seems too easy.

    2) I think your readers (well, at least me) would love some information on selling one’s ideas to a company and how to avoid getting ripped-off.

    That is, XYZ company sees your nifty invention, likes it. Creates something similar that it can patent and then runs with it, leaving you in dust and uncompensated for your hard work and inspiration.

    REPLY

    Hello Varangy,

    RE: Being Skeptical

    Great post! Being skeptical is good. Your right, it’s not a piece of cake and it DOES require work to close a deal.

    Going through the steps the way I do is not hard in my opinion and the opinion of many of my students. Does that mean that you will close a deal every time. Of course not.

    Licensing is a numbers game. I could wallpaper my house with rejection letters. You need to be willing to fail in order to succeed. Here’s one of the big differences with how I approach selling ideas . . .

    I teach people how to play the licensing game affordably. So when you fail, you can easily move onto the next product idea. Using the methods I’ve developed, my students can often invest less than $300 in a provisional patent, sell sheet and the cost of their phone calls to pitch each of the their products. This is a much better way in my opinion than what the average Joe on the street with an idea does, which is run out and spend 10K on patent and 5k on a prototype and then hopes someone will beat a path to their door to buy their widget.

    My inventRight approach is all about minimizing both you financial and time investment in each new product idea you come up with. It’s not right for everyone. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned over my 25 years of selling new product ideas.

    RE: Getting Ripped Off

    I’ve pitched hundreds of ideas over the years and only been ripped off a few times. Big companies don’t want the liability of ripping off the little guy. It does happen, but it’s rare. For $135 you can file a Provisional Patent Application and say patent pending for a year. How cool is that!

    Kindest Regards,

    Stephen Key

    inventRight

  21. # Fredrick Wrote. . .

    November 26th, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Tim, I appreciate you presenting this topic…

    I am working in the field of character licensing with both new and niche market properties that definitely are not (yet) household names like Dora or SpongeBob.

    This may be out of Stephen’s expertise, but can he speak to how his strategies might be modified to benefit artistic Intellectual Property? It seems that the pitch to manufacturers in character licensing is much more about “riding an already established wave” than taking a risk on an “unproven” market presence.

    Does this mean that the Goliaths of the industry (Disney, Nickelodeon, etc.) will always have the advantage of sheer cash to throw around and impress potential partners? Or are there guerilla, “new rich” techniques that you and/or Stephen can suggest?

    Thanks again for the covering licensing. I like forward to the rest of the series.

    REPLY

    Hello Fredrick,

    Great post!

    I love riding that wave and piggybacking on another products success. My Spin Label invention has sold 100’s of millions of units by being used on vitamin products, liquor products, spices, toys and various other round containers. Use the big guys and ride their wave. It’s a positive, not a negative.

    Kindest Regards,

    Stephen Key

    inventRight

  22. # Billionaire Strategies Wrote. . .

    November 26th, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Implementing this strategy is going to be a lot tougher than he makes it sound. Inventors are likely to get taken to the cleaners by the big companies.

    REPLY

    Hello,

    I’ve only been ripped off a few times and I’ve submitted hundreds of new product ideas to some of the largest corporations in the world. Big companies don’t want the liability of ripping off the little guy.

    Here’s a tip…

    If you create a paper trail, you will reduce your risk in those rare case that a big corporation does decide to rip you off.

    Big companies are very slow to move. Little guys like myself are much more agile and creative.

    I believe the little guy with an idea has the upper hand in many respects. If you use the right approach and correct techniques, little guys like myself and you can license products to some of the largest corporations in the world.

    I’ve done deals with Disney, Ohio Art, Nestle, and many others. I have licensed over 20 products in many diverse industries and I believe anyone can do the same.

    It’s work. You have to want it and go after it.

    I wish you much success in all your new product related endeavors.

    Kindest Regards,

    Stephen Key

    inventRight.com

  23. Wonder how well protected my idea is if I go this way? I have a recipe that sells, and I am worried about a manufacturer knocking me off if I approach them. They could vary the recipe slightly etc.

  24. Tim, right on, been wondering about licensing for a while. Especially w/my gym and the methods we use.

    Were you planning on licensing that gym you opened in Taiwan?

    Is my “idea” even licensable? Or must it be a physical product?

    Thanks bruddah, hope all is well,

    –Zach–

    ###

    Hi Zach,

    The gym chain in Taiwan, which was over before it started, was not a licensing deal. I was looking at either purchasing facilities or constructing them. Ill-fated on many levels!

    Whether your idea is licensable or not is a better question for an intellectual property attorney or the US Patent and Trademark Office. If it can be patented, trademarked, or copyrighted, it can be licensed.

    Good luck,

    Tim

  25. How do international patents work? It appears you don’t have to be a US citizen to get a “patent pending” in the US… but can’t someone in another country still rip off the idea?

  26. Question for both TIm and Stephen, what do you both collectively suggest as a good starting point in doing these ideas/strategies.? Furthermore, Tim have you done this before and if so what products specifically have you had patented?

    Stephen, what is the best way for one to do this if they currently are running their own company and wish not to risk it all. I am looking to see if there is something feasible that one can do while still traveling and enjoying mini retirements.

    Look forward to hearing from you both…

    Best

    Jose Castro Frenzel

  27. Jose Castro Wrote. .

    Question for both TIm and Stephen, what do you both collectively suggest as a good starting point in doing these ideas/strategies.? Furthermore, Tim have you done this before and if so what products specifically have you had patented?

    Stephen, what is the best way for one to do this if they currently are running their own company and wish not to risk it all. I am looking to see if there is something feasible that one can do while still traveling and enjoying mini retirements.

    Look forward to hearing from you both…

    Best

    Jose Castro Frenzel

    REPLY FROM STEPHEN KEY

    Hello Jose,

    RE: Starting Point

    I suggest you go down to the marketplace and study the category your idea is in. If you have a new hammer that hits nails straight every time, then you need to go down to the hardware store and look at all the hammers and all the products around the hammers. Look at the prices, the benefits of each hammer, what they are made out of and who makes each one. That’s the best place to start.

    RE:Licensing while running your business

    You can without a doubt license a product in your spare time. I suggest you allot a few hours every week to working on your new product ideas. You can quite often work on each project for under $200, so money shouldn’t be a factor. You just need to set aside a litte time each week.

    Hope this helps.

    Kindest Regards,

    Stephen Key

    inventRight.com

    1. I just came up with a product that Im working on inventing. I was thinking very hard about getting a lawyer to do the patenting for me. After I read all this posts I am now thinking to do it my self. Is there any thing to keep in mind when filling a PPA ? Is it simple or complicated? Is there anything that I need to know to make it more simple? Thank you, Costel

  28. I so enjoy watching geniuses at work…you, Tim, for always giving us ideas to “chew” on and you Stephen, for showing us some easy ways to get things done!

    I’m not an inventor, and may never be one…but learning how to KISS is always a valuable way to approach any project/product.

    Kudos!!!!

  29. I like what you are doing. I invent for a hobby, but no success yet. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin when an idea comes to you. I have been doing research about inventing for about two years now, and I’m getting some what close to my goal. Just two days ago I met with a mechanical engineer professor and showed him a theory I had from three years back to clarify some things, and he told me my idea was good, but my theory was already in use in some of today’s hybrid cars (I was a few years behind). Pretty good for a novice without an engineering background, but I should think fifteen years ahead of time, and maybe even further.

    I like what you’re doing. You covered the major things involved in licensing your ideas.

    Later!!!

    Jayson Zamora

  30. thanks for the stephen key articles. my boyfriend has had an idea for a product for a long time and had not pursued it, (for various reasons) but after reading all the information, we are ready to file the patent pending and get this show on the road. If we hadnt received this, I am sure he would not have been as inspired to run with it.

    Will keep you posted how it turns out.

    Thanks again.

  31. Some really great stuff here, so useful, thanks.

    I firmly believe in “idea abundance” with regard to sharing one’s ideas with the big guys.

    My reasoning is that the one idea you have isn’t going to be the only idea you have – there’re plenty more waiting in the pipeline in your head, and if you resist letting that idea into the ‘wild’, you’re clogging up the flow of other, possibly more compelling concepts.

    The more free-flowing the idea stream is, the more opportunities there are for those new ideas to build on and connect with previous ideas.

    Of course, one still needs to be sensible about looking after your IP rights, but not to be paralysed into inaction through fear of theft. If your idea does get stolen, well, get the next one out. You’ve lost nothing except potential opportunity, but gained experience for the NEXT idea.

  32. Do we need to file a provisional in Canada? or is there something else we can do to protect the idea while we pitch to the manufacturer?

  33. Wow, I could have used this stuff about 30 or more years ago!! I have been an aspiring inventor all my life and yet have nothing to show for it:-? The good news is this stuff is very valuable to me and I will study and want to know more about it. I have seen multiple incidents of MY ideas show up on the market YEARS after my conception of them. I have the ideas, but the biggest problem is taking the idea to market before the next one overtakes me with excitement, pushing the current one out of my central focus.

    I am currently in Japan and plan to stay here, do you know of any relevant or different legal issues here, the Japanese equivalent to “patent pending”? I don’t have the time to read this right now but I had to comment. This information is or could be my holy grail, I have been inventing since EARLY childhood, but the legal stuff, money, inability to build a prototype and the next idea crowding out the current one have stopped me commercializing a single one. I dare not read it all now or I will be up all night excited and be exhausted and under slept for work tomorrow.

    bfn Tim

  34. Hello PJ,

    Glad to hear bells are going off in your head. There is no greater compliment as far as I’m concerned.

    If you want more info on licensing and thinking different. Check out our free tele-seminars we offer. It’s great info and we only spend about one minute out of 60 pitching our course. The rest is just straight forward advice on licensing and thinking different.

    Kindest Regards, – Stephen Key http://www.inventright.com/news.html

  35. Hi Tim,

    The following is based on your advice, which strangely and happily is something i have been doing, yet not widely enough for a long time. As the saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat, here’s my way, and why.

    A) Since I am making the rules for this little piece of reality, here they are, Tim ( or the person you outsource this to…) I have ideas and time but a lack of money.

    B) I KNOW I have knowledge and ideas that would be of sufficient value to you to make this a worth while investment of your time, and a meager amount of your money.

    C) I have been an inventor for about 35 years plus despite being 40 now, so I have a lifetime of ideas MANY with commercial value and some that where commercialized years after my first conception of them.

    D) I want you to buy and send me the inventright product in exchange for one of two things

    one… a percentage of the first product license I land

    or two…access to me and my ideas thoughts and reflections.

    Sound arrogant? perhaps, but only you or your agent can decide whether this is rambling or a valuable offer, so it’s worth you saying YES (about 1/2 second of your time to have someone else find out that it IS a worth while half second or your time. Your ROI on this will ultimately be ridiculous.

    In simple terms I make JUST enough money to meet living expenses, plus a small bit left over. At my current savings capacity it will take me at least two or three months to save the money necessary to get this course, unless someone with insight and a mind for profitable investments is willing to expedite this process for me.

    I opted for this so that I could pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors which include jewelry design, environmental energy products.

    This is the tip of my iceberg, that I have not been able to realized based on my limiting beliefs said I had to have serious cash to license a product without the manufacturer stealing it.

    The truth is this offer is open to anyone who is willing to act on it immediately!

    I am currently in Japan so unless you are resident here meeting face to face is a challenge, but this is an age of technology and I have internet. Contracts can be made over distance. I have a wealth of ideas, not one or two but many. If anyone wants to help you and I turn some of them into serious cash.

    I need only someone with the confidence and cash to act and enough knowledge to recognize that my ideas are of value.

    Someone’s future successful business partner Tim B. Green

  36. I have a noteable name in the uk tv market. Thinking of launching my own jewellery range under my own name (my public name). Instead of taking up the manufacturing costs myself, I could license my name right or license the the name of my designs? Come up with the designs and offer it out as a licence? How do I find out what I should be charging per unit etc.. without asking around too close to home and the powers that be work out that i’m new to this licensing idea? Also can I offer the license of my own name/designs to more than one company?

    Great website by the way.

  37. Hello Danny,

    I’m glad you liked the inventRight info I shared with you in this blog post. I wish you much success in all your invention related endeavors. Kindest Regards, Stephen Key inventRight

  38. Hello. I love this website and the four hour work week book. I have a question for anyone who knows about property law. My Q is I am in the process of getting a PPA for my product, but an attorney that I talked to said it is most likely trademark-able not patent-able cause it is to obvious. I am taking Stephen Keys advice and getting a PPA and licensing my product, but can I get a PPA for my product if it is not patent-able but trademark-able? And if I make a deal with a licensee could they upgrade the PPA to a trademark? Thanks Cainen.

  39. Hello,

    I have a question for anyone who knows about property law. My Q is I was in the process of seeing if my product was patent-able or trademark-able, but an attorney that I talked to said my product is most likely trademark-able not patent-able cause it is to obvious. He advised me to get a Provisional patent and to see if it has a market. I have decided to license my product to a licensee but can I get a PPA for my product if it is only trademark-able? Can i just have (Patent pending) if i am not sure how it can be protected? Again i don’t know if it can be patented but it can be trademarked. And if I make a licensing deal with a licensee could they upgrade the PPA to a trademark after the PPA expires? Please let me know ASAP Thanks Cainen

  40. Hello Time ..

    I am over the moon with your words of wisdom. I have been coming up with simple small ideas for the last 10 years .. Most I gave away!

    I ran away from home so have no skills in the education system. My education has been my enthusiasm to just know as much as I can.

    I have a few ideas and have scribbled them up as you write here .. Howeverrrrah .. In sharing my ideas to a person .. he has had the bug of patenting and prototypes as you explain alot of people fall into .. I write music for fun .. I write poems for fun .. I keep coming up with ideas TOO.

    Now I want to afford to get my TEETH done 🙂

    Nobody has believed in me as yet that I can do anything as far as business goes. I’ve been saying for the last 2 yrs that there is no need to get greedy and over detailed get as much as you can .. just get it out there ..

    I have one simple idea I am sitting right NOW .. and the person I told ‘similar to what you say here; is against the way I think .. You have FULLY re-enforced me.

    I am going to get a Provisional Patent application .. and sell my idea to ‘Nestle!!’ and pitch the idea that it goes out on the market as a bonus to one of their ‘baby food products’

    It’s a product that would be out there year in year out every year .. (patent design of course) ..

    I would like to send it to you after I have got the patent pending year of service protection for myself 🙂 for you as ‘MY NEW MENTOR!!’

    to look at and give me best guidance and whatever happens ..

    I have learnt through my life of disfunctional abuse since small that if You don’t put your hand out and reach for heights you don’t get help .

    so here you go. You haven’t made my day .. you have made my way of thinking worth fighting for.

    Thank you …

    Bee

  41. Sorry .. It’s me again . Bee

    I just have to say to you too Steven that you really know your stuff too .. and even though I get the feel that you and Tim are cool .. I get the feeling that you both have what I call the “real” class … not show pony class projection … meaning curtousy in life to everyone and now that I think of it .. I have this great chocolate idea I could sell the Cadbury TOO .. and it’s easy to get the picture across and they will LOVE it .. I didn’t think it was a good idea .. or dare I say .. I didn’t have enough confidence in myself .. You two have sparked TAHT one back up in em .. and no it ISN’T out there and all the kids will LOVE it and even I will eat it. I have a name for it too . and it’s still funny to me .. and save all the waste .. want not want not .. I wish I could blurt it out to you -:)

    thanks and now I have to save to join the course and get the heavy help I will need as I will need it .. …

    Bee

    1. This reply is for BEE. You have touched my heart. I am 80 years old. I was an abused child. I am a decorated Marine from the Korean war and I was still afraid of people. I still talk like a 15 year old. I had about 50 invention ideas at one time. Several were stolen. I am not afraid of people today but I do fear communicating with large company bosses.Just Like Stephan talks about in his wonderful book… one of the greatest obstickles with us simple people. But, let me tell you… the books theory WORKS. I decided to start all over at my age . i even write scr5eenplays that have to be edited. I sent almost 400 emails out to producers. I recieved about 9 replys. One was …. judging by your grammer and punctuations, it,s a no. I tried hiring a invention marketing company for one of my inventions. They liked it but said no. I went to 2 hardwear chains and looked at products like mine. Looked up the name to one on the computer. Sent an email. the following morning 6:30 AM , I got a call from the product manager. They too bounced it. So I followed the advice from the book. I called another very big company and got to speak to the product manager. He asked to see the drawings of my product. I did get a provisional patent on it . Most of the big companies I want to use want me to have a patent. I hope I can license without one. SOoooo BEE,keep on going…. nothing ventured…. nothing gained.

      Best wishes and GOD BLESS… Bobby G

  42. Dear Stephen,

    I think all this information is great for a product idea, but what about a concept. I have developed a concept that I would like to pitch to a large company but I am unsure how to go about this, and how to protect my idea. Please let me know if you can offer any advise on this topic.

    Thank you,

    Adrienne

  43. Thank you for the excellent advice…it answered so many of my questions. So far, I am only out $750 in attorney fees for the cost of the Preliminary Patent Search. I was about to gulp and send the $10,000 check to move forward on the Patent. THANK GOODNESS I checked back at your site. This approach makes so much more sense.

  44. Hi,

    Very interesting idea. I’ve been looking for Australian specific info and cant seem to find any. I have been looking in marketing law books (right place?). Could anybody point me in the right direction? Tim you said you helped a friend use this in Aust and NZ, do you know where i can learn more?

    Thanks in advance for any help i would very much appreciate it.

    Tom

  45. Jake, thank you for the link, but this is bad and old advice. Today’s world has changed. Even the large companies are adopting open innovation. Kraft, P&G and many other large companies are actively looking for new ideas. This is the old way and it does not work.

