Congratulations, you are the 2,397,286,947th or 8th, I keep losing track, genius, independent inventor wannabe that has come up with the brilliant idea of avoiding actually having to WORK, or take any RISK, to make money from their invention idea by finding someone to license it. Certainly licensing contracts are signed all the time. But just as certainly they are only signed when there is a good BUSINESS case to be made for them. They are NOT signed for mere ideas.
Having ideas is easy. Actually everybody does it. When asked whether or not they've ever come up with an invention or invention idea in their lifetime about 1/3 of the U.S. population will say "yes." When asked if they've ever been doing something and figured out a better way to do it or how to modify a tool to do it better over 2/3 of the U.S. population will say "yes." But mere ideas are still worth the proverbial "dime a dozen" (even with inflation in my opinion).
What separates that two thirds of the population from "inventors" is not having ideas, it's making the decision to "professionally" be an inventor and taking action on that decision. In other words, to be someone who makes money, hopefully eventually as their sole source of income, from their invention ideas AND, and understand this well, AND THEIR OWN EFFORT AND EXPENSE TO COMMERCIALIZE THEM. Without the effort and expense, i.e., the action, it simply won't be possible to make a business case for a mere idea. Some, of course, will require minimal effort and expense but far more typical is that the "easy" ones take $2,000 to $10,000---and that isn't counting the inventor's labor.
Businesses spend billions of dollars annually on their own in-house staff that is PAID to have new product ideas. While some of those new product ideas are invention ideas more often they are not. But still they are ideas for which the business DOES NOT have to pay a royalty on top of their other development, production, marketing, and distribution expenses. And they literally often have hundreds of these ideas available from their in-house staff that they have not found the resources to develop and market. The ideas that do wind up on the store shelves have a better BUSINESS reason for being gotten to market than those that are left sit (or discarded entirely).
Also businesses know that if their in-house staff come up with and develop the idea into a product the business will OWN it with minimal risk of anyone challenging their rights to it. Sure, for inventions they often do patent searches and apply for patents to be sure they are not infringing someone else's ownership and to nail down their own ownership. But by taking such precautions they substantially cut their risk. When you call or write with a mere unresearched idea they know there is a risk THEY ARE ALREADY WORKING ON (OR LEAVING SIT FOR THE TIME BEING) that same idea or one very close to it. They also know THEY WILL HAVE TO SPEND THE MONEY TO BE SURE YOU AT LEAST HAVE THE POTENTIAL to own the rights to the "idea."
And here I should note a fundamental fact (for more see www.idearights.com): no one can actually own an idea. You can't patent, copyright, or trademark the idea. You have to go a step beyond that and create an embodiment that achieves the idea, create an expression that encompasses the idea, or use "in commerce" something symbolizing the idea as a product or service source identifier. Without that extra step, or at the very least the potential to accomplish that in such a way to adequately block most competition, your mere idea is nothing but a risk to them.
Successful licensees, and these are actually only at most about 15% of successful inventors, almost always will have taken much of the risk out of their idea by thoroughly researching potential patent rights to confirm both the rights' availability and probable strength. (The other 85% of successful inventors, in case you were wondering, are venturers, i.e., they find a way to get their inventions in production and on the market themselves.) Successful licensors will also often have determined whose product line (or lines) their invention best fits and be able to make a solid numeric business case for that fit.
Businesses are acutely aware that there are a small subset of pretend inventors who have figured out how to exploit the legal system, whether with patents or just with "idea theft" lawsuits, to extract "compensation" from companies that find it more cost effective to settle rather than fight to an expensive victory. Of course inventors who exploit that kind of theft-by-suit create a very bad reputation for other budding real inventors and may eventually encounter a fighter that extracts a heavy toll from them. If you approach a business with a mere idea businesses legitimately may fear you are one of these pretend inventors. Many larger firms have a strict policy that says you aren't even allowed in the door without a patent, ideas are not accepted.
Expect licensing to be hard work and you likely won't be disappointed. Expect it to be easy and free and you can pretty much count on everyone you seek assistance from turning you down. They know exactly how much you REALLY value that idea you want THEM to pay "millions" for or to invest substantial time and money in for (hopefully) your benefit. The effort you are willing to make and the money you are willing to invest clearly demonstrate the REAL value you place on your idea. They've probably seen dozens or hundreds of wannabe rich inventor licensors with ideas exactly worth the effort the inventor expended on them, nothing.
So what is the bottom line? DON'T ABUSE THE PEOPLE LINKED FROM THIS PAGE OR ITS RELATED PAGES (if any). Do do some serious homework first. Once that is done, approach licensees as a professional product developer and in a professional manner. Present them with a bona fide opportunity and, if they consider outside submissions, you won't be chased away like the wild eyed kook with an ancient or impractical mere idea that they just kicked out the door yesterday.
For now see the Licensing box on the Home page. I know of a bunch of companies seeking inventor but won't put them here until I have time to put the proper admonitions too.
Copyright © 2004 James E. White
All Rights Reserved