An inventRight graduate called me yesterday and had a pretty serious problem. I want to discuss it here. At the end of the day, whom can you really trust with your inventions? Can you trust your attorneys?
I’m not sure you can trust anybody.
Do I sound paranoid? Maybe. Many inventors are far, far too paranoid. You can’t let your fear cripple you. But there’s a big difference between being cautious and being afraid. For example, when you’re gathering information, when you’re doing your homework, never trust a single source. There is NO authoritative source – just opinions. I don’t care where you received the information. Talk to three or four industry experts, not one. Read several books – not one.
Be especially prudent with your attorney. Before filing a patent, they will conduct a prior art search to determine if your invention can be patented. Do your own research too! It’s inexpensive and productive. Of course we want to trust our attorneys to do a complete job. But what if they don’t’? Often times, third parties are hired to conduct prior art searches. If your invention already exists and has been patented, you NEED to know as soon as possible.
The inventRight grad that called me had invested several thousand dollars in her attorney. That attorney had hired an independent party to conduct the prior art search. After the search, they reassured her that her invention was new, and she began moving forward. Until she used the Internet to do some research herself – and very quickly discovered that her idea was not, in fact, new.
Yes, this is a true story, even though it seems bizarre. How could they have missed that information? She’s already spent thousands on the attorney. What about marketing costs? The cost of all the time she’s invested?
If I know one thing about licensing, it’s that you learn by doing. You can truly only rely on yourself. So do your absolute best to get the most complete, most varied information possible.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.