    Stephen Key

  46. I have been reading articles and books on what to do with your idea after protecting it with ppa and nothing comes close to explaining a faster, exciting, or profitable way as you do. I must have been looking for information in the wrong places. Thank you for answering a lot of my questions in an easy way to understand. Keep up your awsome work!

  47. Hi Stephen, Thank you for the excellent advices. I have a question for you, I have an invention for which I already sent the PPA to the USPTO, now is the time to look for manufacturers; the main manufacturer of this line of products in the world is not based in US but in UK even though their products are widely sold in US and Canada as well; what would be the disadvantadges I will have in choosing this manufacturer vs other, smaller companies, based in North America?

  48. This is great information for new product inventions, but what if you have an idea which is not patentable, such as an advertising campaign or retail business?

  49. same question as “spamncheese” July 14th,2009 6:57pm. How to sell an idea which is not patentable, such as an advertising campaign or retail business? I also have one for a fortune 500 company.

  50. Always remember you are selling benefits. Some industries require some type of intellectual property protection such as patents, trademarks and copyrights. I have found in 30 years of selling ideas that most of my ideas had no protection what so ever. Sometimes just having trade secrets in some industries is enough. Some industries because they are fashion industries just want to be first to market so they don’t care if you have any protection what so ever. In some industries having just a trademark or copyright is enough. If you have an advertising concept, is there anything that could be copyrighted? It’s a very affordable form of protection for $45. It’s not the best protection but it’s not bad. You could possibly even trademark the name of your concept. Walking into an ad agency and pitching an idea without some type of IP could be difficult. I would call a local advertising agency and represent yourself as a copyrighter/creative genius. Ask them if they take outside submissions.

    If you would like more information you can always visit my website inventrightdotcom I am always giving free lectures, have a weekly radio show and a weekly newsletter.

    We are also developing a new program. Thousands of companies are looking for new ideas through open innovation. Because most creative people/industrial designers and such do not have the skills to bring their ideas to market we are teaching classes on how to become a licensing expert/product scout so that people that have business skills can find these great ideas and bring these two groups together and benefit from it. I taught this class in Australia and it was very well received. You can learn more at Stephenkeydotcom If you have any other questions please let me know.

  51. I think that this was very interview was good. But I don’t know about the rest of you, but all anyone in the business seems to give is vague information. I never see list of companies that are willing to even listen to your idea. It’s like you only get enough of information to “tie” you over, but if you think about you never get any information that you can say o.k. now let me try these guys. Maybe it’s just me but it’s like they say “Yeah it was a long hard journey to get to the water, but I finally got there. But your still left wondering how did they get to the water? How did they travel? By train,plane or automobile?

  52. Interesting information! I have an idea for a new APPLICATION of a small publicly-traded company’s product. I would use this company’s patented product and repackage it for the use I have for the product, which would expand this company’s product line. How could I learn if this company has ever considered my new application idea (without asking them)? Would I be advised to license this NEW APPLICATION of the company’s existing product line? I just want to be compensated for my idea. Thank you.

  53. Hello Suri,

    A PPA (Provisional Patent Application) is only $110, you can file it yourself.

    The PPA is a great tool. It gives you Patent Pending status for one year while you shop your idea around to see if anyone manufacturers are interested.

    You are right though……..

    You are not selling your patent or prototype. You are selling the benefits of your idea.

    For Example:

    Your “hammer that hits nails straight every time”

    OR

    Your “Kitty litter that doesn’t stick to your cat’s paws”

    The PPA protects your idea while you sell the benefits.

  54. Hello Suri,

    A PPA (Provisional Patent Application) is only $110, you can file it yourself and it let’s you say Patent Pending.

    The PPA is a great tool. It gives you Patent Pending status for one year while you shop your idea around to see if anyone manufacturers are interested.

    You are right though……..

    You are not selling your patent or prototype. You are selling the benefits of your idea. For Example: Your hammer that hits nails straight every time or your “Kitty litter that doesn’t stick to your cat’s paws”

    The PPA protects your idea while you sell the benefits.

  55. Hello “I need the important info” from a couple posts up,

    I give away lot’s of detailed free info on my blog and via my web based radio show. Click on my name to visit my site in this post to visit my site and get the details you are seeking.

  56. Randy,

    I would approach the company with a sell sheet and pitch it to them.

    Coming up with one idea for one company is not ideal, so i wouldn’t spend to much time on it because they may not be interested.

    A better senario would be if you had six or seven potential licensees. One potential licensee reduces your chances of success. If you are going to take the time to create a presentation, you would be better off pitching an idea to multiple companies.

  57. I just recently submitted a patent application and have patent pending status on an iphone accessory and am part of Oregon’s MIPOS Innovate 20 Program (which you will speak at in June). I want to learn about every steps in the process but am willing to pitch my idea to try to get it licensed asap. The top companies (Griffen & Belkin) I am looking at refuse to sign a non-disclosure form and take no responsibility for their actions once I send prototype to them. Should I be concerned with them taking my invention, tweaking it just enough, and throwing me away? I would like to think I can trust someone but… I greatly look forward to meeting you in June. Thank you

  58. Roddy,

    You are in for a hard road if you insist everyone sign your NDA ( Non-Disclosure Agreement)

    I can only tell you what I do and don’t do. I focus on selling the benefits of my idea, not putting up a big legal brick wall or hurdle when i show my ideas.

    Whatever protection i have (Inventors Notebook, Provisional Patent Application) is what i have and whatever they have is what they have. I almost never ask companies to sign NDA’s. There are exceptions, but I don’t have time to go into those here.

    Why would a company sign your NDA when they don’t even know what you are going to show them? It’s like saying…. “you need to keep this secret and not tell anyone, but i won’t tell you till you sign this NDA binding yourself”.

    What if it turns out they are working on something similar? Your PPA is your protection?

    This is not legal advice and just the way I do things. I am not advising you to do the same. How you handle this is up to you. If you need legal advice, please seek the services of an attorney.

  59. This is what I have always thought. I have come up with two world changing ideas and I just cant do anything with them. EVERYONE i have ever talked to wants these products yesterday but i just dont know how to turn them into $$$. The first idea, i maxed out my credit cards, lost my job and borrowed money off my mother to get a PPA (i paid a patent attorney $3K for this how ripped off was i?) and built a prototype. still i could even get to talk to anyone. grrrrr. anyway now im too busy with my PhD and my rock band to folow up these billion dolar ideas. grrr again. look forward to hearing about who and how to contact the right person. i appreciate your point of view tim, so onto it.

    Craig

  60. Hello Pitching Manual,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Legal Regulations”.

    I recommend having an attorney provide you with the proper NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) for your particular situation.

  61. Hello Pitching Manual,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “regulations”.

    I recommend having an attorney provide you with the proper NDA (non-disclosure agreement) for your particular situation.

  62. Hello Craig,

    I understand your frustration. The solution is to not spend $3k with a patent attorney. I file my own Provisional Patents for $110, then make a list of companies that are a right match for my idea and call them.

    Feel free to contact me through my website. You can click on my name in this post to visit my website. Email me through the site and I’ll help you out.

    -Stephen

    1. Hello Stephen;

      I love your book. I am an 80 year old with many invention ideas. I did hire a company that promotes inventions. The worst was the Morrison agency. But I thought this company was suppose to be better. They bounced my invention but said it was a good idea. So, On a Saturday I contacted a company I found from Inventright. I really wanted some feedback. but this company back East called me at 6AM wanting to see it. Now, I have no PPA. I am very embarressed. I am almost ready to submit my application to the patent office. So, do I have to wait for my application number from the patent office befor I can try to license it?

      Shall I contact this company and ask them to sign a non disclosure at this time? ALSO..>>> Do you not need a lawyer to make this contract.? Much to my surprise this law firm I used in the past has 18 lawyers and they said they could not help me.. Thanks for your time. God Bless.

      Best wishes;

      Bob Garabedian Friant, CA. 93626-0176

  63. How do you make sure that you have done a good enough search before you file a Provisional Patent? When I have talked to a Patent attorney they say that I have to pay all this money for the search. What will happen if I didn’t search enough?

  64. Great question Joan.

    Yes, it’s a good idea to do a patent search. I have a professional patent searcher teach my students the techniques they need to know in order to do a good patent search on their own. Patent searches are very expensive. Quite often it doesn’t make sense to pay a professional patent searcher to do one.

    If a patent search is really important for a particular idea. You may do one on your own, then share what you have found with a professional for them to see what else they can find. Doing this will save you quite a bit of money.

    To be honest with you, I don’t worry about the patent search that much. I focus more on the market search, which is a search of what is and isn’t in the marketplace(stores, catalogs, internet ect).

    The fact that someone got a patent on something doesn’t verify much of anything other than they spent the money to get a patent.

    When you see other products in the marketplace with similar benefits to yours, that’s great confirmation that people want a product like yours. The product wouldn’t stay in the marketplace long if it wasn’t selling. Studying the Marketplace is way more important than searching for prior patents in my experience.

    I hope this was helpful. You can get more tips like this on my internet radio show I do once a week here.

    http://www.inventright.com/inventright_invention_radio.shtml

    Keep Inventing,

    Stephen Key

  65. Hello Stephen,

    I am a 21 year old college student who has had the dream of being an entrepreneur since i started selling computer products online at the age of 15. It is very easy for me to think of new business ideas that i think could potentially become a very profitable corporations with the right planning and funding. -There are a couple of ideas that i have written 20-40 page business plans for, but worry about receiving funding. I have been skeptical about selling ideas to and existing companies (Selfish Haha, Why let you make millions when i could do the same) and always wondered if it was possible to sell a business or a business idea that wasn’t already in existence, and while trying to find the answer i came across this blog entry.

    I have Three worthy (I think) ideas that i am working with at the moment.

    2 of ideas are pertaining to a social networking website with an advertisement feature that could make a company like twitter, google or microsoft billions.

    And 1 is a Product that would be a little difficult to build a prototype for.

    If you have some free time i would really appreciate if you could shed some light on this as i seek to find someone who could give me advice.

    Also my personal email is

    Bcmitchell2011@yahoo.com

    Thanks,

    Brandon Mitchell

  66. Hello Brandon,

    Yes, i have the same bug for Entrepreneurship. The only thing is i don’t like to deal with all the everyday things about a business that can be not so much fun like employee problems, cash flow, distribution, shipping problems, workmans compensation and eighty hour work weeks ect, ect.

    I like to keep things simple. That’s why i license my ideas, collect royalties and let a manufacturer worry about all those things.

    You can most definitely license a business method, but I would start with a physical product first. It’s going to be an easier place to get your feet wet, learn how to license ideas and receive royalties.

    Feel free to call me at 1-800-701-7993 if you want some more advice. I’d be happy to give you 15 minutes of my time for free. There is no way i can teach you everything i know about licensing in 15 minutes, however I can help point you down the right road for you.

  67. Hello Brandon,

    Yes, i have the same bug for Entrepreneurship. The only thing is i don’t like to deal with all the everyday things about a business that can be not so much fun like employee problems, cash flow, distribution, shipping problems, workmans compensation and eighty hour work weeks ect, ect.

    I like to keep things simple. That’s why i license my ideas, collect royalties and let a manufacturer worry about all those things.

    You can most definitely license a business method, but I would start with a physical product first. It’s going to be an easier place to get your feet wet, learn how to license ideas and receive royalties.

    Feel free to call me at 1-800-701-7993 if you want some more advice. I’d be happy to give you 15 minutes of my time for free. There is no way i can teach you everything i know about licensing in 15 minutes, however I can help point you down the right road for you.

    -Stephen

  68. I read the article and was fascinated to find out that I was doing everything wrong, just as you described! I have many prototypes and no sales. How do I find the manufacturers I need to pitch my ideas?

    Linda Fitzpatrick

    Danville, CA.

    wildwife7@comcast.net

  69. Hello Linda,

    That’s step number 1 in my system.

    You want to go down to the stores where you want your products to end up and make a list of manufacturers already selling similar products in those stores.

    -Stephen

  70. Stephan,

    I have ~30-60 ideas with sell sheets for most.I have only been able to get in front of two companies with my concepts, though I have contacted many. Do you have any advice for getting the face time and getting the companies and possibly signing an NDA?

    Thanks,

    Dave

  71. Hello Kathlene,

    Sweating and dying! That doesn’t sound good.

    Doing something new with no support or guidance can be very stressful, not to mention risky.

    We do free 15 minute one-time consults for people new to the process. Feel free to book an appointment with my business partner and inventRight Co-Founder Andrew Krauss at http://www.inventRight.com/411

    He’ll get you in the right frame of mind and help you out. He’s very helpful and is really patient with people new to the game of licensing.

    -Stephen

  72. Dave,

    My advice is not to try to get face time. Instead contact companies over the phone. Face to face meetings are a waste of time and money.

    Make lots and lot’s of calls. Works great for me!

    Keep Inventing,

    -Stephen

  73. Hello Mr. Key,

    I had purchased a couple of products of which one had something on it that was great, and would work perfect for the other product. I came to the conclusion, that this should be on the other product. Two different companies two different products. How can I take an idea from one company and sell it to another or multiple companies? Please advise.

    pwrtogetwealth

    lth

    1. That will all depend on what your changing or if moving the idea over to another area changes something about the idea. If it does, it may be licensable.

  74. I was wondering when you call these manufactures…what would you say without giving your idea away over the phone? since there is no NDA on the Phone?

    1. You never try to pitch an idea on the phone. That’s like trying to explain how to tie your shoelaces over the phone. You want to get permission to send them a sell sheet which is a one page advertisement for your idea. Let your sell sheet do your selling for you.

      That’s what we’ve been teach our inventRight students and it’s been working for the last 12 years. No one wants to listen to an inventor or product developer ramble on the phone. Be a pro and send a sell sheet!

      1. Hello I have an idea about a company needing to change something, or have another updated company come in to help the other company. I am so confuse. Any advise??

  75. thankyou for your info

    years back I had a black book and came up with dozens of ideas that are now in the market,

    I want to do it again, but I want to license not patent, just license and come up with more, I see opportunities when I see products and needs.

    how can I find someone that will work with me. and become partners with them, I just want to build a nice extra income.

    thank you

    Jesse R. Cano

    omegafunding7-at-hotmail.com

    10/06/2010

    1. Jesse,

      File a PPA (Provisional Patent Application). You can do it yourself and it’s only $65, then when a company show’s interest…. get them to pay for the patent. We show our inventRight students how to do this.

      A PPA will give you a year to shop your idea around and say Patent Pending. You can file it in common english. Anyone can do it!

      1. My name is Rehan Masih, i live in pakistan i have more new invention ideas in my mind and those i write down in my note book how can i rent my ideas i have ideas but not technical information please help me.

  76. Holly,

    This is great. I call it mix and match. You take two products from two different categories and combine them. A camera phone is an example of this. Or a screwdriver with a flashlight on it.

    Then you license it to whomever would carry such a product.

    Keep up the good work,

    Stephen Key

  77. Amy,

    Great question. The answer is you never try to sell your idea on the phone. When you are calling companies, you are asking permission to send your sell sheet or sell sheet video, not trying to describe your product. That would be like trying to explain to someone how to tie their shoelaces over the phone. Never try to sell on the phone before they see your sell sheet.

    RE: NDA’s – That would take 45 minutes to go into. I couldn’t fit it all in this little box. I do however teach what to do about NDA’s during our live webinars with our students.

    Keep up the god work!

    Kindest Regards,

    Stephen Key

  78. Hi Stephen,

    I pre-ordered your book. Thanks for the informative Q&A that you did with Tim Ferris and the video about your spinner idea.

    I have a lot of ideas that can make billions of dollars for companies smart enough to rent them from me.

    One thing I don’t understand is this: If you’re a millionaire from your product selling and renting, why not just give away your book as a free e-book, and post your DVD set online for a small membership fee, or a one time fee, of $27 dollars. For someone as wealthy and successful as you are, why not just reduce the price or share the knowledge?

    Yes!

    Kris Kemp 🙂

  79. I believe a Direct Response campaign would be the most successful launch of my idea, but all the info I dig up reiterates what I’ve seen and heard for years. You produce and air the infomercial, produce sufficient sales volume and we may be interested.

    Skeptism aside, I’m going to move ahead. But skeptism rules when this product will surely end up being manufactured in China. Is there any protection provided by the PPA outside the US? Any protection from US distribution of my foreign produced idea? I know you don’t have legal advice to give, but have you ever gone the Direct Marketing route where first year sales could reach the millions like the “Snuggie”?

    1. Steve Hudson,

      Regarding direct response. Why not license to a company that does direct response. Let them take the financial risk.

      A US PPA only covers you in the US, not overseas. Regarding foreign produced products. You can stop them at the docks if you have a US patent.

      Stephen Key

  80. Hello Kris,

    Your welcome for the Q&A i did with Tim. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    I like your enthusiasm, but few ideas can make a billion dollars. I’ve always done licensing because it allows me to do what I’m passionate about which is coming up with new product ideas and then seeing people enjoying them.

    Money is not my major motivator for either my students or myself. Yes, you can become rich licensing ideas. I’ve noticed that ideas are most of my students passion first and that money comes in second.

    Kris, I think you will be more successful as a product developer if you are passionate about coming with ideas rather than being motivated just by money.

    I see no need to give my $14.95 book away for free. I don’t think people take things as seriously when they are free. I can get my 30 years of experience out to more people by charging $14.95 for a book and getting it out into all the stores than i would if i gave it away as a free ebook.

    My business partner Andrew Krauss and i have spent ten years honing our skills at teaching people new to this game how to license their ideas. I think that’s worth $14.95.

    Regarding our course. We give a year of unlimited phone support to our students that buy our course. I’m not sure how we could give that away for free. Instead we have students that take their licensing endeavors seriously. We support them one one one over the phone and with weekly live webinars that keep them energized and moving forward.

