Originally Posted by rmcphearson
1] First and foremost, as an inventor DO NOT offer for display or sale an item you intend to patent. You start a statutory bar period of one year to file for patent protection.
2] File a PROVISIONAL patent... This IS NOT a patent in the scene of a enforceable patent, like commonly thought (those are called NON-provisional patents). A provisional patent allows the use of "patent pending" and secures your place in line with the American "First-to-file" system. These are relatively inexpensive and can be completed by you.
3] You probably qualify for "small entity" status. This means reduced fees from the USPTO. These fees are separate from what an Agent or Attorney will charge.
4] ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have whom ever you show or discuss your idea with sign an NDA!!!!!!! This will protect you in the long run, and yes even your wife/girlfriend/cousin/aunt/uncle/mom/dad/boyfriend/husband needs to sign one if you discuss it with them!
I'm not an attorney nor an agent, but am studying to sit for the patent bar this fall...
Just my $0.02
"How should I approch these vendors?" Back up with your pants down!
I dealt with a national golf supplier back in the 80's, I designed and built Ball Pickers and Washers. It was a year and a half lesson on how to get screwed and how to work a year and a half and break even, and not make one dime in profit!
I designed and built one machine that worked perfectly and had some probably patentable features. It took 30 man hours to building it. The POS that I was dealing with demanded 100% mark up and to produce the machine with his numbers I would not have even made minimum wage!
I tried to market the machine myself and found that the golf industry is the most arrogant, stick up their ass group of people that I have ever met before or since!
If it would cost $300 to mass produce and could only sell for $600 to what is essentially a very limited client base, I don't think you would have much to worry about. There probably isn't enough market or margin in it to make a ripoff worthwhile. The marketing costs alone would probably eat up a pirate's margin.
You however might be in a good position to capitalize on it. You could guerrilla market it to your peers. Another option might be to sell plans for it and/or identify the one or two critical but difficult to make components and get a run made of those and sell them with the plans.
Bob, I'm going to give that some consideration. Some of the components can be purchased from OTC (that's what I did). The largest component can easily be made locally from one of a few common sizes of angle iron. There are in fact a few critical components that I may get a run of. I need to get some quotes and go from there.
Originally Posted by rowbare
And thanks to everyone for the help.
Another recommendation on the book "Patent it yourself" it won't cost you much money, I bought it once and read it when I thought I had a good idea, unfortunately I wasn't the first to come up with it. I since moved on so never patented it but the book is a great education if nothing else from a real patent attorney who writes in English. If you do it yourself the patent may not cost more than the filing fees.
In addition to reading the book go to Google's patent search tool and see what comes up. You may find your idea sitting right there. One good way to look for your idea is when you see referenced patents click them and see where they take you. The sucky part of this process is you are looking for something you don't want to find and hope you don't ever find, so how do you know when to stop?
Lastly the idea of searching for investment money once you have a patent at a golf course is a fantastic idea. I had a lot of friends who got liberal arts majors in college who went to work at wealthy golf courses just for the connections they would make. I know a few people who got jobs based off of golf course connections. I don't know the course you work at but some courses $10K may be a yearly membership fee.
But what ever you do read the patent book before you go much further. He will give you a very good education. Far better legal advice than this site is likely to give you unless we have a real patent lawyer out there, if nothing else it is handy to have in your head if you do hire a lawyer or even if you wait till the next idea. The author of this book does a great job and will even talk you out of getting a patent if the conditions aren't right for you.
Roland, this has been mentioned in another thread but can't off-hand remember which one. Getting an idea is the easy part. Manufacturing and especially selling it is the hard part.
Originally Posted by rmcphearson
I have an idea for something that would make me a multi millionaire if I could find someone that could sell it. In fact it would be sold worldwide through supermarket type shops. I've written the patent for this particular idea (have done this more than once with other things) but haven't submitted it to the patent office. I simply don't know how to get in touch with those that would be my distributors.
From the start I know I'd have to be up and running as, patent or no patent, it would soon be copied.
