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Sep 6

I recently had to deal with a (once wonderful) client who wanted to re-negotiate my licensing agreement just before we were ready to sign the agreement with a licensing company.  Not a good thing to have happen at the eleventh hour of negotiations.

A couple of things to keep in mind if you are considering using a licensing agent:

1.     If you enter an arrangement with an agent because he/she is tough and will really look out for your interest, doesn’t it make sense that the agent will be tough when negotiating his/her own agreement with you?

2.     If you try to cheat your agent at the last minute, do you really think the new company that is considering licensing your product is going to trust you?  A good agent isn’t going to tell the licensee what you have done;  he/she doesn’t need to say a thing.  Licensing agents and licensees frequently have ongoing working relationships, so when the agent suddenly is not part of the conversation any longer, the licensee connects the dots.  Your impulse to stiff your licensing agent to save a couple of bucks is just bad business; it will certainly lead to fall-out with your agent and, quite possibly, tank the deal and your reputation.

I work hard for my clients and I don’t get paid until they get paid.  It isn’t unusual to spend two or more years getting a deal done.  When you have an agreement with a licensing agent and he or she has already done the heavily-lifiting for you (whether it’s a mere introduction to the right licensee or crossing the “I’s” and dotting the “T’s” on the definitive licensing agreement), trying to re-negotiate your deal with your agent at the last minute, is very bad karma indeed.

Sep 6

Recently, I met with an inventor who, while passionate about his invention, absolutely did not want to hear what he didn’t want to hear:  I call it the “do not want to know what I don’t want to know” disease.   You see it’s a lot like a serious disease because in the end if you have it and don’t do anything to cure it, it could kill your invention.  Unfortunately, in my travels I’ve encountered more than just one would-be inventor suffering from it.

In the case of this particular individual, every time I tried to tell him “an inconvenient truth” about inventing, his comeback was the same, “I have done all my research and I know this will take off”.

We started out discussing the fact that he’s hell-bent on filing his own provisional patent application and, as you might imagine, the meeting went quickly downhill after that.  As most of my regular readers know, you should never attempt to file your own applications (patent, trademark or copyright) to protect intellectual property.  It is like doing your own brain surgery: once you figure out you what you did wrong, it is too late to fix it.

Next, I learned that he did his own drawings and prototype.  We always tell inventors to do your own version of a prototype.  You learn so much from getting it out of your head and into something 3-deminsional.  However, unless you are a design engineer with experience, you shouldn’t be doing the final drawings or the final prototype.

Next, he told me that he refused to get any market testing done on the invention.  He claimed that he didn’t need any.  Huge mistake.  He has no idea if anyone would even use it, let alone pay for it.

The worst part was when we finally got down to why he had called me in the first place (since he obviously had done everything “right”),  he really expected me to just give him some money.  When I explained that I don’t just give money away and neither does anyone else, he said “well this is your last chance to be part of my venture”.  I chuckled to myself over his simple and uninformed arrogance.

So what about this would-be inventor and his “million dollar” invention?  Well, at this point, it’s clear that he has gone about the entire process in an entirely wrong-headed way.  He will fail because:

1.     He didn’t have a professional search done.

2.     He did his own patent filing.

3.     He did his own drawings and final prototype.

4.     He had no market testing done to see if anyone would pay for, or even use, the product.

5.     He assumed that the world would beat a path to his door.  He assumed that anyone could easily see the value of so great an invention and that he would easily be able to secure the financing necessary to develop, manufacture and roll-out the product.

Each of these omissions in and of itself constitutes a serious inventing mistake; collectively, they can be, and usually are, fatal.  This particular inventor had no interest in learning; simply put, “he didn’t want to know what he didn’t know”.  And, in the end, it’s a virtual certainty that no one will give him money.  He hasn’t done his due diligence and, consequently,  no company will license his invention.

Sep 6

Hi everyone, sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote.  Unfortunately, we had a personal tragedy occur among our inventing group here in Colorado this past May and it’s taken all of our energy and talent to keep things moving along without letting any of the balls drop to the ground.

You see, in May, without any warning whatsoever, Anne Feiler, my dedicated assistant and very good friend, suddenly passed away.  In at least one sense, it seemed to me that writing the next blog entry would be some sort of admission (to myself) that she was really gone.  So, of course, the last thing I wanted to do was to write that next blog.

However, the really amazing thing was, that at her funeral, virtually the entire local inventing community turned out to say goodbye.  In fact, one of my most accomplished serial inventors was beside himself with grief, and inconsolable.  It was a very touching tribute to Anne and it reminded me  again of the important work we do here, and of the difference we make in the lives of so many inventors  …. RIP,  Anne, dear friend, RIP ….