    I’ve gotten back ten time more than I’ve given over the years with my http://www.inventRight.com business. And I’m not talking about money.

    It’s a great feeling to help people become the successful inventors they have dreamed of for so many years. I should be thanking my student for everything they have given me.

    I wish you much success in all your invention related endeavors.

    Stephen Key

  81. Followup to my post on Oct. 25th.

    Who should I approach to present my idea to in the Direct Response arena – the infomercial producers, the one stop [or so called] Direct Response companies, known contract manufacturerers in China???

    Who has the authority to go after an idea; who would you approach?

  82. Steve Hudson,

    One of our students at inventRight just licensed to an infomercial company only a month and a half ago. Go visit our home page at http://www.inventRight.com and click on “How Timea Licensed Her Idea” on the right hand side of the page. The video is a full hour and it’s free.

    No, you would never go to a contract manufacturer in China to license your idea. You go to the companies that sell and have distribution in the stores you want to be in.

    Stephen Key

  83. Stephen key

    i had a look at your website and read some of your help sections when you say to talk to a manufacturer about your idea, isn’t that taking a big risk if they liike your idea and you dont have a short term patent on it can’t they easily steal it like what happened to the intermittent wipers guy.

    i understand that you dont know whether you could actully sell it before you show your idea to a manufacturer but there’s gotta be a way to safeguard before you talk to them, please explain.

    Nathan

  84. Hi Stephen,

    Love the straight forward clear presentation.

    My question is who you look for/ ask for/ department… to contact when calling potential investing companies??

    Thank you for time and giving knowledge.

    -a young entrepreneur-

  85. Dear Stephen,

    I have read your website and blog which benefit for me ,please keep going,I appreciate it.

    I’m a Taiwanese people in Taiwan and I don’t have “United States Permanent Resident Card”.

    How could I licensing in America ? what’s your suggestions about me ?

    Best Regards

    Tony Lee

  86. Nathan,

    Companies don’t want to steal your ideas. Here are a few reasons.

    * They are more afraid of you than you should be of them.

    * Law suits

    * Bad Publicity

    * When you talk with companies you can and should create a paper trail.

    * You’ve got your inventors notebook which is FREE.

    * If you conduct yourself professionally and be reasonable, they will respect you and see that you know what you are doing. If a company was not ethical, they would decide it’s easier to pay you than to mess with you.

    Now I’m not saying an Inventor can never get ripped off. It can and has happened, but you could also get killed in your car going to the grocery strore, but you still go don’t you?

    In ten years of coaching inventors with my business partner Andrew Krauss I’ve never had a student get ripped off.

    What’s much more likely is that an Inventor (not one of our students) rips themselves off by never making calls to sell their idea.

    Stephen Key

  87. Morgan,

    I give a whole one hour lecture to my students on the topic of how to call companies to sell your idea.

    I wouldn’t be helping you if i told you just who to call and not how to call. And of course i can’t go into all that in the comments section here.

    I will say that Marketing and sales are the two best departments to call a lot of the time, however there are exceptions to that rule.

    There are also specific techniques that i teach about what to say when you get a hold of a marketing or sales person.

    Stephen Key

  88. Tony,

    It doesn’t matter where you live.

    We have students in 30 countries. You can license from anywhere.

    You will not be flying out to meet with these companies. Everything is done over the phone and via email.

    Most of our International students use skype to call and the internet to do their research.

    You can license from anywhere!

    -Andrew

  89. Hi Stephen

    My idea is one for a different marketing channel for a certain sector of large businesses. I am hugely confident that this new channel would bring them lots of extra customers, but don’t think this kind of idea is something I could Patent…

    Is there any way I could sell this idea to the large companies in question without them copying it as soon as I told them what it was?

    I think this way of selling could make a very material impact on sales figures for the businesses in question.

    Thanks!

  90. Richard,

    I’d do some research on “Business Method Patents”. They are being given a hard time in the courts these days, however it might be one way to protect yourself.

    Stephen Key

  91. Stephen,

    I believe I have a great idea for a multi million pound company that can increase sales massively. I don’t know what is an acceptable price to ask for the initial fee foruse of my idea. Is £50,000 ridiculous to ask for?

    Brandon

  92. Hello Brandon,

    It really depends. I’ve always found that front loading the deal and asking for a bunch of money up front when the manufacturer hasn’t made a dime yet, doesn’t work.

    I like to get a royalty per unit for as long as the product sells.

    You see, when you license ideas, you aren’t really selling them, you are renting the. You’ll make more money that way.

    -Stephen

  93. Hello Stephen,

    I have a business plan for a new social network but I do not have the finances nor resources to have the website developed. Is it possible to sell a company a business plan or business idea.

  94. I’ve been reading up on patents in the Uk and people seem to think that is takes a long time (a couple of years) to obtain a patent, how is it possible to obtain a patent quickly and cheaply?

    Brandon

  95. Brandon,

    I’m not a patent attorney, so i can’t offer you legal advice.

    I can tell you what i do. I file a US provisional patent application. It’s only $110.

    It would take to long to go into here, but there are around about ways to protect yourself in the UK by filling a US Provisional Patent Application.

    We bring attorneys onto our inventRight student webinars to answer questions like this. I’m not an attorney and can’t directly answer your question.

  96. James,

    Your royalty percentage can vary greatly. If they are selling a 10 million units a year you might ask for a lower percentage than if they are selling 5k units a year. It really depends on the situation.

    Your royalty in most cases is based of the wholesale price. That’s the price the manufacturer sells to the retailer for. It’s easy to track the wholesale price. Retail sales are impossible to track unless the manufacturer is selling directly to the public.

    5 to 10 percent is common for consumer products. This can add up to quite a bit of money if the company is selling a lot of units. On the other hand if your product is really a low volume idea, the money won’t be so great. That’s why higher volume ideas are better for licensing.

    -Stephen

  97. If I have an idea on how a web business could make a few small additions to their website and open up their market significantly. Would a PPA be appropriate in this situation?

    1. Sorry, I should clarify after reading Richard’s post:

      I know that this would probably fall under a “Business Method Patent,” but since a PPA is provisional, could it later be made into a BMP? Or is there a different patent available that is a Provisional Business Method Patent? My research on Business Method Patents are that they take a long time to go through…..

  98. Kelli,

    No there isn’t a separate PPA for business method patents. Yes, BMP are difficult to pull off and are getting challenged a lot in courts these days. If you have detailed patent questions like this, it’s always a good idea to seek legal advice.

    -Stephen

    1. Well, I guess my main question is that since my idea is technically a business method, would a PPA cover me? Could I still claim patent pending status with a PPA if my product is a method?

  99. Mr. Stephen Key,

    many thanks for the contributes you have provided to this (and other) community(ies) over the last 4 years.

    I’ve some Intellectual Property doubts that I can’t seem to find an accurate answer for and, if you find the time, hope you may enlighten me.

    First off all, I trully respect your ‘method’, I believe this is a great way to make a lot of cash with little individual involvement and upfront cash but only works if you can have several ideas. Thats my case, I’m clearly not an inventor. All I can think off has apparently been invented (btw: your spin label idea… I take my hat off sir, it’s so simple as powerful, congratulations). As I’m no inventor, I’ve to grab to all the little ideas I may have thus thinking that maybe 3% off retail may not suit my needs and try to go after the whole pot. I rather prefer and try the 4hww approach for lifestyle which is building a website, sell it yourself and automate. I think that, for ME, this is the method that will work.

    Considering this, I’ve developed a new product idea (the only idea I’ve ever had…), I’ve searched over google products and it doesn’t exist (how is it possible?, I can see this idea rendering Millions… but maybe I should watch more of the ‘Dragons Den’ (Shark Tank in the US), wake up and smell the coffee). When I searched WIPO for patents on the item I’ve developed, I’ve come across a very (put VERY on that) rudimentary product of my idea. The following is a good example/comparision. Mr Ford developed the ‘car’ in 1900 and patented it. No more cars where invented over the last 111 years until I’ve invented the latest Ferrari looking car. Am I able to patent it? Would this be an ‘Improvement Patent’ (where I need the authorization of the inventor of the previous product in order to manufacture mine) or, as my patent is a ‘new product’ I can ‘just patent it’ and don’t need authorization from no one?.

    I ask this because, they are both CARS, it’s true that my model have nicer colors, fine lines, more HorsePower, (more) technology, etc but it’s just STILL A CAR, it has 2 doors, 4 wheels a steering wheel, etc, etc, etc.

    I wouldn’t know but it’s this what’s happening in the ‘Car world’ this days? Everyone is paying rights to Mr. Ford?

    So, imagine that I fill the patent today, can I begin to manufacture and promote my invention as soon as I fill the patent? (I assume it becomes ‘patent pending’). What kind of problems (if any) this could bring?

    If I’ve to license the previous invention ‘A’ in order to manufacture mine (‘B’) how is this processed?

    Sorry if there’s something you didn’t understand clearly as I’m Portuguese 😉

    Once again, thanks for your contributions.

  100. Ze,

    I can’t comment on your particular case unless i looked at the prior art. What i can say is that most inventions are just improvements to existing ideas. They are not completely new. You or your attorney need to determine if your idea violates any existing IP or patents.

    I wish you much success with regardless if you choose to venture or license your ideas. Or both!

    -Stephen

  101. Hi Stephen,

    My product is a combination of two non-unique ideas into a unique idea. I will exhibit at the National Stationery Show this May. I have a website and my product is in stores, so it is certainly not a secret.

    A Hawaii products distributor offered me $1.25/unit if we produced them in China. But I philosophically want to manufacture in the USA. We agreed to $1.75/unit with me controlling manufacturing. Seems like I bought a lot of headache for only 50 cents more per unit! But I really want a Made In USA product.

    Do you recommend having a PPA before the tradeshow May 15-18. Is it appropriate and is there time for me to pursue a PPA? The tradeshow will be a great place for me to pitch my product concept to manufacturers as well as buyers. Appreciate it if you looked over my website and gave some guidance as to licensing viability.

  102. Travis,

    Your in luck. My book IS available on the kindle.

    The title of the book as you know is “One Simple Idea”.

    The book covers my ten steps to selling your ideas and is available both on the kindle and as a hardback book.

    Kindle link

    http://www.amazon.com/One-Simple-Idea-Licensing-ebook/dp/B004H4XL8S/ref=kinw_dp_ke?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

    Hardback Link

    http://www.amazon.com/One-Simple-Idea-Licensing-Goldmine/dp/0071756159/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302796235&sr=8-1

    -Stephen

  103. Stephen,

    I am looking in getting a PPA for a product that is already available but it’s not the product i want to patent it’s the process of how the product is made, is this possible?

    Thanks Jon

  104. Hello Jon,

    Excellent!

    What you are talking about is a “Method Of Manufacturing Patent”. It’s basically a utility patent, but on the method that is used to manufacture a product.

    I have had over 13 patents on “the method of manufacturing” for my spin label Invention and have sold millions of labels due to the fact that i have protected my idea this way.

    Please feel free to give me a call at 650-793-1477 and I’ll give you some advice on moving forward with your idea.

    -Stephen

  105. Hello Stephen

    Could you tell me what my licensing contract should contain, I know it should contain a mimimum guarantee clause, performance clause and that the manufacturer is responsible for paying to upgrade the PPA in my name but what else?

    Thanks James

  106. I’ve got an idea for a new beverage that I want to license to a manufacturer. I have a recipe, though I feel like the manufacturer might need to tweak it a bit before it’s ready for consumers (maybe add a preservative, or some other mysterious ingredient from a food scientist). I also have an innovative packaging idea and a very detailed marketing plan.

    I’m wondering if a PPA is right for me, if I need to get more than one. Also, I have been thinking that in order to safeguard the idea I should have the recipe exactly as necessary for production.

    Finally, I’m a little intimidated by the beverage industry. Have you had any experience in licensing food or beverage products?

    Thanks!

    Clay

  107. Hello James,

    Here are two other major deal points…..

    Your also going to have your royalty rate, territory covered ( for example USA or Worldwide).

    Their are many other details that also need to be included that are to various to go into here.

    -Stephen

  108. Hello Clayton,

    The beverage business and packaging business are two very different types of biz, so the advice would be different for each.

    Yeah, the beverage biz can be a bit intimidating at times. I have some experience there. Give me a call at 650-793-1477 if you want some advice.

    I have even more experience in the packaging biz. That’s a tough biz too, but the royalties can really add up because such huge volume is done there.

    Yes, the PPA is a great tool and a good idea for your packaging idea. You need to decide what is right for you though.

    You might also want to consider keeping things a trade secret for your beverage idea, although some beverage ideas can be patentable. You should also consider the use of NDA’s.

    You really need to do your research and understand your options before taking any action. Please seek the services of an attorney if you need legal advice.

    -Stephen

    1. Hello Stephen:

      I’d appreciate your assistance when you get a chance.

      I was wondering what your take is on smart phone app ideas. Which choice below would you recommend? Why or why not?

      1. Licensing you smart phone app idea and receiving about a 5% royalty on a product that costs $1

      2. Incurring more cost by hiring a personal developer, but obtaining full ownership of the app

      Also, can you get a PPA on a smart phone app idea?

      Thanks again for all of your help. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

      PJ

  109. Hello PJ,

    I think you could go either way with your app idea. Each has it’s upside and downside. It’s really what’s right for you.

    It’s all about volume with licensing. 5% of a $1 app that only sells a limited amount of units will not add up to much money. Also, keep in mind that royalties for software are quite often much higher. I would ask for a higher royalty than 5%….. especially if your app is for a nitch.

    If you only spend a week or two pitching an app idea and the software developer develops the app and pays you your royalty, risking their money in the investment and not yours, that’s not such a bad deal.

    On the other hand, you could develop it yourself. However if you don’t know how to promote it, you may never even earn the money you invested, plus there’s all the time and hard work you put into the project.

    Their are a million and one apps out their. You not only need to write a good app people like, but you also need to know how to promote it. An app manufacturer with experience in this area may be better equipped to do this than you.

    So, again, take a look at what you like to do. Come up with ideas, sell them and move on? Or run an ongoing business.

    One is not right or wrong. It’s what’s right for you.

    -Stephen

    1. Stephen,

      Thanks for the great advice! I completely agree with you.

      I’d be extremely grateful if you could answer a few more questions for me:

      Is it possible to obtain a PPA on a smart phone app?

      In other words, what is the best way to protect your app?

      Will a copyright of your app suffice?

      Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you.

      Cheers,

      PJ

  110. Hello PJ,

    Without having more specifics(which would not be appropriate for this forum since it is public) I can’t answer your question about what type of intellectual property you should seek. That’s the type of question you should ask a patent attorney since you are asking for legal advice.

    -Stephen

  111. Wow, I’ve found this post after a few years of buying the 4 hour work week. Me an my brother came up with a small, but good idea (we think) and I wanted to re-check this post.

    Stephen – I can’t believe you’re still sticking so close to this post. That should speak volumes.

    Also, has anybody had anything licensed after being motivated by this post alone?

  112. Like many inventors I had an idea but felt powerless to pursue it. After reading this blog I thought I could pursue my idea. I did a patent search and found that the idea was already patented and had expired. I also found three or four high-end products that were already being sold. I had never heard of the products that’s why I re-invented it. I believe the idea could appeal to more people if it was cheaper and more widely known.

    My question is, is there a way I could sell this idea to other companies who are either unaware of its existence and/or could mass produce it for less? I won’t have any patent protection but I feel the idea is worth something for bringing it to their attention.

    -GTS

    1. GTS,

      Great question. I would never expect a company in a particular product category to not be aware of similar products in the same category. That would be a bad idea.

      What i would recommend is to keep inventing. Come up with with that low priced version you talked about. Maybe to get it low priced, it would be done differently making it possible to get some patent protection.

  113. Ryan,

    I really enjoy teaching people how to license and sell their ideas.

    Sometimes people ask me why i do it.

    I tell them I’ve gotten ten time more back from teaching and mentoring than I’ve given and I’ve given a lot. It’s so rewarding to get people unstuck and moving forward with their projects. There is much more to life than money.

    My business partner Andrew Krauss does a lot of our coaching and has commented that we keep people from “What If’ing” themselves into inaction. “What if” the manufacturer says this or “what if” they say that?

    He’s also said “By making sure our students do and say the right things we take away the great uncertainty that many people with ideas have.”

    Thank you for the kind feedback. I wish you and your brother much success with your idea.

  114. Stephen,

    It’s great to see that you are still responding to questions years after the original post. My question is this: how important is it to have drawings included in your provisional patent? I just got “down-sided” a week ago and decided to finally pursue one of my inventions, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend. It’s a pretty simple design which I hope will be the next big exercise fad. Do provisional patents need drawings to be accepted? And, if so, do you think I should try to draw them myself or hire someone to do them?

    Thanks,

    Adam

    1. Adam,

      The great thing about Provisional Patent Applications is that you don’t have to have formal drawings like you see in a Utility Patent. You can even include pictures if you like!

      With that said, you want the drawings and the parts you are calling out to be clear. So just because you can include pictures doesn’t mean you should if they are not clear.

      Another trick is to make a prototype of some sort(it may be really ugly) and then trace a picture of it to create a line drawing. You can do this by putting the picture on a glass table… shine a lamp up through the bottom and put a piece of paper on top to trace your photo. Or you could do this in Photoshop.

  115. Stephen,

    Wow. If my calculations are correct… you’re replying to this four year old post while on VACATION. Nobody can question your sincerity in helping people.

    I bought your book, One Simple Idea, in July and when it arrived on my doorstep I read it cover to cover… taking all of your advice to heart – especially steps 1 and 2 (to study and innovate FOR the market). I’m doing that now while I set up my LLC so I can quickly send a professional looking sell sheet packet when I get the first interested manufacturer on the phone. I just have a couple questions:

    #1 > You are well known for personally taking the phone calls of your students… even pre-students like me. When someone signs up for the inventRight course and they get ‘one year of personal coaching’… what happens after the year is up? Are we allowed to call you again?

