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Jul 15

I have been asked by many if I am excited about the new satellite Patent Office opening in Denver.  Yes, but not for the reason many would expect.

Opening satellite offices in cities around the country won’t really change the process.  It will still cost the same and take the same amount of time.  The fact that you can go to the office maybe fun but I am not sure that it really makes a difference to any inventor getting ready to file.  You can access the uspto database from your home computer and not have to fight the traffic or pay for parking.  Doing your own patent work is like doing your own brain surgery: by the time you realize you have made a mistake, it is too late to fix it.  As a licensing agent, I cannot work with an inventor who did his/her own patent.

However, what does make me excited and where I see the new satellite office having a positive influence is raising the awareness of the importance of filing for intellectual property by inventors.  It is simple: no patent–no negotiations.  An inventor’s ability to license or stop someone from copying is only as good as the intellectual property.  Some people tell inventors just make the product and be “first to market”.  Being “first to market” is important but only once you have decided if you are infringing on prior art or if you know you CAN’T file a patent.

Most inventors want to get to the point where they can have someone else make their product, sell it and send them a check.  It is called licensing and you can only do it if you have a patent.

I am excited about the new Satellite Patent Office in Denver.   If you have any questions, please email me or give me a call.

Rita

303-910-8889

Jun 17

I am frequently asked about crowdfunding as a way to finance a new product. There is no way that I can discuss all of the things you need to know about running a Crowdfunding Campaign. However, I have two critical issues that need to be addressed first:

  1. There is NO free money: A good campaign will cost money to launch and money to complete.
  2. Crowdfunding is really HARD: Running a good campaign is a fulltime job for the time leading up to the campaign, the duration of the campaign and the follow up after the campaign.

Now, if you can keep those two things always at the forefront of your planning, then “YES”. Crowdfunding does have the potential to be a real game changer in the world of financing a project.

There are two main types of crowdfunding: perks based and equity based. Both have different legal and financial obligations. Make sure you take the time to understand the benefits and obligations.

The best way to use Crowdfunding is as a presale tool for assessing the consumer interest in your product. Setting up a good Crowdfunding campaign takes several months. Take the time to learn the skillset required. You can join (it’s free) Colorado Crowdfunding Meetup to access all of the information you need to launch a good campaign.

Link to Colorado Crowdfunding:   http://www.meetup.com/Colorado-Crowdfunding/

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Rita

303-910-8889

Nov 13

I have noticed over the last few months a local organization encouraging inventors to do their own patent searching rather than having a professional search done.  This group has also implied that they can teach you in a few hours how to do your own searching by going down to the local library and using their computers.  This is incredibly irresponsible on their part but then they have nothing to lose and you do. Let me explain.

  1. Before you spend time and money on a prototype, you should do as much looking around as you can.  However, most inventors don’t really want to find anything; so they tend to search with blinders on.  Take off the blinders.
  2. Once you have done your searching, it is time to build your own version of a prototype if you can.  This is something that should be able to be accomplished at a minimal cost.  If you can’t do your own prototype, then the search comes first.
  3. The first money you should spend should be on a PROFESSIONAL patent search.  A good search is only $500.  Honestly, if you can’t put $500 into the project, you probably shouldn’t be doing this at all.  This search will include a U.S. classification search, NOT a keyword search.  It should also include an international search and a product search.
  4. A professional patent search is the MOST important money you will spend.  All of the business decisions you will make will be based off the search.
  5. A good search done by a professional takes many hours.  Reading the claims is like reading a foreign language.  Most inventors have a day job and learning how to do this and then betting your future on it, is just bad planning.  Your time is better spent doing what you do well and hiring someone to do what they do well.
  6. A good attorney and engineer will ask you for the results of your patent search and they’re NOT talking about the one you did yourself.

If you are going to put your financial future into this basket, why in the world would you take shortcuts?  Don’t spend a dime before it’s time, but when it’s time—step up.

If you have any questions about where to go for a Professional Patent Search, pleaase contact me at Rita@InventorLady.com

Mar 30

Mar 12

Recently I saw that a local inventor group was suggesting that they could teach you to do your own patent search and that somehow this would be enough to base your financial future on.

While I agree that learning to search and building your own version of a prototype, if you can, is a good exercise for every inventor, I believe that you will reach a point when you do need a professional to take another look. Why?

1. Most inventors see their inventions too narrowly.
2. There is a time value for your time. It takes days to do a good search. Most inventors have a day job. For the dollars spent on the search, your time is more valuable.
3. All of the business decisions you will make are based on what comes back in the search report. Because of that, you need a good professional search.
4. A good search includes a USPTO search, international search, and a product search. A good USPTO search is done by classification not by keywords. Most inventors only do a keyword search.
5. If paying $500 for a search makes you “cranky”, you probably don’t have the resources to be a successful inventor.
6. You have to have the international search done as part of a comprehensive search because if your invention has been done anywhere in the world at any time in history, you will not be granted a U.S. patent. It doesn’t matter if you are planning to sell internationally or not.

Do as much as you can yourself. But when you eventually get sick of searching (as you undoubtedly will), it’s time to have a professional take another look.

Feb 4

I use attorneys all the time.  I work with attorneys and I am even married to an attorney.  However, while I believe you will definitely need to use an attorney from time to time, I want you to keep some parameters in mind.

1.  Just like there are good car mechanics and bad mechanics, there are good attorneys and bad attorneys.  Check around when you are considering hiring one; don’t just go to the first one who pops up online.