This isn't what you want to hear but I doubt if you'll find anyone willing to invest if you aren't willing to do so yourslf. The guy with the idea but no money will always lose to the guy with money but no idea.
The rich get richer and the poor poorer.
$300 to $600 is not enough margin. That's your first problem. The second problem is that you don't have any money and you can't enforce a patent.
If you are serious- figure out how to get the margin to about double that percentage first, then prepare to innovate faster then your competitors can copy stuff, hit it hard and fast so you are the tested, well known original. Get into the distributors first so that when the competitors come knocking, the distributors are already happy with your product AND the margins you offer... The competitor will almost always try to be cheaper, so the distributors won't want to carry it anyways- they'll make less money... Provide good service and keep your customers / distributors happy so they have no reason to leave the easy, comfy, sure deal they have going with you.
Get ready for more expenses then you could have ever imagined to bleed you- that's another reason why you need good margins, especially if there isn't a ton of volume.
If you figure that a small shop is going to want 10-15% off, a big shop 15-25% off, and a major distributor 30-40% off- your margin on the above #'s is GONE before you have even gotten out of the gate. You need to double your money on your deepest accounts unless you can sell a HUGE amount of these widgets.
I don't claim to knpw very much at all about the patent world, but I did hear from a few entrepenuers that, as was mentioned above, innovate faster than the competion. You presumablly have have been doing research on your invention for some time, which gives you a nice head start. All time you spent they will have to make up jus getting to where are. Second other potential compettitors are going to copy your device if it sells like hotcakes (never understood that,? didn't reallise there was such a market flap jacks.) they will change some miniscule thing on the device to get around the patent.
So to combat this their advise was:
1) prevent espionage at all costs
2) get all your ducks in row queitly (no quacking)
3) when all is set hit the sales HARD and FAST, basically somother consumers with your name and product
In this manner you stand a good chance of monopolizing the nichce before the party crashers even know the keg is empty, with a little luck people will associate the name you have chosen with the original and best device which I hope is yours.
Take Kleenex for example people rarley refer to it as fascial tissue, kleenex beacame a house hold name.
As I said I ain't no patent expert at all just gleaned the above info from listening to people and attorneys who have had a succcessful product, brought to market and a killing before the comp. realizedit was even out there.
Hope some of my info is correct here and will benefit you, Just be carefull, keep your cards close, know friend well and your potential adversaries even better.
Best of luck, Doug
I think you are looking at the problem the wrong way. As others have said, you have to sell it and make money. You have got 2 years at the very most before your design will be copied and marketed, patent or no patent, registered design or not, proprietary manufacturing trick or not.
Since your product WILL be copied, the question becomes will the copier make enough money to be worthwhile suing? Can they be pursued? Can you make money out of it? If the answer is no, don't bother patenting it. If the answer is yes, cut a deal with a lawyer to patent now and share in the booty later.
Last edited by technocrat; 07-18-2012 at 05:56 AM.
BUY A DOCUMENT SHREDDER!
And use it.
Compartmentalize the knowledge.
When a shop runs your parts, insist they curtain off the production area, and allow NO VISITOR to see what is going on. (okay, that sounds a bit paranoid, perhaps keep this in reserve, and use it to weed out a vendor you no longer care to employ)
Have everyone sign confidentiality agreements.
Don't brag to the delivery people.
Don't brag to FreightQuote.com
Don't brag, not even at the dinner table, or around donuts and coffee at church.
Originally Posted by S_W_Bausch
AND require NDA's for anyone you do discuss it with. This is part of the paper trail to show that your intellectual property is not in the public domain.
edit: S_W_Bauch already said that and I quoted it. I must need new glasses!
Last edited by technocrat; 07-18-2012 at 08:52 AM.
Reason: already said
I have patented, marketed and sold several different items. In some cases the patent was worth it and others not cost effective. For marketing my items I have had the advantage of being able to sell to an existing customer base who were purchasing from my wholesale company. If you do not have this marketing it will be very costly and take a lot of your time to develop a customer base. Depending on volume this might not be cost effective with only one item. My recomendation would be to get a provisional patent. Then market your idea/product to a company in your industry that is already selling the customer you are trying to reach. For example manufacture or national distributor. If you really do have a better mouse trap with patent protection you should find this easy. You could either sell the idea outright and or get a royality for units sold. Who ever you partner with could provide funding for regular patent as part of the deal.