    #2 > Is there a follow on ‘year 2 plan’ and ‘year 3 plan’ at a reduced membership rate? Or a ‘lifetime student’ package?

    Thx Stephen! I’m thoroughly enjoying your website’s 1-hour webinar interviews with those students who have successfully licensed their first products with your help… great motivation!!!

    Dave in VA

  116. Hello Dave,

    Sounds like you are taking action. That’s fantastic! Keep up the good work.

    Regarding your questions:

    Question #1

    “#1 > You are well known for personally taking the phone calls of your students… even pre-students like me. When someone signs up for the inventRight course and they get ‘one year of personal coaching’… what happens after the year is up? Are we allowed to call you again?”

    Yes, I personally talk to any one of my students that wants some advice from me. I am proud that we don’t make it hard to get a hold of me. Anyone of my students can reach me anytime.

    But, of course I don’t take all the support calls. I Co-Founded inventRight with Andrew Krauss 10 years ago and couldn’t run the business without him.

    He’s the most patient guy I know and takes the vast majority of our support calls. Over 10 years, he and I have become very skilled at coaching our students. We honed our approach together. In addition to my own personal experiences, much of what you’ve read in the book “One Simple Idea” is based on the principals we’ve developed over the last 10 years of coaching our students.

    After 10 years, i would hope that anyone would be great at what they do day in and day out. Andrew Krauss runs the business and is always there for our students when they need him. So, if you become a student, you would be wise to get help from him.

    Yes, you can renew at a lower rate after year one if you like. However, the goal is to get you familiar with all aspects of licensing during your year with us, so that you don’t need us anymore.

    Question #2

    “#2 > Is there a follow on ‘year 2 plan’ and ‘year 3 plan’ at a reduced membership rate? Or a ‘lifetime student’ package?”

    Yes, you can renew at a lower rate for year two and three if you wish. There is no lifetime plan. We’ve been doing inventRight for 10 years, and have no plans to stop, however I don’t see how we could commit to lifetime plan.

    -Stephen

  117. Stephen, I am currently in the process of reading your informative and intriguing book, One Simple Idea, and I must say, it has definitely enhanced my thirst for innovation. I am young, and I suppose age does not matter all that much, but possibly it does in terms of limited experiences in this realm. I have many ideas that are circulating in my brain at this moment, but one of my ideas, I feel, needs to get to the market as soon as possible. With that being said, I completed a benefit statement and am currently working on a selling sheet. However, I am now wondering if my idea would be applicable for filing a PPA. I know they are only possible for utility patents. A similar product is already in the market (to some degree), although the underlying concept and aesthetics is what differs. Basically, a modification to a pre-existing product. Does this idea seem to qualify under the branch of a utility patent? Thank you in advance for your help!

  118. Hello Stephen

    I have an invention that I want to licence and sell to a major company (lets use mc donalds as the example) how do I get them to take me seriously? And how do I get them to give me a chance to show them my idea?

    Also how do I go about getting worldwide protection on my invention? I only want a provisional patent application but is there a way to get worldwide protection from this method of protecting my invention?

    Can’t wait to hear back from you!!! I am from the UK is there an email where I can contact you directly?

    Thank you so much

    Brandon

  119. Hello Stephen

    I have an idea that I want to patent and sell to a large company (lets use mc donalds as the example) how do I get them to take me seriously? How do I get them to allow me to have some of their time and show them my invention?

    Also I want worldwide protection on my idea but how do I go about that with only a provisional patent application?

    Many thanks

    Brandon

  120. Brandon,

    One trick to get into a really big company is to go through their advertising agency. They are responsible for coming up with new campaigns and showing them to their client. I’ve had some success with this approach.

    With regards to your worldwide patent question, you can get temporary protection in many countries at once by filling a PCT. I don’t have the space to go into the details here. I suggest you look it up on the Internet or talk to your patent attorney to get more info.

    -Stephen

  121. Stephen, many thanks for generously answering all the questions on this blog. It’s much appreciated.

    I’ve not even finished your book yet, so I’ll refrain from asking any of my own for now 🙂

    Ed

  122. Stephen,

    Have you or anyone else here tried filing a provisional patent using the USPTO’s EFS-Web? The whole process is just so frustrating. I get that you need to submit a Provisional Cover Sheet (SB16), but what other information is needed? How do you submit the rest of the information? Do I just put an abstract and description in an ASCII text file? How should it be formatted? Do I need to embed illustrations in a PDF to submit them?

    Trying to sift through the mountain of garbage on the USPTO’s website to find the answers to these questions can drive a person mad. It shouldn’t be this hard.

    I can find plenty of examples of existing patents, but where can I find examples of files to be submitted through EFS-Web to apply for a provisional patent? Or, if no one knows, is there a forum somewhere that I can ask?

    Thanks,

    Adam

  123. Stephen, thank for your offer, here’s the first one: I have an idea which can make a particular class of consumer products much more attractive, but it involves REMOVING rather than adding something.

    Is this kind of thing patentable? It’s a very simple idea, obviously doesn’t add to the cost, is pretty obvious, and has been used on different types of products for decades.

    All I’m doing is suggesting it be used for a different class of products.

    Maybe there’s a different way of protecting this idea?

    Thanks in advance!

  124. Ed,

    Feel free to book a one time free phone consult with my business partner Andrew Krauss.

    You can book an appointment with him at http://www.inventRight.com/411 then call him at 650-793-1477 at the time you book.

    We are not attorneys and can’t offer you legal advice, however Andrew may be able to give you some ideas as to what you might protect from an Inventors standpoint.

    -Stephen

  125. Hi, Mr. Tim

    I am currently reading the expanded version of 4HWW and I’m in the verge of making a major turn around in my life. I have a prototype (Haha big name) for a product and I need ideas as far as where to go to get it manufactured. this is a beauty/ OTC product. I welcome any suggestions or ideas from advertising to website design. thank you all,

    L

    1. L.,

      Pick up Stephen Key’s book, One Simple Idea, and follow the 10 step plan. In talking about looking for a manufacturer so you can advertise your new product company and website… you are about to slip over the side of your boat into dangerous and choppy waters. Don’t do it all yourself! Instead, save yourself a lot of money and frustration by simply “licensing” your idea… the Stephen Key way. Good luck to you during this exciting time!

      Dave Duke

      Jr. Product Developer

      Port Royal, VA

      1. Hello Stephen,

        I’d appreciate your advice on situation I’m dealing with.

        I have an invention/idea for a niche market which I would like to sell to a high-profiled company in this specific market.

        My product can’t be protected by patent because at its core its an idea, and it does not fit into the patent categories.

        Also, I have a prototype which I would like to use when I present my idea to these companies.

        What is the proper way to approach these companies with my idea if the idea can not be protected by patent?

        Having done some research it seems like copyrighting the product and using a non-disclosure agreement before disclosing the idea can help protect it. However, I have this concern that after I show a buyer my idea and we sign a non-disclosure agreement, the buyer can easily say “Oh we already thought of that idea before you showed us,” and then they just take my idea. How can I prevent this from happening?

        I’d really appreciate any advice here, Stephen. Thanks for all your help.

        P

  126. P,

    Yes, NDA’s are one way to protect your idea when you can’t get a Patent or a Provisional Patent.

    Copyrights and trademarks will also work in some cases. It really depends on the idea.

    In ten years of teaching our students how to license ideas, I’ve never had one of our students get ripped off. It’s possible and I’m sure it will happen one day. It’s just a numbers game.

    However, I think the reason why none of our students have had an idea taken is because they are conducting themselves professionally when they talk to companies.

    Conducting your self professionally and looking like you know what you are doing is actually one of your strongest forms of protection.

    -Stephen

    1. Stephen,

      I have a product that was invented by my grandfather in the 1980s. He patented it and tried to sell it but had no luck. He passed away in 1985 and now the product’s patent has run out. What would be the best way to try to license this product?

      The technology of it has been surpassed but I have come up with a new way of marketing it to new group of consumers.

      Thanks for all your amazing work and generosity.

      Ernie

  127. Ernie,

    First off ….. I think it’s great that you are trying to continue on your grandfathers idea.

    If the technology has been surpassed and the patent has expired, your going to need to come up with a new way of implementing the idea.

    Does this new way of marketing require you to change the product up and maybe give it a new patentable feature? If so, that would be the route to go.

    -Stephen

  128. Thanks Mr. Key.

    Basically, the technology isn’t used much anymore but I have a new group to market it to. It could be modified to get the new patent, which is something that I learned a few years ago needed to be done when a patent runs out.

    I think my grandfather would have done well to know a little more about licensing the way you do. I’m reading your book and it seems he did everything backwards.

    I have a few other irons in the fire right now but I think I’m going to try out your course. Learning directly from you guys will help me out with my confidence both in approaching companies and with my confidence in this project.

  129. How would I go about presenting and protecting a website/marketing idea that is completely original and would produce massive appeal for the fashion industry? Is this possible to protect and if so, is it the standard Provisional Patent as noted above? Thanks-

  130. Called Andrew and talked to him for about fifteen minutes. I’m amazed by the fact that he and Stephen find the time to talk to ordinary wannabees like me. Andrew was awesome to talk to, just an ordinary, nice guy with tremendous advice and solid, honest evaluation of my ideas.

    Seriously, if you have an idea that you are not sure about just go onto the site, make an appointment, and make the call. I don’t know if I’ll get a licensing deal out of that fifteen minutes but it has definitely put me on the right track.

    Thanks Mr. Key and Mr. Krauss. I appreciate it.

  131. Kevin,

    First figure out where your product would sell. Then look around at the manufacturers selling at that retailer. Those are your potential licensees.

    For example:

    You have a hammer idea > Where do they sell hammers? > Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, Walmart, Target ect > Look who is selling hammers at these retail locations. > You know they are qualified because they have other products in some big retailers > DONE > You have your list!

    -Stephen

  132. Kevin,

    When it comes to finding manufacturers, there are several ways to do it. One of the easiest is to just go to your favorite search engine (yahoo, google, bing, etc) and type in the main phrase of your idea plus the word “manufacturer”. That may seem obvious but I have had a lot of luck with that. Another method is to find brands of competitors for your idea or product idea. Odds are those brands have a common manufacturer or one that can do what you’re looking for. Once you find a brand, just do another search online for that brand’s manufacturer. I’ve found a bunch that way. Of course, if you can’t find the supplier of a specific brand, call up the brand themselves and ask someone who makes their product. Often times people will give that info out.

    I know several people on here have mentioned Alibaba before and I’m sure it’s great but it seems very nebulous to someone who is just starting out.

    When you do find a manufacturer, look for the “contact us” that is usually at the bottom of the page. Since you are going to need to call (not email) I always suggest using suppliers that are in your country just because there won’t be a language barrier. If it is your first time working with a manufacturer it can be a huge road block and you may not want to hire a translator at the onset of your business.

    Hope this helps a little. 🙂

  133. I recently stumbled upon this article and read the comments. There wealth of information amazes me.

    I invented a product and have been using it in my company for a few months now. I recently took it to an industry convention. I had a small booth and did demonstrations showing the product and how it worked. The responses I recieved were a bit overwhelming. I received a very nice award for “Innovator of the Year” and almost every Distributor there wants to sell my product. Some want exclusives, one is offering financial assistance.

    I have been manufacturing this product my self, and have received some quotes from other manufacturers. I have a provisional patent application on file with the USPTO.

    I think I would like to try and license the product. Can I license it to more than one company and still offer it to smaller disrtibutors? It seems to me doing so would not be the best way, if it even can be done.

    KevinP

    1. KevinP,

      Yes, you can license to multiple companies. You just need to think about overlap.

      If you licensed to one company in Europe and another for US and Canadian distribution, that would work.

      However, most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to license two two different companies selling in the same stores.

      Maybe you have an industrial version and a consumer version. And two different companies with two different different distribution channels. That would make sense.

      There are a million different scenarios. These are just a few examples. Just use common sense and you should be fine.

      -Stephen

  134. KevinP,

    Congrats on all the interest you are getting. That’s fantastic!

    Yes, you can license to multiple companies. You just need to think about overlap.

    If you licensed to one company in Europe and another for US and Canadian distribution, that would work.

    However, most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to license two two different companies selling in the same stores.

    Maybe you have an industrial version and a consumer version. And two different companies with two different different distribution channels. That would make sense.

    There are a million different scenarios. These are just a few examples. Just use common sense and you should be fine.

    -Stephen

  135. Stephen,

    Just got your book last week and I’ve almost finished. Great information and I like how it builds and reviews everything. I have several ideas for products and 1 in particular I’m going to start with. i have a Provisional patent on it and I’m working on my market research still. I have a couple of questions.

    How do I know how much it will cost the manufacturer to make it? I don’t know any industry experts to ask this.

    When do you use a nondisclosure?

    Thanks

    Jason

  136. Stephen,

    My sincerest appreciation for your time and advice—I wish I had found this blog several years ago. Two of my closest friends and I have been working on a “newly revisited” product that we believe has tremendous potential. In its current state, it is used by everyone in the world. We have already produced a fully functional, aluminum prototype, acquired a Provisional Patent and have developed a “Promotional” website—geared at 12 of our favorite/hopeful manufactures.

    We are currently in the final phase of personalizing a letter to the President/CEO of each company. which will be accompanied by a “Proposal to Sale” booklet….similar to the Single Sheet you’ve mentioned, but with just a few extra pages and a link to the website (these 12 companies will be the first to see it – as it’s aimed at inviting them to bid on the product – and closes on a certain date).

    My question is—are we committing product suicide by opening up this idea to bid by competing manufacture/brands (perhaps coming across as “arrogant inventors” – assuming they would even enter into a bidding battle).

    Or, if by chance, the idea were to be good enough—is it possible that we might receive and invitation to sell it out-right, which I think is what we would like (perhaps with some small royalty attached) Sorry, I know that sounds arrogant…but the existing market potential and current sales are well into the billions.

    Thank you, in advance for your thoughts and comments.

    -Steve

    P.S. Great name by the way!

  137. Steve,

    When you pitch your product to companies, should never pit them against other companies. That is not the right approach.

    Instead, just make a great sell sheet and see what their feedback is.

    -Stephen

  138. Jason,

    One really easy way to figure out how much an idea will cost to make is to look at similar ideas in the marketplace.

    Many times, you can make assumptions…….such as……

    If they can sell THAT for $9.95, then i don’t see why they couldn’t make mine for around the same price. Look for similar products to guess if they can make yours. Quite often this is enough.

    If the manufacturer likes your idea, they will let you know if they have manufacturing concerns.

    If that doesn’t work for you, you can always go to a contract manufacturer like you find on http://www.mfg.com and get a price quote. Don’t tell them your an inventor. Tell them you are a designer and you have a client. This client needs THIS. Can you make it and for how much? Give them some big numbers to get an idea on price.

    -Stephen

  139. Gentlemen… How in the heck can you get an invention idea off the ground in 3 weeks…??? How can you get feed back from retailers on your invention without telling what it is..?? Especially a consumer product.

    Can you approach potential manufacturers just after you sent your PPA in by U S Mail. Must you wait until you recieve your PPA Number?? Wouldn,t that be a waste of several weeks?

    I am an 80 year old with a bx full of inventions. I can not memorize to well anymore. Should I not hire a licensing attorney to negotiate a deal for me??

    I have never liscenced anything befor … Do you use a standard universal license agreement..?? Thanks for your time.

    Best wishes;

    Bob Garabedian pops12@netptc.net

  140. Bob,

    Usually it only takes two days or so to get a confirmation back from the patent office if you electronically file your PPA. No need to wait a couple weeks.

    Three weeks is actually not unrealistic for a timeline to know if your ideas has legs.

    For many ideas, you can get a good read if there is interest in your idea within three weeks of making your first calls.

    No, there is no standard licensing agreement. Never use a template!

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

  141. I am in the midst of filing my provisional patent application. Is there anything I should be aware of or lookout for specifically to protect my invention as comprehensively as possible? My idea could use several styles of one component. Should I state every possible configuration of this combination to be sure I am protected on all sides as well as every possible type of material this product can be manufactured with? Thanks-

  142. Colleen,

    You need to read up on Provisional Patents a bit. It would be hard to give a decent answer in a few paragraphs on a blog and do your question justice.

    Our inventRight students use the patent software Patent Ease. Using patent software seems to go a long way as to guiding inventors along when filling a provisional patent application.

    -Stephen

  143. Stephen,

    Hello, my name is Dean and i have a great idea and i want to know how do i get that idea or lisense it to a fourune 500 company.

    And how do i sell it? I have no patton and i dont have a prototype and its a brilliant idea and i dont know how to get it in the market or how to get it on a commercial.

    Please i need the right contact and the correct procces to go through to get my idea out there and to be succesful.

    I need help and who should i contact first and what would be the best?

    – Dean

  144. Stephen,

    There are so many sites out there that claim to know that big firms like Google will not listen to outside ideas.

    I’m starting to believe them. Have you seen the Google page that allows you to give them your ideas free of charge:

    http://www.google.com/support/contact/bin/request.py?hl=en&contact_type=bizdev&rd=1

    You are one of the few encouraging voices on the Internet.

    Does anyone list companies that are willing to look at ideas from the outside?

    -Eric

    1. Eric,

      Yes, there are many companies that are open to outside ideas. We even started a free database of companies looking for ideas.

      You can access it here.

      http://www.inventright.com/links/

      Of course, this is not a database of every company in the world looking for outside ideas, but it does illustrate that companies ARE looking for your ideas.

      Really, the best way to make your list of companies for a particular idea is not to look for a list, but create your own list of the ideal companies that are right for the idea you are working on.

