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Many books for inventors are oriented towards the novelty/toy markets. I have found my own experience of licensing manufacturers quite different (actually easier) than most of the toy inventors' books describe. Docie's first invention was one born out of near mishap and had true safety value. He considered his first patent weak due to an overcrowded field of competitors, which makes it an even better illustration of how to proceed with an invention. But he knew it was a good idea from the start, because it was conceived from a real-life situation. His battle was differentiating his design from the many similar products already on the market. I believe that this is the #1 issue with most new inventions - closing in on 7 million patents, it's a very crowded field. Nevertheless, for an inventor that's part of the game.
My feeling is that if you have something that you KNOW has value, and you've done a thorough patent search and have a good understanding of the prior art, you should be able to justify the expense of a patent application. Then you can approach your potential manufacturers from a position of confidence. All this dancing around with non-disclosure agreements, trying to decide whether your idea is worth anything or not, seems to be putting the cart before the horse.
It might take a little patient educating on your part, but if you have something useful, someone will eventually recognize the fact and be anxious to work with you. Select and research the companies you'd like to work with, then carefully court them. Be persistent without being a nuisance. Just remember it's a lot of work for a company to add a new product to their line. You have to appreciate how big a decision it is for them to work with you - but they will!
Docie also runs a bona fide invention promotion company, as opposed to all the bogus invention submission companies out there. Remember they're like stockbrokers - they get paid regardless of results, which are usually negligible. Docie's background, interest and reputation ensure an honest and knowledgeable effort, and preclude any of the funny business that is inherent in the other outfits. The essential idea of an invention promotion company is quite valid, which unfortunately gives the bogus outfits their impetus.
Good luck with your idea!
Book review by Bill Bazik, Inventors Connection of Greater Cleveland
If you have developed your invention to the stage where it is "proven to be functional and is sound from an engineering standpoint", how do you license a company to manufacture and market it? This book may provide you with the information needed for you to license your invention.
The author points out that while every case is unique, generally speaking, licensing an invention is an easier route to go than outright sale or attempting to manufacture your product yourself.
He explains how your "know how" may be an important ingredient in your licensing deal. In fact, you may make more money from consulting fees than from the patent itself.
Docie stresses the importance of using common sense and that communicating effectively is vital to your success. He points out there is a vast amount of information out there that can be had -- and often at very low cost.
Emphasis is placed on the value of locating the key people in the industry that would use your invention and of finding "champions" within the companies who will support your efforts to license your invention. Each industry has its own system of distribution. You can and must determine how your invention fits into the scheme of distribution. Understanding how distributors, buyers and manufacturer agents function in your invention's industry is critical to your progress. Also, understanding how the needs of catalog or mail-order markets differ from retail channels can be a key bit of knowledge.
Attending trade shows can yield important information as to who the key decision makers are at various companies. Docie gives tips as to how attending these trade shows can be done on a surprisingly low budget.
Once your have determined possible licensees, which are the ones to contact? He gives an 8-point check list for selecting potential licensees and a list of 7 cautions to guide you in your first conversations with the key decision makers. This is followed by a list of 26 questions regarding market information (such as how a company has worked with outside inventors), what their manufacturing capabilities are and company background questions. He cautions you must clearly explain your invention but at the same time not give away any trade secrets or confidential information.
The subject of confidentiality agreements is discussed from various standpoints including the author's view after over 20 years' of experience. A disclosure agreement form that has served him well is reproduced.
The book suggests ways to realistically calculate manufacturing costs and why "approaching the engineering department may be the kiss of death". The pros and cons of the new patent office system of provisional patent applications are given. An example of an actual submission letter used by Docie Marketing is reproduced. A sample of a non-exclusive license contract is also reproduced. Various licensing strategies, factors and how to negotiate licensing agreements are discussed. These include how to maintain licensees' quality standards and how to monitor their sales.
His chapter 7, Industry Survey of Invention Evaluation and Marketing Firms, is a must read for every inventor. The author does not pull any punches. He includes in the "rip-off" category some patent attorneys who fail to point out to their clients that their patent claims may be so weak as to make their patent commercially worthless. He lists 13 factors inventors should consider in selecting an evaluation service firm.
Three case histories give, in detail, examples of the chills, fevers and glories that can take place when you go down the road negotiating a license to your invention. For example, how should you deal with the shock of a patent office rejection of your application for a patent? How would you deal with 18 companies copying your item? The author found himself in exactly that situation and came up with a solution. How do you decide when or if your patience and persistence are stretched to the point of violating common sense?
The author suggests many inventors could learn a lot from television detective Columbo -- ask a lot of questions, listen and say no more than necessary.
The last chapter has 11 pages of up-to-date resources available to inventors.
Reading this book, or any book, will not make you a licensing expert, but it will alert you to many of the landmines out there. The book is down-to-earth and is based on the author's practical hands-on experience in the real world. The pretentious vocabulary some writers seem prone to is avoided.
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The plot touches on a stalker called The Watcher, something that every personality fears but what made this book so chilling was the fact that the reader, along with the stalked, had no clue as to what the stalker was thinking.
The reader is kept in suspense by not being allowed to view what is going on inside either the stalker's head or the vicitim's. While this is not the best mystery I have ever read, it certainly wins points for creativity.
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