You could also get some type of non-disclosure agreement drafted and use that for protection while looking for suitable willing partner.
The reason this post caught my attention is that I rent part om building to a large golf course equipment manufacture. They make ball washers, benches and such. If you product is on grounds equipment side not sure if they would be a good choice or not. If you have interest I could put you in contact with general manager or owner.
Thanks for your help. And thanks for the offer but ball washers and benches etc. are a different side of the industry. The companies I am eyeing are Precision and R&R. They have their own CNCs (at least R&R does I know) , make tools and components and already have catalogs in every golf maintenance shop in the world.
Originally Posted by ORAGRAG
It's funny. I invented this devise to make my life easier and now...
Simplify for manufacturing and keep an eagle eye on production costs.
Own the means of production
Price aggressively so that no one will bother to compete with you
Leave room for retailers
internet marketing is great, do it, but also use old fashioned magazines
I have been working in the golf course industry for the past 6 years, both of my parents for 20+. It is a tough industry, not much inovation that I have seen for as long as I have been involved. I am a mechanic at a local course and have been turning wrenches at that course and helped out at a few others.
Best of luck with whatever your invention is, I don't know what task you have helped make easier, but I can think of lots of places for improvement. Its too bad most of the tools I have seen invented are very gimicky.
Oh, I don't know if that's a bad thing.
Its too bad most of the tools I have seen invented are very gimicky
Right off the bat, I am thinking of Leatherman multi-tools. I would rather put a crescent wrench in one sock, a couple of screwdrivers in the other sock, a diagonal cutter in one pocket, and slip-joint pliers in the other.
“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
But I don't count, only customers count. So many retailers and manufacturers passed on the Leatherman opportunity. Cabelas gave Leatherman a chance. The rest is history.
And what exactly is a gimmick? I am adequately aged to recall the J.C. Whitney catalog having those "gimicky" spark plugs with 360 degree firing. Fast forward 30 years, and BOSCH makes them, as OEM for many autos.
The Whitney catalog also had "multi-spark" ignitions, and I do believe that concept is now an OEM tactic.
The first several generations of personal computers were essentially useless, but they were an effective communication of proof of concept, they had customers, and they were the catalysts for many DIY dreamers to think "if it only could....".
And how many aerospace and communications engineers were inspired by Star Trek?
There's a story about Steve Jobs telling a reporter "I'll give you 15 minutes, bring a timer". But Mr. Jobs got all visionary on her, and the timer was ignored. He practically laid out the next two decades of his vision, before he calmed down.
There are lots of gimicks that have worked out... but then there are a lot of gimicks that just don't, and most of the tools I have tried out that were supposed to be great and change the industry just didn't.
For the record, Bosch was making multiple electrode spark plugs in the early 30s. They even had magazine ads for them.
Originally Posted by S_W_Bausch
Still, you bring up strong points.
Hahaha... multiple prong electrodes are kinda BS, you only can have a single spark at a time anyways, but that is neither here nor there.
Without having read every word of every post, I think maybe one thing hasn't been mentioned:
Are you going to build it or are you going to sell the idea?
While a patent is only as good as the budget to defend it, in my experience a company may pay very little for an idea not patented, or at least protected by preliminary filings etc. The scale of pay is:
Low for just and idea
Medium low for an idea and a good working prototype with the bugs worked out
Higher for a unique idea protected by patents or patent applications (and the prototype etc.)
Highest for a patent protected product and a market (already selling them with proven demand)
There is a lot of extra work in that last one, but extra rewards due to much reduced risk on the part of the buyer. For relatively simple products the development cost is small compared to the marketing cost of promoting a new product.
There is an alternative approach that can sometimes work: offer to come to work for the company with your idea. You get a job and a pocket book to develop the product, if you are good at it you may be running a large division of that company in the future.