      It’s as simple as going down to home depot for example if you are working on a new innovative hammer. Look around at who is selling hammers there and those are you potential licensees. Don’t worry if 11 out of the 12 companies you call aren’t interested. You only need one!

      And don’t worry if a few don’t take outside ideas. It’s just a numbers game.

      Andrew Krauss

      inventRight Co-Founder

  145. Hello Dean,

    Your questions are a little to broad to go into here on a forum, however i will answer your question about where to start.

    “Study The Marketplace” meaning look at all the other products out there in the same space as yours and compare the benefits and pricing of these products to yours. Be as objective as you can and figure out how your products fit’s in with what’s already out there.

    -Stephen

    1. Stephen,

      You’re right. I didn’t mention my marketplace.

      My product idea is for TV. It would be a great fit for companies like Google (who has GoogleTV), Verizon and Comcast.

      I’ve researched the marketplace and there is no other idea like it.

      As I posted earlier, Google won’t take ideas from the outside unless you donate them to their company. As if they are a non-profit!

      Now that you know my marketplace, are there any lists of companies that accept ideas from the outside? I’ve already eliminated Google from the pack.

      -Eric

  146. Hi Stephen, I have invented a baby product that is unique in design and have been selling it on my website for the last 8 months (and have a Provisional Patent on it, but time is running out). I am now considering licensing it since (like you) I have discovered that I like inventing more than figuring out cash flow etc. My question is, can I license the brand name with the product or is it customary that they take the product on as whatever they want to call it. Also, (and this might sound naive) when you are talking about manufacturers in the market, are you talking about major brand names in the industry as the ones I should be researching and calling on? I guess my main concern with licensing this is that since it is in fashion (somewhat), if they would want to scale down my product using lesser quality fabrics etc and if so would I have say so over that? I plan on picking up your book to get a better handle on some things, but thought I would ask you yourself on these specific things regarding my product in the baby market.

    Thanks so much!

  147. Hi Tim; Invented a new product, launched the company in April 2011, been approached by companies for merger or other ventures, no takers yet. Billion dollar worldwide reusable bottle market. In over 70 Stores in USA and Canada, with reorders. http://www.pureglassbottle.com is like no product you have seen, if you break the glass bottle all glass and liquid stays within the clear BPA free coating. Here’s my problem, growth is slow but steady, I need a partner, licensing partner, or major marketing help. Willing to share in company.

    Please look it over at http://www.pureglassbottle.com and watch the video under the tab;PURE Advantages to understand the product. Call me!

  148. Mandi,

    Yes, you would license to the companies with brand names.

    And yes, you will loose some control. They may want to name your product something different or change the patterns or colors. However, you won’t need to run a company anymore or worry about cash flow since you’ll be receiving royalties.

    Enjoy the book!

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

    I co-founded inventRight with Stephen Key over 10 years ago

  149. Walt,

    Very cool!

    A glass bottle without the breakage concern!

    Yes, i agree. You need to find a potential licensee that can get it out there in a big way fast. Find several licensees that already have distribution where you want to be and license to them. We can show you how to do it if you like or you can do it on your own. Either way, i wish you much success.

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

    co-founded inventRight with Stephen Key over 10 years ago

  150. Stephen,

    Hi my name is Mike. I have an idea on how to bring increased sales to one companies new product. It involves taking that product and renting it in a target market next to an other product by a different company. Is there a way to protect my idea even though it is just a marketing strategy? I am convinced there is a very small window before this is seen every where in this target market. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

  151. It sounds like only patentable ideas can be “rented” i.e. licensed.

    Is it possible to rent an innovative idea to improve a company’s website eg. something that customers want improved and would attract them to buy more online, that no one else currently offers, or an app that does the same?

  152. Mike,

    We get that type of question often.

    Is it possible to license a marketing idea?

    Yes it is possible, however it’s definitely going to be more difficult than licensing a physical product. If they like your idea, it’s more likely that you could get a job as a consultant with the company rather than a royalty. If you were working at the company, you might get a promotion.

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

    co-founded inventRight with Stephen Key over 10 years ago

  153. Andrew,

    Great, thanks for the response.

    Are you saying it’s possible to do it without a provisional patent? If so, how?

    Or are you saying that some website or app ideas are patentable?

    An example would be that I have an idea for a way to hugely improve user flexibility for creating photo books online. One new company (and they alone, so far) recently took a half step towards my idea (without my help) and is now ranked #1, so that suggests that my idea could really make a huge difference.

  154. Cherie,

    I’m saying it’s possible to make an improvement to a web site or app and license it.

    And yes, it is possible to patent an app.

    However, without getting into the specifics, I’ll have to give you the answer patent attorneys always give…….”It depends”. Doesn’t that drive you nuts?

    I can understand why they say that though. It’s because it depends on what has been done before and the prior art.

    -Andrew

  155. I have been most curious about this for a while now. HOW CAN YOU GET FEEDBACK FROM A MANUFACTURER WITH OUT TELLING HIM OR HER WHAT THE PRODUCT IS>>> ?? Also what should you do when most companies you contact even with your PPA … still want a patent..??

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS SITE. I AM 80 AND STILL TRYING.

    SINCERELY;

    I.Bob Garabedian pops12@netptc.net

  156. Hi Stephen and Andrew,

    First off, I am very impressed that you take the time to respond to a 5 year old post. I don’t even respond to 2 day old Facebook posts and I’m not nearly as busy as you guys. Thanks for doing it I learned a lot.

    I was wondering if you could please take a look at my idea, I did a pretty thorough product and Google patent search and it is original at least, hopefully good. I made a 1 min video of my prototype, short and sweet.

    I sent the email to your inventright address I titled it “1 min Video” and my email is (hover over name for email). Thank you so much for your time.

    Mahalo,

    Albert Molina

  157. Bob,

    In most cases you wouldn’t want to try to get feedback from a manufacturers without telling them what it is. They don’t have time to play a guessing game with you.

    However there might be instances where it would make sense. In that case, just tell them what the benefit of the idea is and see if they want more info, however at some point you will need to show them your idea.

    A few companies insist on you having an issued patent and don’t like it if you have a PPA. I would just move on. Most companies are ok with a PPA.

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

    co-founded inventRight with Stephen Key over 10 years ago

    1. Hello Andrew and Mr. Key;

      That old guy Bob Garabedian here. WOW,,, how neat. How I wish I met you guys 20 years ago. I am taking your advise and only going to try to go after the companies that are interested in my products. If they do not except a PPA … just go on to the next one. I really wanted the big guyz because they have all the marketing all set up already. BUT, some thing is far better than nothing. ALSO, because of your kindness to HELP us dummer guys I will send you free samples of my products when I get them licensed. I hope you can use 3 new trash cans. My next product will be the mechanics pocket wrench. THANKYOU.

      Best wishes;

      I. Bob Garabedian Friant, Calif

  158. Albert,

    Your welcome. Stephen and i really like what we do. It’s great to open peoples eyes to the possibility of licensing their ideas.

    Absolutely Albert. I’ll take a look at your idea and the email you sent.

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

    co-founded inventRight with Stephen Key over 10 years ago

    1. Hello Andrew;

      I just drew up a drawing of a trash can I improved by adding tools to it . Can I still PPA that?

      Thanks Andy.

      Best wishes;

      Bob Garabedian

  159. Bob,

    I’ll have to give you that very annoying answer that patent attorneys always give…. “It depends”.

    I know, i don’t like it when patent attorneys say this either, but they are right.

    It really depends on what’s been done before and what’s already been patented.

    I’d suggest doing a google product search and a google patent search.

    And then contacting a patent attorney to ask their opinion.

    -Andrew

  160. Stephen and Andrew,

    Someone new to Tims blog I was pleased to find this post and have a few ideas that I will be pursuing in the direction of licensing rather than branding my own business. Thanks for the direction! In reading all of the Q and A, I had one follow up question. You mentioned becoming a consultant to a company.

    How does one approach a company as large as say Amazon? I have an idea that would be VERY simple for a similar type of company to integrate into there current system.

    And while I cannot provide exact figures to the company (they may be able to extrapolate these out) it is however, very easy to see that by implementing such a simple “tool” or “item” to their website/company there would be many benefits. These include increased customer frequency, increased closed sales, total revenue, increased customer satisfaction and therefore customer retention.

    Any tips on pitchig or approaching a company with an idea to improve there business model while protecting my idea?

  161. Luke,

    You might be able to get a business method patent. It really depends on what your idea is.

    Present the benefits of the idea with a sell sheet and/or video. Make it really clear what the benefits of the idea are in your one page sell sheet and in less than one minute for your video.

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

  162. Hello Stephen, Andrew and Tim!

    What timing that I discover this post and the work you do! I have only very recently been discussing an idea of mine with a large food manufacturer. I happen o know someone in a high position within the company and so had easy access to getting the idea to the right people. After many months it was decided that they didnt want to go down the route my product would take them and so it was suggested that I approach similar companies. Now im on my own and I am looking for some help…! Where do I go for advice? Can you suggest any resources to help me? Regards, John

  163. John,

    There is some great free advice on our website http://www.inventRight.com . We have a free radio show and interviews with past students that have licensed ideas.

    You will also find links to our book “One Simple Idea” on our web site that would be a great help to you.

    We also provide coaching.

    Keep Inventing,

    Andrew Krauss

    Co-founded inventRight.com with Stephen Key 10 years ago to coach and mentor inventors through the licensing process

  164. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your response even thought this thread seems very long and you chaps have responded to every single one! Thank you. I am going to investigate your site immediately.

    Regards

    John

  165. What if you have a product, in my case an advanced version of the board game (Chess). I was more interested in just selling it rite out instead of royalties, and renting. Do companies do that? The article above states, to simply just call the companies, but I am afraid if I explain it, then they can just take that idea, and change one little thing to create their own. Then my PPA would have no legal leg to stand on.

  166. Joe,

    Yes, it is possible to sell your ideas outright, however it’s not advised in most cases. Companies prefer to pay you on the back end with royalties per unit. As they make money…. you make money.

    Your PPA is usually your protection. In your case, I’d copyright the rules. Copyrights are easier to enforce than patents. Copyrights don’t apply for most ideas, but they would for yours. So copyright the rules and pitch it!

    -Andrew

    inventRight Co-Founder

  167. How do you get connections or find who to market your product to for a large company? Is this something that is covered in your book?

  168. Hello.

    I have been trying to research this to try and figure out the answer to my question but so far have not had any luck. You seem very knowledgeable and after reading your page, I think licensing is the direction I need to go.. my question is: I have a design that I originally just wanted to sell to a major company/brand but the largest part of the design is actually their logo. Since it is my design can I somehow “sell” or license it to them even though it has their logo on it? I feel as though this is one of those ideas that I have to throw out because it can’t be done.

    Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!!

  169. I have an Invention patent in Alexandia, Virginia today with a Prototype invention in a company’s hands today. But it’s not going nowhere. With this company I’m working with, I plan on making an improvment prototype of the first one in the future already. Could I start that next one now without them? Doing something right here like this?

  170. Hello Kelly,

    Yes, we cover how to find potential licensees in our book “One Simple Idea”.

    Andrew Krauss – inventRight Co-Founder

    co-founded inventRight with Stephen Key over 10 years ago

  171. Well I must say that since I perchased Stephen’s book “One Simple Idea” I have secured a partnership agreement for my ideas with an escape clause to let me out early to create more simple ideas. This is my first of many products to come. Thank you stephen for writing your book. It is bang on the money with no pun intended.

  172. I have an Idea for a new beverage that I have not created a prototype for. I would like to sell my idea of the beverage and believe if it was created it would have great marketability. I do not have the means to actually create the beverage itself. Since there is not a prototype for my product, do you think I will be as successful in licensing my idea?

    Thanks!

  173. Kyle,

    There are companies that you can pay to formulate a beverage for you. They are not cheap and will cost you a few bucks. Try typing in “beverage formulation company” and a few other searches to learn more.

    -Andrew

    1. Ok. If I am wanting to sell to a larger company, would it be possible to pitch the idea of the product without the prototype? Can I license the name and idea of the product without a prototype?

      Thanks Andrew!

  174. Can you tell me how to protect a cosmetic folmula that is 99% naturel.Can one still get a PPA on it even if it is mostly naturel products?

    Thanks … BOB G

  175. Bob,

    It’s possible but tricky. You can’t patent a combination of natural substances in most cases, however you can patent a method of manufacturing. A method of manufacturing is how the product is made or processed.

    -Andrew

  176. Kyle,

    It’s possible, but it would be hard.

    You can’t own a trademark or name if you aren’t using it. You can put TM on the item letting people know you intend to use it though.

    As far as the prototype goes…. maybe you can fake one. You don’t have to have a working prototype in many cases to license an idea. After all your not selling you prototype… your selling the benefits of your idea.

    -Andrew

  177. I was experimenting with an innovation for a high volume office supply product that would offer significant new benefits, and discovered that one of the utility design options I had envisioned just came to market (without my help). It sells for a relatively high price, and is getting great reviews for exactly the benefits I had envisioned it to have.

    I have other alternate designs in mind that would offer the same benefits, and are very likely different enough to warrant different utility patents. I think my fav alternate design would look cleaner anyway, and would appeal to a different market segment.

    1) Do competitive response products license well? I would think their competitors would be interested, right?

    However, if I show a picture on a sell sheet, it would probably be very easy to copy.

    2) Would it be a good idea to contact the top competitors and say something like “Have you seen Mead’s new ___ product? I have a patent pending for a competitive response to that, but mine looks cleaner, is easier to manufacture, and could make a high profit margin at a lower price point if desired. Would you be interested?” And only then, if they show interest, show them a sell sheet with a picture on it?

    Thanks!

  178. Cherie,

    RE: variations of existing product

    Most great ideas are improvements to existing products, so yes they sell well. Consumers like to make incremental changes in the products they buy.

    RE: just copying it

    If you get a PPA, that would be your protection.

    RE: contacting competing mfgs

    No, just show them your sell sheet. No need to beat up the competition. They are most likely aware of the competition.

    -Andrew

  179. Hello Andy;

    I am at a little lose here now. I have 2 large trash can companies that have my drawings for almost 4 weeks now. How much longer should I wait.Also one large company that does not have trash cans that I submited to wants some type of release signed for each one of my 5 cans, seperatly and they want a copy of what I submited for the provisional. One can I did not include the drawings for the larger can because it is so similiar to the first one but larger with wheels. I did simply mention it when I sent in my provisional for the smaller one. I really believed that would be good enough. But , to manufacturers , I did send the seperate drawings. Is that good enough?

    Best wishes… BOb Garabedian

  180. Hello Bob,

    It’s great to see that you are moving forward with your ideas.

    Four weeks may seem long to you, however it’s not long to a manufacturer that has many other things to take care of.

    With regards to how long you should wait. I usually recommend calling a company about ten days after you initially send something to follow up.

    Drawings sounds great however, i hope you also sent them some sort of marketing piece. Stephen and i call it a sell sheet. A sell sheet highlights the benefits of your idea. It’s kinda like an advertisement or a billboard highlighting the key benefits of your invention.

    -Andrew

    1. Hello Andy;

      Thanks so much for your reply. YES, I did send a marketing sheet.

      I call it my product info sheet. In it I describe what the product is and how it does. And i also describe why the product will sell, and where.

      I also describe the feed back I have recieved from the store managers I have spoken to in Fresno, Ca. Especially homewraes and home repair stores.

      I did get a mail requist from a large store wanting to see all the material I sent in for my provisional. And a signed release form from ME. They make a statement that they will and can use any idea submited to them they feel like if it is not protected without any compensation to me. So I am not going to try to go faward with them.

      One thoing for sure…. Emails do not work. You gotta keep after them…. even if you have to make a few more calls

      Thaks again… God Bless.

      Bob G

  181. wow , first thanks for your replies , you sure have allot of real people looking for guidance stay like that , i just ordered book and i am sure you are genuine it will help me through the steps , im gonna look at book then decide on your coarse

  182. Thank you Andrew; I do have a couple companies looking at my drawings

    and material. Now for 6 weeks. I am a little embarrised to keep seeking other companies…. should I just wait a few more weeks?? or just keep contacting as many companies as I can..?

    I am very tempted to start another one of my tool inventions but I just got a feeling to wait .

    Did anybody ever do 2 or 3 at one time?

    Best wishes;

    Bob Garabedian

  183. Bob,

    Answers to your questions . . .

    It’s a good idea to follow up after submitting to a company after 10 days to check in.

    Never be embarrassed about submitting to as many companies as possible. You should feel no commitment to your potential licensees until you close a deal.

    Yes, of course you can work on multiple ideas at the same. Just make sure to make getting the oldest off your plate a priority.

    Andrew Krauss – inventRight Co-Founder

    co-founded inventRight with Stephen Key over 10 years ago

  184. Read your article, very informative, my question is when you apply for a provisional patent, is it mandatory to do a search first, that’s extra 300.00, will they let you go ahead without a patent out a search??

  185. QUESTION:

    Hi, thanks for your insight into Licensing. I have been reading your blogs for awhile.

    I have one question though: When contacting manufacturers or retailers, whom do you ask for to pitch the idea too – Marketing Director, Licensing Director, ???

    Ray

  186. Ray,

    There are many ways to call companies and get to the right person. No space here to cover them all.

    With regards to your question about who to call….

    Usually the best person to ask for in most cases is a marketing manager or if you can’t get to them, go for sales… they always pick up their phones!

    So if you are doing BBQ accessories, ask for the markting manager in charge of your BBQ accessories.

    -Andrew

    1. Thank you Andrew, for your time in answering my question.

      You folks are providing a unique community service. I am also looking for a licensing agent but this will get me going in the right direction.