2.  Remember that attorneys specialize in specific practices.   You don’t ask an OB/GYN to do brain surgery so don’t ask a transactional attorney to do your patent.

3.  Once you decide who to use, remember that your attorney is “work for hire” not your business partner.  YOU negotiate the “guts” of the deal NOT your attorney.   Your attorney gets it down on paper.

4.  A “good” deal is one that is balanced.   I recently had a client use an attorney I had encountered with another client.  The attorney told the client that she was very conservative in her suggestions when negotiating an agreement.  This is not unusual.  Attorneys generally start with an agreement heavily tipped to the client’s favor.  However, the other side is also starting with an agreement tipped heavily in their favor.  Translated—that means billable time to you.  By the time the other party pushes back and you finally get to a “balanced agreement”, you have hours of additional billable time.  Your attorney makes his/her money on you whether you succeed or not.  Consequently, YOU have to see the balance if you want a deal.  It is your attorney’s job to inform you of the issues and dangers.  It is your job to make the business decisions.

I will discuss “balance” in another blog.

Jan 1

January 1st is when most of us try to start our recently proclaimed New Year’s resolutions.  For inventors, getting started right away is important.  No matter your progress (or lack of progress) last year, take a few minutes to decide what you want to accomplish this year.

Once you decide what you want to get done, you can determine a timeline and deadlines for the various steps you need to take.  One way to help set timeframes is to find a professional tradeshow.  The tradeshow becomes the deadline.  Now decide that you need to get done to attend the national level tradeshow and start filling in your timeline.

If you are just getting started, set aside some time every week to work on your invention.  Do as much of your own searching as you can.  Then do your best to build your version of a prototype.  We have seen great prototypes out of duct tape, cardboard, pipe cleaners and legos.   If you can’t build your own prototype, don’t worry about it yet.  DON’T hire and engineer to do drawings yet.  That time will come.

The first thing you spend money on is a professional search.  Use SearchQuest Patents (www.searchquestpatents.com ) for your search.  It is the only search company we know of that includes the international search for a flat rate.    I have other posts that discuss patent searches that you can read.  The search is the most important step you will take.

You will be surprised how easy it is to put off working on your invention.  Before you know it, we will be celebrating another New Year.  Make sure you can look back at 2013 with accomplishments that make a difference.

Dec 31

It’s hard as an inventor not to have dreams of great success.  Most inventors have moments of imaginary grandeur.  I have said this before and will remind you again, there is nothing easy about inventing and there are no guarantees.  One of the hardest things I have to do is help an inventor understand “time”.  It takes time to get a product to market and more time to get the ink dry on a licensing deal and then more time to get the product to the store shelves.

I recently had a client very disappointed that he didn’t have a “deal” done in a matter of months.  He had no product manufactured to sell which creates a huge hurdle.  It’s not impossible to get a deal, but it does take longer.

I always make sure that I explain the possible timeframes and obstacles for various products.  Since as a licensing agent, I don’t get paid until the inventor gets paid, I have to be very aware of timeframes.  The hardest part is when the inventor “forgets” what we discussed in the beginning and goes back to believing in unreachable goals.

Bottomline:  Timeframes are hard to pinpoint.  Don’t be unrealistic.  The more you do for your product, the easier it is to license.   The less you are able to do, the more challenging it is to get a deal and it takes MORE time.

Aug 6

On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed into law a provision making “crowdfunding” legally available as a means of raising capital for startup companies. The actual legislation (as well as the regulations likely to emerge from the subsequent SEC regulatory review process) will have a substantial and immediate impact on the way capital is raised for, in particular, very small, less ambitious startup businesses. Colorado Crowdfunding Meetups will focus on the who, what, where, when and how of securing funding using this new, innovative approach to get you the money you need to start or grow your business.

Let’s gather together in a meeting forum format and see if, together, we can’t more successfully navigate this new space and help ourselves and others benefit from these groundbreaking developments.

To let us know you’d like to join us, please respond by rsvping here -> RSVP

Jul 9
I know that I have talked about this before but it is time to do a reminder about what is realistic in this economy.

I recently “fired” a client because he had expectations that were beyond reasonable.We had a firm licensing offer: a royalty offer of 5% for the life of the patent.  Unfortunately, the client believed that he should have been offered a $2.5 million buyout.  There was no way that we were going to reach any compromise.

Faulty reasoning:

  1. Not every home in America is going to want one.  Unless you invented the toilet, not EVERY home is going to have one of anything.
  2. A product with issued IP is not a “company” with a book of business.
  3. Expecting to be paid up front for your sweat equity is a thing of the past.
  4. The invention is good but not a game changer for the industry.

A licensing agreement is a way that you partner with the company that is going to manufacture, market and sell for you.  In essence, you are sharing the risk with them.  While a buyout does happen on rare occasions, you have to be objective about your invention and your expectations.

Here are some points to help determine royalty percentages:

  1. What market share do you have todate?  This does NOT mean how much you fantasize about getting in the future.  It means how many have you actually sold.
  2. How strong is your intellectual property?
  3. Is your invention a “game changer” for the industry?
  4. Can you cross into multiple industries?

A good licensing agreement is 5% to 7% (sometimes 10%) for the life of the patent.  If you are offered less than 3%, you should figure out why.  There are many companies out there that will charge you up front and pay a very low percentage.

There is a balance between being too greedy and being too desperate.  Get help and ask questions.

Good Luck.

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