The complaint I hear from inventors most inventors is, “I’ve got this great idea… but I don’t have any money.” Honestly, I hear it all the time. And sometimes I can’t help but feel a little exasperated. Bringing a product to the marketplace doesn’t have to be fiscally expensive. It definitely can be, if you rush to hire an attorney, file for patents, and design an intricate prototype. What most inventors don’t realize is that equally, if not much more effective, choices are available. If you choose to manufacture your invention yourself and sell it from your garage, it’s going to cost you a fortune! Even if you manufacture your product yourself and attempt to sell it to a major retailer, it’s going to cost you. But if you choose to license your product instead, inventing doesn’t have to be expensive.
But many inventors also wonder, “Do large companies really want my idea? Is it feasible that a corporate giant will listen to me, a small independent inventor?” The David and Goliath-like nature of the relationship overwhelms them. But open innovation is more popular than ever. Proctor and Gamble executive Jeff Weedman has been explicit. “We don’t care where good ideas come from, as long as they come to us,” he has been quoted as saying. Many recently popular P&G products weren’t developed from within the company; the Swiffer Wet Jet, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and Glad ForceFlex trash bags were all created outside of the company, for example. Today, P&G estimates that about half of its products were found using open innovation.
What does this mean for you? Companies have a viable interest in licensing your product if it means getting ahead. How do you begin the licensing process? By demonstrating the benefits of your idea. This can easily be achieved through a sales sheet, although other more creative forms (like making a video) can be successful as well. The cost of protecting your idea? As inexpensive as filing a Provisional Patent Application – a little over one hundred dollars for a year’s worth of protection. Educating yourself about the process can cost you as well, but so much information is now available for free over the Internet. These are some of the most fundamental steps of bringing your product to the marketplace.
Consider this information. Is the financial burden the real reason you’re not committing to bringing your idea to the marketplace?
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 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 listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.