      Ray

  187. Hey everyone, absolutely fascinating discussion with loads of information.

    I am a young inventor and inspiring entrepreneur. I have a great and simple idea that adds to the functionality of a product that currently sells over 20 million units a year. Without giving too much away, I would like to license this technology to a fortune 500 company and collect the royalties for my invention.

    Unfortunately, I am unsure about the exact method of doing this. I have read and search numerous blogs and posts online which have been very helpful but I still am unsure about one thing.

    When licensing a product should I create a company (LLC, C-corp, etc) assign my patent to that company then make a licensing deal between my company and the large fortune 500 company or should I attempt to license it as an individual. Is that possible? I am curious to how other inventors have done it and which method if any has the greatest chance of success? Furthermore, if I create a company to license the patent how do I get paid, do I give myself a salary, dividend paying stock, or some other way?

    Any advice, suggestions, and information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again.

  188. Taylor,

    Yes, it would be a very good idea to do your licensing deals under an LLC or a corporation. Doing a licensing deal under your name would not provide the same liability protection an LLC or corporation would.

    -Andrew

  189. Andrew,

    Thank you for the responce, my gut feeling was a corperation would be better for protecting against legal cased. Are there any advantages between an LLC and Corperation? I have heard of double taxation in some of these situations which brings me to my next question. What are my options in terms of getting paid? That is how would I transfer money from my corperation or LLC for personal use.

    Thanks again,

  190. Andrew,

    Thank you for your help. I understand that your not an attorney, and if you would rather not give advice regarding legal matters that is fine.

    The reason I am asking though is not for a definite answer but to become more educated on the various options so that once I hire an attorney I can efficiently and knowledgeably communicate to my attorney while knowing my options. In my experience it is much better for the client to have a basic understanding of the situation rather than just relying on the attorneys advice and actions.

    Thanks,

  191. Taylor,

    I agree, however i can’t and shouldn’t offer tax advice. My area of expertise is licensing new product ideas, not tax advice. I’m not the right guy to seek tax advice from.

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight.com Co-Founder

  192. If I carefully read the USPTO’s brochure (see link below) about what’s required for a provisional patent, will that likely be sufficient?

    http://www.uspto.gov/patents/resources/types/provisional_app.pdf

    Or do you highly recommend doing it with the help of software (such as PatentWizard)?

    I realize you can’t give legal advice, just looking to get an opinion about the difficulty of doing it simply by following the USPTO’s brochure. Thanks!

  193. Cherie,

    Good question.

    Yes, you should use software or a book to guide you along. The patent office isn’t going to train you with their instructions on how to write a Provisional Patent.

    Andrew Krauss

    Co-Founded inventRight with Stephen Key

    To Help Inventors License Their Ideas

  194. Hi Stephen Key,

    Love your book. Got really excited. I have a new toy idea and was very excited to license it worldwide to maximize royalties. Now i foind out no big companies like Hasbro, Mattel, Fisher_Price, Disney are interested in outside ideas.

    Now i see toy companies, but will their even be enough royalties with the smaller companies to make this all seem worthwhile.

    Enlighten me please.

    thanks and appreciate your good work!

  195. Jim,

    Yes, many of the bigger toy companies have swallowed up the small ones in recent years. So there are fewer small toy companies these days than in the past.

    First off, the toy biz is really competitive. Just know that. Personally i find other categories easier to license into. That’s not to say you shouldn’t work on licensing toys though if you are passionate about toys.

    Here’s the strategy I’d use….

    Submit to all the companies that will receive ideas directly from you.

    Then, if you don’t get any interest, have a toy agent submit your ideas to the bigger companies. Some bigger toy companies will only receive ideas from toy agents. I’d recommend going with an agent that doesn’t charge you anything unless they close a deal.

    And yes, royalties from licensing to a small company can add up. It really depends on how many units they sell of course.

    Andrew Krauss

    Co-Founded inventRight with Stephen Key

    To Help Inventors License Their Ideas

  196. Question for Stephen or Andrew:

    so if most of the ideas you submit have no protection, how do you respond if the company asks if you have patent pending?

    And then the second question, i understand they want to be first to market but why pay you with no protection when they didnt even sign and nda? 

  197. Ashley,

    The answer is to file a PPA (Provisional Patent Application) and put Patent Pending on our sell sheet. It’s only $125 to file if you file it yourself which you can do with software or a book.

    -Andrew

    1. Stephen says that sell sheet can serve as a prototype. But what if they ask if you have a prototype. Then i have to make it?

  198. Ashley,

    With many products, the licensee can look at your sell sheet and know they can make it. It’s not always necessary to make a prototype.

    And if you do make one, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

    -Andrew

  199. But what if you have a design that a provisional patent cant protect, what is the likely hood of receiving a low rate for design patents if they need to make a couple changes?

  200. Riley,

    You can license a new product without a provisional utility patent. You can also license design patents.

    If a company wants to make some changes to your idea, you should still get compensated. One way to do this is to get the potential licensee or licensee to sign and improvements clause that says any improvements they come up with…. you own.

    -Andrew

  201. I have read “One Simple Idea” and really enjoyed the book! I have an idea for a Social Media Site that would help benefit a company’s sales. Is there any way to protect my idea for the site? I didn’t think that a social media idea could be protected the same way as a product. I have also created a web domain for the site.

  202. I was wondering about protecting a media idea or marketing idea? There is not a way to license that, how would you suggest protecting it?

  203. I have recently been introduced to The 4 Hour Work Week and I love it. Now I am trying to figure out how i can apply it to my jewelry business. I do lots of one of a kind hand made jewelry, which I prefer, and I have some basic simple jewelry that sells for less than $100. Would I be able to license some of my simple jewelry designs to jewelry manufacturers?

  204. Kelly P,

    You are correct. It’s tougher to protect a new idea for a social media site. However, in many cases it is possible.

    Look into business method patents. Google it. There might be something you can protect.

    -Andrew

  205. Kim K,

    Licensing a marketing idea is without a doubt tougher than licensing a physical product. It is possible though.

    Look into business method patents. Google “Business Method Patent” and plug it into wikipedia to find out more.

    -Andrew

  206. Pattie P,

    Sure. You can license jewelry designs.

    Figure out what manufactures would be a good match for your type of jewelry, make up a one page presentation which is basically an ad (we call it a sell sheet at inventRight) and give them a call.

    -Andrew

  207. So after filing my ppa, is it safe to get a prototype manufactured in china. Or will my idea be copied before i even license it. Can i apply for a patent in china after applying for ppa in us, if needed. I am confused. Can you please explain in detail what i should do? Thanks

  208. Chris K,

    Good question. We get that one often. First off…. most of the time you don’t need a perfect working prototype. That’s not what you are selling. Your selling the benefit of your idea. So if you have a hammer that hits nails straight every time that benefit is what you are really selling. Not the prototype itself.

    Inventors that believe they need to have a beautiful working prototype that’s just like the one you see in the store end up spending more money and time than they need to. Now I’m not saying you should never build a beautiful prototype. What I’m saying is that the companies you present to are looking for a benefit they can sell first and foremost.

    If they contact you back and show interest…….that’s the main thing you want to accomplish. You can work out the details later.

    Quite often you can cannibalize other products that you find in the stores and modify them to become a “works like” or “looks like” prototype.

    If you can show them the benefit of the product in a sell sheet. That’s the most important thing. Not having a perfect prototype.

    You could also have a drawing or illustration of the idea done.

    If you are going to have a prototype done, you will most likely be doing it in the US instead of China anyways.

    inventRight Co-Founder

    Andrew Krauss

  209. Hello Andrew;

    I am wondering if it isn,t time for me to move on . I have got to many NO,s on my 5 king of all trash cans. I have got excuses from just not for us to too much tooling but great idea. I am thinkng…. is it possible to go to China with my trash cans…?? I have never done that and really wanted to keep all my innovations in the U S. One of my provisionals will expire the end of NOV.

    If I were to try to get a China,s manufacturer do I have to start all over in China.? Can you give me some feedback on that. Also, If I do not apply for my one patent in NOV>… will I tottaly lose it..? THANKS VERY MUCH ANDY.

    Sincerely, That old guy;

    Bob Garabedian

  210. Bob,

    Stephen and i get that question a lot….. “when is it time to move on?”.

    The answer is that it’s usually the time to move on when you’ve gotten no’s from every potential licensee on your list.

    Also, if companies have shared reasons with you that the product won’t work or voiced complaints that you can’t fix ….. then it’s time to move on.

    Yes, one way to move on is to manufacture the product yourself.

    Another way to move on it to start working on license another idea.

    -Andrew

  211. I’m helping my uncle get his invention licensed. Back in the late 1980’s, he had patented, prototyped, and manufactured. Before a series of unfortunate events brought things to a halt, he was starting to see some significant success with sales.

    Here’s the concern: at this point, his patent has expired – NO LONGER PROTECTED! Should we

    1. submit for a PPA with some kind of change (e.g. change material or add a doodad) and declare that it is a “patent pending” idea on the sell sheet with no mention of the old patent sitting there on the books at the USPTO

    2. put “patented” on the sell sheet, leaving off the patent number and hoping that they don’t go nosing around to see if it “technically” available

    3. try to rely solely on a NDA that we may or may not be able to get from a large corp.

    I know you can’t give us “legal advice”, but I’d like to hear thoughts. Any experience with this?

    Thanks a lot. You Guys Rock!

  212. Ben,

    RE: #1

    Yes, you could always file a PPA(Provisional Patent Application) on an improvement. You then have the right to put Patent Pending on the sell sheet.

    RE: #2

    If you filed a PPA no one can look it up during the one year your PPA is good for. That’s one of the great things about a PPA. But never ever put “Patent Pending” on a sell sheet or anywhere else if you haven’t filled a PPA or Patent. That’s against the law.

    RE: #3

    NDA’s

    That would be an option, however many companies (especially big companies) will not sign an NDA before they at least have a general idea of what you have. There are exceptions of course and you should talk to your legal advisor as to what is right for you.

    For example, if you have a new dog toy, insisting the companies you talk to sign an NDA might not be the best route to go. However if you have an engine that get’s 500 miles to the gallon, you might want to pitch that benefit and get an NDA.

    Getting a PPA is a good route to go as far as protection goes.

    This is not legal advice. Seek the services of an attorney if you need legal advice. Every situation is different.

    I don’t know anything about your product and can’t offer you advice since I know none of the specifics. NDA’s can be great at the right point and time (many of which aren’t mentioned above), so throughly study NDA’s and get legal advice before you take any action.

    -Andrew

  213. Hello Andy;

    Thanks for your reply on the 19th. I have been trying for 8 months with my trash cans and I think it is time to move on. I did get one company ask me to do all my drawings all over again with exact manufacturing dementions for one of my cans. And no guarantee that they will like it. But that they did like the idea. I figure they did not like it enough to buy it for my 5%. I did not want to spend 2000 bucks for drawings . Besides I was not selling drawings. The drawings and my info sheets should have been good enough, I believe. I could not believe they could not understand that. I did get a few that liked the isdea but that it was not for them . Anyway, I want to move on with my new pocket wrench. There are really so many tool companies. I found over 20. I am not sure where to start. The big guys are kinda silly but I do want at least national marketing. I am trying to find the 10 top selling hand tool manufacturers in the U S and START AT THE 10TH. AND take it from there. What do you think.

    THANKS ANDY. SINCERELY;

    BOB BARABEDIAN

  214. I have found a great alternate use (no modifications) for an off-the-shelf product. Should I get a PPA? How should I approach the company/competitor companies?

  215. I am a third year student taking a diploma in aeronautical. I have a stream of ideas that keep on flowing at the back of my mind but the problem is how to turn them into toungable products by maybe selling them to relevant companies. The recent one is about an improvised AUTOMATIC-UNIVERSAL JACKING MACHINE which has been approved viable by certified personnel from KENYA NATIONAL EXAMINATION CONCIL in connection to KENYA CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY, however, my key discourage has been lack of finance and i am afraid it may be sold without i realizing any profit. How do i go about it? . Kindly assist me.

  216. Mike,

    Getting a PPA is never the first step. You want to do some research first to see how your product is going to fit into the marketplace along side competing products.

    With regards to “who to call”…. yes you can call the companies product you are improving, but you should also call a long list of other companies. This way you will dramatically increase your chances of success.

    Working on a project that only has one potential licensee is not nearly as attractive as working on a project with let’s say 12 potential licensees.

    -Andrew

    1. Andrew,

      Thanks for your response. Research suggests there is no improvement needed. My idea is definitely alternate use all the way. Is there any way you can suggest I approach the company or any of its competitors in a way that I could profit?

  217. chichi chidulu,

    No worries.

    When you license your ideas, you don’t need financing. The company you license to will not only finance it, but will provide their existing distribution to sell it.

    -Andrew

  218. chichi chidulu,

    No worries.

    When you license your ideas, you don’t need financing. The company you license to will not only finance it, but will provide their existing distribution to sell it.

    -Andrew

  219. Mike,

    Got it. You have an alternate use for an existing product. I understand.

    Try to change the product (even if just in appearance) to create the perception that the product was made for your application. Then license it. You may even be able to get a patent on it. It’s hard to say though without knowing exactly what the product is.

    -Andrew

    1. I have a similar situation that I’ve been trying to figure out.

      An existing chemical already produced (by many companies, but I’m currently interested in one manufacturer in specific due to the properties of their chemical in specific) that I would like to license for an alternate use.

      I’m not sure if its possible to patent an ‘idea’ or a ‘planned use’ of an existing product before getting into licensing discussions.

      If I skip the patent portion and discuss the idea with the manufacturer, they can simply take it and run with it…

      Any suggestions/thoughts?

      many thanks

  220. Austin,

    I don’t know all the details to really answer your question, but i think you are talking about patenting on top of what they’ve done.

    You can do that, but you will need their permission to license the invention if they have a patent on the underlying technology.

    Andrew Krauss

  221. Tim, great work as always! Stephen and Andrew, thanks in advance for all the tools/tips and great book. The question I have is in regards to a product I want to license. I am patent pending on an invention that is a promotional product like a coaster. I spoke with Anheuser-Busch and they do all of their promotional products through a third party called Staples Promotional Products. They gave me a contact there and I sent her my pitch in an email. Her response was “what is your MOQ, Lead Time, and cost”. Again, I’m not trying to sell the product, just the idea, so should I tell her that? Should I try to find out who MFRs similar product and supplies that to them (then try to license the idea with them)? Or what?! Thanks for any knowledge you can float my way!

  222. Dan,

    Your welcome for the book at tips.

    Sounds like you are talking to the wrong person (probably a buyer). Let them know you are looking to license your product to their company and ask them who the right person to talk to would be. Can they forward your info?

    It’s not all bad when there is this type of confusion. It helps you verify that they are interested in the product. Now you just need to find out if they would like to license it.

    -Andrew

  223. Great information, thanks!

    This may have already been answered but, what stops a company rejecting your idea, and then stealing it themselves? Are they prevented from doing this due to the PPA you mentioned?

    Many thanks.

  224. Richard,

    We get this question a lot. There is no way to guarantee 100% that a company will never take your idea. I can say that it’s never happend to one of my students. However, I’m sure it will happen one day as there are no guarantees in business and the same rule goes for licensing new products.

    Many companies will not sign your NDA. In this case, one of your major forms of protection is your PPA (Provisional Patent Application).

    There’s also the paper trail you create with the company. And then of course the fact that many companies are more afraid of you than you should be of them. Why would they want to knowingly knock off your idea just to get sued later?

    So, yes you can get knocked off. However, if you never pitch your idea to anyone you’ll be ripping yourself off. This is 1,000 time more common than a company ripping off an inventor. I should know. I’ve been running an inventors association for 13 years and been coaching inventors at inventRight for over 10 years. I know all to well about this fear

    inventors have.

    This is a major fear inventors need to get over. Unfortunately, most inventors don’t get the answer I’m giving you hear and end up ripping themselves off by never showing their ideas to anyone.

    Andrew Krauss

    inventRight Co-Founder

  225. Andrew,

    Thanks for this information. I guess you’re never fully protected then, and the decision is either to take the ‘chance’ where success may mean seeing your idea in a shop, or remain ‘safe’ and watch while some else does it.

    Puts things into perspective really.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi again,

      I have moved forward with an idea and am now at the stage where I have a prototype, a short video / advert and I’m working on branding. I’m very pleased with the advert as I feel it will provide a better idea of the product than a simple sell sheet (which I also intend to include). I have, however, used parts of a music track by a well known band purely because it fits so well, but I’m realising that I cannot use this without their permission and that of the copyright owner so I’ll probably need to remove it unless I can acquire this at no cost (which is unlikely and dissapointing since it makes the ad so much better).

      I have nothing by way of protecting my idea. It is a mobile phone accessory and there are similar products on the market (although mine has added benefits) therefore I don’t imagine I could patent it even if I had the cash or the desire to do so.

      My next step is to begin contacting potential licensees. Is there anything I should be doing prior to this?

      Many thanks. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

      Richard.

  226. So I’ve read the ‘One Simple Idea’ book and I have a lot of ideas I may want to pursue. I do have a question however, mostly in regards to ideas that include someone or something that is trademarked or copyrighted – such as a Disney Character (or in Stephen’s case – Michael Jordan). So if you take a product and all you are doing is changing something such as a backboard – I wouldn’t think that would require a patent – so how do you go about protecting an idea such as that?

  227. Mindy,

    If you are referring to Stephen’s Michael Jordan wall ball….. there was no patent. The toy biz doesn’t always care if you have a patent or not because things move very quickly in the toy biz and they are often more concerned about being first to market.

    -Andrew

  228. Mindy,

    You are making some assumptions. One being that if you don’t have a patent, that companies will take your idea and not pay you for it.

    This is simply not true. The toy biz and other businesses need your ideas, if they stiff you and the word get’s out, who’s going to send them more ideas?

    With many products and industries, you can get away with no IP or weak IP(Intellectual Property – patents, copyrights and trademarks).

    That’s not to say this works in all industries. In some industries like packaging, you really do need a locked down patent.

    I think this answers your question.

    Let’s get you past the fear and talking action.

    -Andrew

  229. Hay guys;

    I can not get anyone interested in my 5 new trash cans. I really believe two of them are great. BUT, lots of excuses like tooling and packageing and perhaps nesting. Anyway. I got a couple months left on my last one for my provisional. I really believe the Chinese will like it. What about trying to get them to licence it from me..??

    THANKS GUYS. Still a great way to promote an idea.

    BOB G

    1. Hello Bob,

      The cost of the product and nesting issues sound like legit issues. I’d address them if you can and go back with solutions.

      Licensing in China. That would be a difficult one…

      -Andrew

  230. I have been playing with a couple ideas for licensing and patents for a few years, but have not had the money to file them and risk the time and money to build a prototype and this post was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

    1. Julia,

      That’s fantastic!

      Many people don’t move forward with their ideas because they think they need money for patents and prototypes.

      I’m glad you now realize this is simply not the case.

      -Andrew

  231. Can someone successfully license inventions to US companies from overseas, using Skype, video, and Skype-to-phone, or is it usually necessary for companies to meet you and see the presentation/prototypes in person? Also, is it necessary to pose as an licensing agency or can someone represent him or herself?

    I am a US citizen currently living/working in Thailand, but can contact companies Skype-to-phone, and email them a link to a product video presention if any express interest in seeing it.

    1. Rachel,

      Great questions. Stephen and i get this question often.

      There is no reason to do in person meetings when licensing.

      You can license your ideas via the phone or (Skype to phone) and email.

      Your not selling yourself, your selling the benefits of your idea. In person meetings are not necessary.

      Yes, you can absolutely represent yourself. No need to pretend to be an agent. That’s not necessary.

      If you use the approach we teach, you can license from Thailand just as if you were in the US. There should be no difference as to your approach.

      The only big difference is that you may need to work slightly odd hours to accomodate your calls to the US.

      So go for it! You are at no disadvantage.

  232. Hi, massive fan of the 4HWW thank you for the inspiration!

    I am after some advice of how to create a license for a skill…I am developing a new fitness training method for PTs and the like, to learn from me and then for them to use on their clients. I want to keep control of that skill they have learnt by asking the to sign up to a license to practice it and use the brand name. Just assume that the brand name is worth something to the trainers, how does one set up the license for the to effectively join the club..!? Any advice is appreciated.

    Thank you.

    E. Hill

    1. Edward,

      Interesting question.

      Your trademark and a business method patent, plus copyrighting your materials should do the trick for protection.

      And yes of course a contract as you suggested would be a must.

      Your more or less selling a franchise.

      -Andrew

      1. Andrew, I really appreciate your reply thank you.

        I will look further into a business method patent, I haven’t heard of this before.

        Is your company still running the free teleconference service that has been mentioned in this thread? I’d love to learns some more about licensing.

        Thank you,

        Ed

        1. Edward,

          We aren’t doing tele-conferences anymore, however we do have a lot of cool free stuff on our website.

          There’s ton’s of free advice on our website.

          One free thing people seem to enjoy is our radio show.

          Check out our “help menu” at http://www.inventRight.com for other free stuff as well like our list of 1,400 companies looking for ideas.

          -Andrew

    1. Raymond,

      First thing to do would be to pick a nice simple project to “get your feet wet” and experience the entire license process.

      For your first idea, stay away from ideas with manufacturing or prototype issues.

      -Andrew

  233. Tim,

    I am currently in the process of trying to license my rights for a very simple baby sanitation product(My first product I have developed to license). I have made contact with the big fish and have gotten a very excited response from each. I have mailed off my packets with my product info. My question is how do up front advances work and how do I determine a fair price to ask for upfront e.g. $100,000? I already have my PPA filed. One trick I’ve read about is to negotiate in your contract that e.g. in the $100,000 royalties advance work out a deal to where whenever paying back the $100,000 try for a 50/50 agreement meaning 50% of my first royalty checks go to me and the other 50% go to paying back the advance this way I still have $ rolling in while the advance is being paid back. Thanks in advance.

    1. Tim,

      Asking for $100k upfront would be the best way to kill any potential licensing deal.

      You want to get your money on the back end. So as they sell units, you get paid on every unit sold.

      1. Andrew thanks for the info. However I have read several places and spoken with people and it seems advances are very common in licensing deals now I’m not saying it always happens. But in my situation I have 2-3 major companies wanting to license my product exclusively how would asking for an advance kill my deal? I will pick one and go exclusive which I know gives me more bargaining power however it has its cons e.g. I’m counting on one company to bring my product to market and sell it instead of several companies. Could you please elaborate how in my situation asking for e.g. $100,000 advance would kill my deal? Thanks

        1. Jeremy,

          I’m not saying you don’t ask for any advance. A small advance or getting your potential licensee to pay for your patents is common.

          If you are turning over tooling and inventory, 100K advance might make sense.

          However, if you are licensing your idea and have a PPA or Patent, but nothing else which is common and fine….. you don’t want to front load the deal!

          What can i say…… if you can get 100K, go for it. I’m sure there are situations where it might make sense, however I can’t think of many.

          The reason you don’t want to front load the deal is simple. Reduce their risk, so you can get the deal done. The money you want is from units sold, not upfront. If they are successful, you are successful.

          I can’t think of any other way to say it.

          Every deal is different though. Just make sure you are getting advice from someone that has done many licensing deals before. Otherwise you’ll mess up on the deal points in the contract. And there are many places to get a licensing deal wrong if you don’t know what you are doing.

          -Andrew

  234. I have had one book written about my last innovation and it got me no where. The cost was about $900.00.

    I have sent in one provisional patent application and got lost figuring out what to do with it?

    I am really interested in trying the “renting my idea”. I am not afraid of failure and I live to create. I can already see and feel my ideas in action. I am hoping to move forward with the help of this site. I will share my ventures with you all so you too can move forward and watch your dreams come true….

    Sometimes we just need the help of someone willing to share.. for this I thank you all….. chat again soon. P Sullivan

    I am off to buy the book that will move me forward… much thanks.

  235. I have a safety concept for the auto industry. It simply takes to position a set of lights at a certain way to get the safety results. I am not sure that it requires a patent. The concept/system has a cool technical name like the auto industry likes especially, LEXUS. My question is should I approach them just with the concept and have them sign a PDA and sell them on the name only? Of course, the concept goes with it.

    1. Ray,

      It’s really hard to license directly to auto manufacturers. You’re better off licensing to one of their contractors that makes parts for their cars.

      Andrew Krauss

  236. Hello. I have a very good idea for advertising for the drinks industry. It is only an idea at the moment and I have no idea how difficult it will be to manufacture as it has not being done before even though it is so simple.

    Would you be interested in talking to me and see where it goes.

    Regards

    Maurice

  237. Hello,

    With my prototype, sell sheet, and movie complete, I am now ready to begin contacting potential liscencees. I wasn’t planning to send the prototype, only the movie and sell sheet and, as such, had intended using email.

    Is there a particular approach I should be taking to contact lisencees, which may improve my chances of success, other than simply attaining email address and asking them if they’d be interested in lisencing my idea?

    Many thanks,

    Richard

      1. Andrew,

        Thanks for the great info so far. In terms of an NDA, can you simply write your own or is it better / safer to use a generic template?

        I have been emailed by a company asking that I forward this to them prior to any detail regarding my product (which, I guess is decent of them).

        Many thanks

        Richard.

  238. Dear Stephen,

    On October 29th, 2010, 8:43 am you wrote the following: ‘Go visit our home page at http://www.inventRight.com and click on “How Timea Licensed Her Idea” on the right hand side of the page”. I did not see any link for this, if possible, can you still provide a link to this.

    Thank you

    Ray

  239. Hello Andrew, my name is Chad and first off I’d like to say I love the “One simple Idea” book because it has been an eye opener to say the least .Many people talk about trying to help other’s become successful however, I truly feel like you and Stephen are really holding true to this idea and for that I say Many Thanks!!!

    Now, I have an idea regarding a modification to a lawn mower that I would like to get licensed I have tried to research contract manufacturers to find out cost and whether the product would be a go however, I found it very difficult to just find a contract manufacture who builds lawn care equipment many of the companies I found, actually manufacturer/distribute the products themselves and they could be potential licenses.

    I know you and Stephen suggest that we find out whether the product is doable first before taking the next step of getting a PPA and then proceeding forward so my question is should I just contact them to find out what I need to know or should I get a PPA first and then contact them?

    Thanks in advance for your time and assistance

    1. Chad, If you think it can be done, just go for it. You don’t have to be 100% sure it can be manufactured. Sell the benefit of the product and see if anyone is interested.

  240. Good information and simple as

    I’ve spent so much money on preparing prototypes to which I didn’t need after watching and reading your information on your website.

    Thank you for sharing

  241. Hello Andrew

    I have an idea that i have just presented. Because i do not have the money to pursue its processing a company that finances SME’s have decided to support the cause for me(and this is just my first) but they need me to get the idea patented first. Please advice.

    Secondly when you guys talk about royalties and percentages paid on every unit sold, how do i find out how many units have been sold should the case the company I’m dealing with decides to manipulate the figures? Thanks.

  242. About 7 months ago I had come up with a jewelry design that if it was made People I had talked to about it and showed them (after I had it copyrighted )would buy it as an anniversary gift. Or a plain ole I love you pendant. The uniqness of it is it can be manufactured as a neckless, stickpin for your collar, a locket, bracelet, and a few others. I don’t know how to market it. I don’t have the money. I talked briefly to a research company about it.(Davison ) and they want to go ahead and do it. But like I said before, I haven’t the money to produce it. If given the opportunity to prove it’s value I know it would be a hit. But I’m also afraid of the idea working and someone making it selling it and me be left out in the cold. I’m just proud of my work and feel I should be able to gain from it.

    Can you briefly discuss how to work out my problem.

    Thank You

    M.L. Fulford

  243. Hello there!

    I really appreciate that, years later, you’re still answering questions here! Yay!

    Here’s my question: I have a product line for a cleaning invention that will be very useful in the medical setting and cut environmental contamination by 50+%. I have filed for provisional patent protection and am pitching to large medical supply companies.

    Do you have any suggestions on where to run prototypes or how to capture SBIR /STTR grants?

    Thank you!

    kat

      1. Hi Andrew!

        I need an SBIR grant to pay for the research that makes the invention valuable enough to license. It will save about 50K lives and $20B a year but they keep needing more and more info. (It’s a cleaning invention, basically, for the medical setting.)

        Best,

        kat

  244. Hi there,

    Please advice. August of this year(2013) i pitched an idea to the area sales manager of a food manufacturing company, his name i will call Mr. Tim. Mr. Tim liked the idea so he wrote about it in his end of month(August) report which only about 3weeks ago Mr. Tim called me that his boss had minuted on the proposal, “check if this is doable” and had it sent over to R&D department. Now my concern is this: August up until now is a long time for something not to have happened from the company in question. What steps should i take to hasting the company, or should i still be patient with them? Need i say at this point that my only contact with this company is Mr. Tim which my only proof of haven discussed about an idea with him is two recordings i have of our discussion. Please what do i do, the idea hasn’t been patented yet, I only gave Mr. Tim the impression that it had?

    1. Emmanuel,

      Two or three months is not long for a big corporation. It may seem like a long time to you, however it will not seem like a long time to them. You need to understand how to move a deal forward. You clearly don’t understand and really should have filled a PPA before contacting companies.

      Second, you need to get some expert advice from someone like myself. It doesn’t need to be me, but it does need to be someone that understands licensing.

      Third, you need someone else to send all communications for you. Your written english skills are not good enough for you to be sending emails.

      Fourth, it’s always a good idea to create a paper trail via email after you talk to people.

      Fifth, you should talk to a patent attorney regarding patent protection.

      1. Clearly what i do not understand is how to move a deal forward, agreed. But the reason mainly is that i am limited when it comes to cash – how on earth does anyone approach a company without a PPA? Well, i did, and i know it is absurd! But what should i do since the lawyers are charging too much, about $220, when i can only afford about $100? So, you see my dilemma with getting a PPA.

        On your second point. Of course, i will gladly love an expert to handle this on my behalf so i can just lounge on the couch and wait till the cash starts popping in. But here i am, having to deal with giving a lawyer $220 and now i have to worry about paying an expert, also. Where do i get the money?

        To further highlight on your third point, it still boils down to cash to have someone send all my communications for me. And hey, Andrew, i try, considering that english is not my first language. However, i can do better. Do not judge me with what you have read so far, trust me…

        1. RE: PPA

          Regarding a PPA(Provisional Patent Application). It’s only $65 if you earn under $150 a year. You’ll get the micro-entity discount.

          RE: coaching

          I am not suggesting you hire someone to license the product for you, but rather that you get some coaching and good advice as to what the best path is for your product. Then you would take action and lean on that advisor. This is the best path in my opinion and particularly if you have a limited income.

          RE: Money

          If you can’t afford $65 for a PPA and maybe $80 to have a graphic designer help you with a sell sheet, you should wait to license your products until you have some money in the bank.

          RE: Your english

          I am not judging you at all. I’m saying that you need to present a professional appearance and to do that you should enlist the help of an native english speaker. Both my father and my wife are non-native english speakers. I have a great deal of respect for people that can speak multiple languages.

          I wish you much success in all your invention related endeavors.

  245. […continued]

    Fourthly, what i do have, like i mentioned in my first -well, second- message to you, are two voice recordings. Plus a third that i just recorded this morning.

    Lastly, Andrew i really do want to talk to a patent attorney, but my hands are tied. I feel i sound like a cracked record already. However, if it means iterating, again; patent + attorney = cash!

    Please advice. How do i achieve all that you have mentioned with just $100 in my wallet?

    Note: I am Nigerian, the amount i quoted in dollars above is the equivalent of what i have in naira.

    thanks a lot for your time.

    1. Believe it or not, you CAN license products with only $100 in your wallet for many ideas.

      PPA = $65

      Sell Sheet = free if you do it yourself, however being in Nigeria you could probably pay someone $35 to help you with it.

      Then go for it and call some companies !

  246. Hello there Andrew, i really hate to be a pain in your neck. But if you know anyone who could help me file a patent for $35, please hook me up! I’ll be knocking at that persons door faster than you can say ASAP as this is my major hurdle.

    As regards sell sheet, i have a friend who is quite good with photoshop – we have already worked something out.

    On the other hand, how can i make the company take up doing the patent themselves?

    1. Emmanuel:

      It’s $65 for a provisional patent and they can be filed online at the USPTO’s website. Good news- you don’t have to have an attorney! I have filed them on my own before and I thought it was easy. It’s only good for a year so you’ll need to be prepared with a “real” patent on your year anniversary and, if $65 is a big challenge, then the real patent’s expenses are likely to be a lot bigger challenge because they are far greater.

      Andrew has been very kind in giving you his free advice but he can’t make your business. Only you can do that- and he’s been generous to give his advice several times in the last few days.

      No company can be “made” to do anything-including license your idea. You have to put together a compelling argument for why they should “buy” or “rent” your idea. And then you have to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement. And then make sure it’s followed through on.

      None of this is easy or really even cheap in many cases. If it was cheap and easy like WalMart, everyone would do it. Not many of us do because it is difficult- really difficult- and finding the money to do what is needed is a piece of why it’s difficult for many of us.

      And my guess is that, if it’s a comfort, most of us on this thread are using it to ask questions instead of engaging Andrew because we are tight on cash. Otherwise, who wouldn’t love to toss a great idea at someone and say, “Go get it while I wait for you to bring me bags of money to my hammock on the beach…”

      You might try to post on something like Kiva or Kickstarter to get some initial fundraising. It’s not easy but, as anyone who’s made it and many who don’t can attest, it’s part of who you are if you’re an entrepreneur.

      Good luck and I know that I’m looking forward to hearing how you overcame so many obstacles to reach your success!

    2. Emmanuel,

      You can do a PPA yourself. The patent office filling fee is $65.

      No patent attorney will even talk to you for 2 minutes for $35.

      I think the problem here is that you don’t believe you can’t file a PPA yourself. Our course and mentoring program trains people on how to file a PPA, however the course and mentoring program is not within your budget.

      You might try finding a book on the subject.

      The inventRight approach Stephen and I teach allows people to license their ideas on a really tight budget, however you’re budget is to tight for even our approach.

      I wish you much success in all your invention related endeavors.

    1. Troy,

      There is no legal requirement to file an LLC when you do a deal with a company. However, I’d highly recommend it.

      Many of my students wait to file the LLC until they are in the midst of their first deal.

      However, this is not legal advice. Please contact an attorney if you want a legal opinion.

      1. Hi- I need to ask you a question!

        What are the disadvantages of licensing a new idea product to a larger company vs a smaller one?

        thank you very much for your time 🙂

  247. Thanks Kat, i really do appreciate your time and candid advice.

    Maybe I’m breaking my head for nothing trying to get this patent thing done. Who knows, maybe i might not need it as such. In fact, it is likely i might not need it in the long run. And my reason being that the area sales manager of the company i am talking to at the moment really does like my idea, in his words, he said, “if not for the bureaucracy of big organizations he would have ‘oked’ the idea himself and see how it goes”. I really can’t emphasize enough his cooperation. In fact, two weeks from now he has promised to personally approach R&D department to find out if they have anything lined up regarding my idea, since October was the beginning of the companies new financial year.

    I can only keep my fingers crossed and hope for something good. And I’ll also let you know how it all went. Thanks once again for your concern. And I’ll also find time to check out both kiva and kickstarter.

      1. Dez, That’s a personal decision you need to make. I’d contact your legal advisor. I can tell you what i do. I file a PPA and just get the product in. Most companies won’t sign your NDA early on. Your PPA is your protection.

  248. how do you contact manufacturers or even know who they are? I’m a RN and also have MBA, I see products and have ideas that would help people all the time but I’m never certain the process. You have given me the process now I need phone numbers

  249. Hi Stephen and Andrew,

    I am a little bit confused concerning licensing to multiply companies. If more than one company out of 100 will be interested in my product – should I choose better deal or it is legal to license the product to both of them in one country? How it works ?

    Thank you a lot for your advice and time

    1. Olga,

      That’s a good problem to have. Yes it’s legal to license your idea to more than one company. However, it doesn’t make sense if they sell the exact same thing in the exact same stores. So it’s really about using common sense. And yes…. take the best deal if you have multiple offers.

  250. Hi,

    I have an idea I really like and that I would like to have licensed. But I don’t really know how to approach this. That 1-year PPA: Is it country-specific? I mean, when I have it licensed in Canada – can still someone in Europe come up with the same idea?

    Can I have it licensed in Canada even though I am not a Canadian citizen?

    And how to find an office that offers PPA?

    Thanks a lot,

    Caroline

    1. Caroline, Google USPTO and you’ll find the patent office web site. You or anyone else in the world can file for a PPA (Provisional Patent Application). Now it’s only $65 if you earn under $150k a year. Patents only protect you in the countries in which you file them, however you may have some rights to later file internationally if you file a US PPA. This is not legal advice as I’m not a patent attorney, so please make sure to contact an attorney for legal advice.

  251. Greetings, I believe your blog could be having web

    browser compatibility issues. When I look at your site in Safari,

    it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues.

    I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up!

    Other than that, excellent website!

  252. Hello, I am a product developer and have a product patent. How do I get a list of manufacturers. It is a product for vehicles, thats designed to save lives. Thanks.

    1. Cassandra, Stephen and i have a list of 1,400 companies looking for ideas on our web site. Feel free to use it. Click on my name above to visit the inventRight web site and then look under the help menu. It’s free, but is not meant to be a go to list, but rather a supplement. You need to make your hit list from scratch. Look around where you want to sell. Then call the manufacturers selling there.

  253. Hi Andrew…great tips…what about an entrepreneur like me who has a unique gourmet pizza spice…Are the steps for licensing a food product like a spice blend similar? Thanks…Matt

    1. Hello Matt, Kitchen and cooking are hot categories. It’s tough to get a patent on what would be essentially a combination of natural substances like spices, however if you had a processing method you might be able to get some protection on a method of manufacturing. The steps to license a food product would be the same as with any other product. FYI – I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. Please contact an attorney if you are seeking legal advice.

      1. Hi Andrew,

        is it possible to modify other manufacturers product already on the market? My idea is to have this 2 products manufactured as 1 product. this 2 products are sold separately but i haven’t seen them use together as this 2 are not design to use together. My idea is to make the first product similar but slightly different design and different colour to what is on the market or as much try to make it different looks but same function. The second product won’t look the same because of its size, weight and design. But will function or will produce the same benefit just like the 1 on the market. If this 2 products will combine as 1 product it will give a more better benefits when the 2 product join together. this product is very useful that the average use in our State is about 5600 pieces per week and is a single use only. in California alone approximately 30,000 per week. Hope you can give me more advice on how to look for a manufacturer or who are interested in modified ideas. I am not very interested in making this product my own as i don’t have resources, but royalty percentage would be very good for me as this product is very useful that i use them everyday at work. and this can be use not only in 1 country but the whole world. I’m sure its been using it but not with my modified idea.

        Thank you in advance and hope to here from you.

        Richard

      2. Richard, a lot of products are created by mixing and matching two existing products into a new idea. You have to be careful that you aren’t using someone else’s technology that is patented. You can file a PPA combining what you are doing, but you might be patenting over someone, and you may possibly have to pay them to use their technology. You could license to them, but you wouldn’t be able to license to someone new without their approval. I’m not an attorney, and I’m not giving legal advice.

        This is a fairly technical question. If you have any others, please feel free to contact my business partner, Andrew Krauss, at 800-701-7993.

  254. Im looking to make some quick cash. I just want to sell my idea. I talked to a company and they are ready to sign contract for idea. I dont have money nor funds to create prototype. What can i do?

    1. Michelle, that is fantastic news about the contract! If you don’t have the funds to build a prototype, you could ask the interested company to build one for you, but you will have to find someone to build a prototype. This is called proof of concept.

  255. Hi, I have an idea about tables for daycare centers that would help promote literacy with name and word labels in a way that does not interfere with table sanitation from the adhesives commonly used in labels. How do I know if there is a market for this? Where can I start that typeof research? All I know is that Daycare regulation agencies are now big on promoting literacy using word labels and all daycares have to comply. But how do I know if Daycare and school directors rather pay extra time to the staff to sanitize after removing labels or are they willing to invest in theses tables that would eliminate that sanitizing extra time? How do I know if there is a market to even start a prototype?

    1. Mia, this is the first step in my program, and I practice what I teach! You have to study the marketplace. This will help you determine if there is a market for your idea. I would start with a sell sheet that shows the benefits of your idea, and show it to people in the industry. I’m not an attorney, and I’m not giving legal advice, but I would recommend filing a PPA to protect yourself.

  256. Hi. I am a student from a private university in nigeria. I have an idea that I will like to license to a big company.i made dogtags that glow in the dark for the final year set of my school and customers really liked them.i really think it could provide me a better platform to license my other ideas and that it can promote a company’s brand name within youths in universities .

    I am not sure of any big company like that or how to contact them.

    1. Kolade,

      I did a quick search for glow in the dark dog tags on google images. There are a lot out there. You’ll need to come up with something unique about your glow in the dark dog tags in order to license them. However, if you want to sell them I guess that’s a possibility. Sounds like you could contact a manufacture and buy them to resell.

  257. Hello, I have a idea to license a product to the three major sports leagues, nfl, nba, and mlb, however I don’t know how to manufacture the product I have in mind, is it feasible to even get a license from these sports leagues?

    1. Brian,

      Here’s the easy route….. License it to a company that already has permission to use these licenses on their merchandise. If you have a new coffee mug for example that’s in the shape of a hockey puck. Then license it to a company making coffee mugs with the NFL logo already on it. Get it?

    1. Hanna,

      I would need more info to answer your question but i’ll give some general advice on licensing apps.

      Find companies selling similar apps and license to them. Also, don’t license to companies that don’t have a good track record of success.

      If you were licensing a physical product like a new BBQ spatula, you’d hit up manufacturers that sell in places like Walmart or Target right. You know they have good distribution that way.

      Same goes for the app stores. Don’t try to sell to an app company that isn’t doing big numbers in the app stores.

  258. Dear,

    I am Goran Dulic of Serbia but currently live and work in China.Through the work that I’m working I came to a very good idea.I know that from my ideas can make millions of money. The idea of ​​such an idea can not protect you because it is not patent.What do you suggest I do?

    With respect,Goran

  259. just received my portfolio for my invention have all the paperwork for invention and business looking for manufacture and distributioner to licensed product and distribute to retail stores

  260. This info is an exact copy of what’s in Stephen Key’s book. We all know you were his student of his like any of us. It is not enough to give him a quick nod at the beginning, and then steal his ideas (e.g. “my method for you”), and run. Hope this isn’t your modus operandi, Tim.

  261. Thanks for the help here. I too have an idea which is so simple I can’t believe it’s still not on the market. I have been thinking about it for years but always thought I’d have to make a prototype & had no idea how to go about it.

  262. Hi,am a student of university of Ghana but in my country its very hard to make your idea known to the world.I

    believe i can help combat the Ebola with my program i have

    developed.The problem lies in how to find people immediately they get

    affected by the Ebola virus,with this we can easily treat the

    person.but if we are to wait till a person shows signs and symptoms of

    the virus,it implies that the virus has already matured and it has

    leave the person at the verge of dieing.Since my program can detect

    people who have contracted the virus at the initial stages,treating them is will be easier.we can

    choose to isolate these people from the society and give them

    treatment.Thanks.please how do i get companies who are interested in my idea for a detailed information about myself and my idea.Thanks

  263. My idea is High Tech equipment since the government allow anybody and everybody to

    Come in to the country my idea is a tracking devise to let you know who coming and what there intentions are and a whole background check and a high alert system for airports trains

    System building system hotels and where they are at at all times and the same for banks as well this where nobody could get into anybody account there will be a alert system to shut them down right away the high tech system will alert the FBI right away where no terrorist cant stay here thats my idea cynthia wright

  264. BTW: When cutting out things like that the straight edge should go over the material you want to keep and the open side on the waste side in case the razor gets off the straight edge you don’t cut your good material.

  265. I wish to know what you know. Thank you for the advise a need now. I have been working on my idea with invention home for a year I still waiting for something to happen I need redo my provitional patenti my question how I reach those companies .myself

  266. Thank you for the tips, I have already a Patent and a Product so I will get ready the Marketing letter. Any tips on how to deal with manufacturers. thanks.

  267. in reading your 1st book for the 2nd time, saw this info. Having been referred to as a prolific inventor by a patent attorney mentor, I’m looking for Part 2 of this great article.

    Working off cell, so pardon if there’s a link I’m not seeing.

  268. thanks for the advice. I am hopeful that it will stop the bleeding, my brain is about to explode from all my innovative ideas. One simple question, can this format work with the giants, google, apple, amazon etc. and if so what title should I be looking to contact.

  269. Great information and amazing step by step detail on how to go about this… I’ve spent over a year getting the provisional patent done and now have my idea in a prototype company and wish I came across your information sooner.

    One challenge I seemingly keep coming across is manufacturing. I’ve been trying to research a manufacturer both here in the states and overseas to manufacture my product… at the same time, I am researching marketing plans, website design, packaging etc and now, enlightened by your input on calling a manufacturer and “renting” them the idea. Unless I missed it, can you provide insight on what to look for when identifying manufacturers who will license a product or idea that will take on the manufacturing, packaging, licensing as I feel it’s my missing element to your 3-10 days or ditch the idea.

    My product has to do with both leisure and business travel and I’d love a kick in the right direction!

    Thanks for providing this info for everyone to learn from!

    Best,

    Jason Klugh

  270. Why don’t we put in a red button connected to the GPS on the miles per hour speed limit on the road that you’re on so as soon as you reach that speed limit Mark a red light goes off on yourDashboard?

  271. Great information and perfect timing as I am about to license my first deal. Thank you is not enough. It is very hard to find information on the internet without having to pay an arm and a leg. So, kudos for being the great giver that you are. I will pay it forward in every way I can. Thanks Tim, and God Bless!

  272. Many thanks!I’m very grateful to come across your site this is because i have been battling with the issue of how to get started with making my ideas known to manufacturers that needs them and how i will not be cheated since i have not done anything like this before. Thank you again.

  273. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life I have tried to start 4 businesses and failed but the ultimate goal is just to get my inventions that I love coming up with out to the world and make some money from it.thank you so much this changes everything. All the negative is gone this with this aproach.

  274. I know I have a great idea. Once I get a provisional patent, how do I get in contact with companies, or the how do I get in contact with the right person in the company I want to rent my idea to.

  275. I still don’t see any comments from Stephen in regards to what others have touched on. Patents, PPA’s and the like are useless. “Invention” companies make their money from wide-eyed inventors who don’t realize this. You don’t think JVC (first VCR for public sale) didn’t apply for a kabillion patents on their invention? Every electronics company in the world came with their own VCR getting around the patents with a their own design. Even a simple change, like moving around circuit boards, would be enough to get around JVC’s patents.

    With the internet and/or the know-how to access PPA’s or Patent Pending’s, another person/company can access the PPA, make a simple design change, and run with it before the original inventor knew what hit them.

    Steve… would you kind enough to comment?

  276. I have a helpful product that is not on the market at all. I made the prototype myself. How can I sell or license it to manufacturers and/or retailers?

  277. Hi I have a prototype made by Davison design and now I’m looking for help to get licensing and on the shelves but unfortunately Davison is not doin much to get it licensing so I would really appeeciated if some one out there is willing to go forward

  278. Wow! Tim Ferriss, I have been an inventor since the age of around 5… but I have never done anything with most of my ideas because of the patent cost issue/process. This may be a great way to move forward with my ideas! I invented all kinds of cool stuff. Not long after Uni, working as an Industrial Designer I invented a beam cross section shape that was 5% stiffer than a conventional I beam…. but it used just one third of the steel! And when I was working in KWA Design Group in Sydney I mentioned my colourful computer idea, i.e. No Beige to Danny Coster who has been a long time Apple Designer. I’ll buy the book and see if I can leverage the method of using my copious amount if innovative gadgets! 😀 These days I design Science Fiction Machines Thanks indeed!

  279. Hi everyone… seeking a little help here from lil’ ol’ England… how do I find the right firm to help me licence my new cycle clothing product to a US manufacturer

  280. I was browsing One Simple Idea and I have some questions in my mind. Since the original book was published a while back. Is the preferred way of sending sell sheets is still via Fedex or is email or some other easy way any good now. Also if you are churning out say 6 ideas a day, do you ppa them and send them or just send them cause if you do thats spending a few hundred dollars a day. If you dont then are the companies reliable in coming in an agreement with you. Wont they just dont care and make it without giving any royalty cause they are not legally obliged.

    I am confused and excited about all this. Hope to be enlightened.

  281. Hay i have patent pending on my swivel joint charger..it could be used for ipodz ipads cell phones whatever…i do i like u say sell this to companys….for royalties. …i have victory international group is interested but its takin forever

  282. Mr. Ferriss sorry to bother you. I found this article to be very informative because I am one of those people that do not have a ton of money. Would I follow the same procedures above if my ideas make an invention better or used in another way? I know I can’t just call the company because their just going to say it is in process. Could you please give me some direction? I know we all think we have good ideas and sometimes like you said they just don’t work but I would love to at least try

  283. Good Morning I was hoping you can advise me, About a year ago I went to one those invention companies to find out if my idea was worth any thing they advised me yes it was they want 9000.00 to get it up and running, and someone told me I can get it to market by myself, So I was wondering how to go about it without it costing me so much money Im a single mom and really don’t have the funds. Thank you

  284. Great post! I would like to add something. Speaking from experience, I had an idea along time ago and with little expense, I went to the malls and ask my customers directly what they thought of my product. No lawyers, no marketing people, no vultures if you what I mean. Here I get direct honest feedback from my target market without the expense or risk. By doing this we can make the necessary adjustments, reduce our mistakes and then apply Tims great tips.

  285. I have my some idea like wheelchair by fingers control no need fuel, battery no one’s assistance also needed. If you are interested can I get royalty. if what percentage. Also many similar thing.

  286. If the product is not yet in patent-pending or have not yet been granted a patent, isn’t it not safe to call companies in such an early “stage” with just an idea? Could it not be easily stolen from me?

  287. I have many ideas for products I would like to carry on, but I do not really know where I can express my idea. My family is in need of money, and I am trying to help with some creative ideas I have. Please help me where I can express my idea and get money.

  288. Would like to speak to someone I have a restaurant idea about that I believe would make an exceptional amount of money. I just need to know how to get started and who would be honest in helping me out. Thanks in advance

  289. Tim, This is not a comment, more a question. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of building with bricks loosening and falling causing injury to some below. Assuming that vibrations cause the mortar to loosen, i can up with a mortarless Interlocking block, or brick, where that can not happen. It turned out to be a remarkably sturdy construction. I call them “Encompassing locking blocks.” Received the original provision Patent and applied for another with improvements. Spoke to a brick and block manufacturer who said ” Everybody thinks they have a great idea”. That made me think, thinking I have a great idea is not enough, I must know it’s great. That was the cause of the second provisional. Worked on it until there was no possible way to improve it. Made 3D printed prototypes to be sure it went together as i saw it, and it did. The brick manufacturer is willing to take a look. My problem is, I do not know what to ask for. I’m sure he will see the potential. My blocks will assemble twice as fast as mortar constructed. They make a more stable building. No skilled labor is needed. Your suggestion of renting sounds like the best way for me to go.If I ask for him to make the molds, make the bricks, sell and ship, leaving me nothing to do; What can I ask for ?. Do I give him a five year contract for all of New Your State ? What kind of percentage should i expect? Please advise.

    hope to hear from you,

    Thomas Campagna

  290. I am kind of hapy to have come acros this words of advice,for a long time I have been robed off my ideas in South Africa, I believe I was pluged wit somekind of super devise which links my ideas to the people who ar stealin my ideas, I wouldnt like to think deep without taking the devise out of my system because other people I dont know ar wit it mornitor and controler, please I need help here,what can I do and how would I know who is eating my royalties since 2007 til now? I would like to know the people involved in stealing my ideas, I only found out two months back that am devised. thanks for lyten up my comfusion.

  291. I’ve an idea with a USA licensing company now. I am Uk based. It’s fully patented in uk and pending in USA. They seem to be moving too slow. It’s a safety item legally required on all European roads and with trucks in the USA. Massive appeal.

    Can you help speed it up. ?

  292. I have a great little fashion accessory idea I have sold a lot of them but I want the world to see it I want to sell my idea I don’t want to make it my self please show me the way to go I am 67 years and I do not have any money show me what to do.

  293. Just stumbled on this article. Is this advice still valid. Is there anything new in 2016 in how people can rent ideas? What if it’s a food product, and not a mechanical or toy type product? (PS Where were you in 2003 when I came up with a billion dollar idea for the car industry, but had no idea what to do)

  294. How long does a licensing contract generally last for?

    If a licensing contract with a company comes to term, can I license it to another company after that?

    What type of attorney will I need to draw up the contract and generally how much does that cost?

  295. I have a idea that will make people who smoke(anything) more comfortable therefore smoking more and being more productive.