Short Tips for Independent Inventors, Series: 15 Tips
By Jeffrey Dobkin
1. You may not need a patent.
Don’t go for a patent quite so fast… A patent is $5,000 to $10,000! Wow! And keep this in mind: A patent does NOT protect you. That’s Right! A patent only gives you the right to protect yourself (meaning you can sue someone). BIG difference!
You do NOT need a patent to market or sell your product.
Consider a cheaper way – a special provisional patent: it offers no protection, but does establish your patent claims and date of invention. This provisional patent is good for 1 year, and costs only a few hundred dollars. If you feel you must get something, it’s simple enough to do yourself.
Simple fact of life: I recommend a patent to less than 2% of the inventors that have shown me their invention. Less than 2 people out of 100! For the more than 98%, in my opinion they either couldn’t get a patent, it wouldn’t make sense (they weren’t going to market or license their product), or the patent they would be able get would be so narrow in claims it would be worthless.
2. Don’t trust invention marketing companies.
Sadly, the industry is plagued by fraud. Fraud is a deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
The industry was so infiltrated by rip-off artists and fraud, a law was passed to try to prevent these criminals from preying on innocent – and enthusiastic – inventors.
They all start out the same way: they send you an Non-Disclosure Agreement – so you feel comfortable that they won’t steal your idea. Then they invite you to meet in person at their office, because: they can’t get any money out of you on the phone. Can they?
3. Don’t count on making money for 2 years.
Yes, it takes that long from when you are standing there holding a fairly well finished prototype in your hands to bringing a product to a marketplace and starting to sell it. You can shorten this time by having additional people work on it besides yourself, or by investing more money in it to make it happen quicker. But working out of your home, garage, or small office – everything takes way more time than you think it will.
4. The idea – the flashbulb going off, that Eureka moment – turns out…that is the EASY PART.
It’s the time you invest after that moment that creates success, and that’s the hard part. The long hours in development, the prototypes, the hits and misses. Sweat and toil, making the best possible product that can be made and all the while keeping an eye on costs. The research, pricing parts, analyzing competitors, finding markets. That’s the hard part.
5. Find people that can help.
There are companies (and people) that can definitely help inventors, depending on where you are in the invention process and what help you are looking for. It’s best to join a local inventors club – some are just awesome.
6. Here are just a couple of people I trust —
Jack lander, the Inventor Mentor (and all around good guy) wrote a book on financing your invention (How to Finance Your Invention or Great Idea; $19.95, ISBN 0935722246-7, JackL359@AOL.com, 203-264-1130) Jack is great with early stage inventors, and helping inventors along in the process. He’s very trustworthy, and a great guy.
Harvey Reese’s book, “How to License your Million Dollar Idea” is great reading, and also has the best contract I’ve ever read. I recommend reading this and using his contract (it’s printed in the book). I use this myself. Harvey will review your idea to see if he will represent you (The cost is about $150), but he doesn’t take on too many projects, including my own inventions (sigh…). But if he takes yours, you’re in. Nowadays he’s tough to get ahold of and may be retired – I don’t know, I can’t get ahold of him…
Read my own cult classic book, “How To Market a Product for Under $500!” The best book ever if you’re thinking about marketing a product yourself (not licensing). Available on Amazon and directly from us – 800-234-4332, or 610-642-1000. I usually answer this phone and am happy to field quick questions from inventors who have read my book.
I assist inventors who are in the later stages and have a product ready (or almost ready) to bring to market. I do some inventor consulting, but I’m expensive because most of my clients are corporate and don’t mind paying my higher rates. The first consulting phone call to me is always free, and I’m usually friendly – go ahead, call me and see: 610-642-1000.
7. Our own American Society of Inventors – we review products in person at our board of directors meetings and it’s FREE to area members…
After serving on the board of directors for 14 years, and serving as President for 4 years, Jeffrey Dobkin is now the President Emeritus of the American Society of Inventors, a 501c3 nonprofit that helps inventors free of charge.
Jeffrey Dobkin is a fun speaker and a specialist in direct response. Jeff is the senior writer at The Danielle Adams Publishing Company. His firm offers product development and counseling, marketing strategy, and marketing plans, along with creative creative services: writing and design of direct mail, letters, brochures and booklets, corporate collateral material; and website design content and article writing. He also writes press releases, and offers PR planning and campaign strategy. Jeffrey Dobkin has written 5 books on effective marketing methods. Call 610-642-1000 to order his books or for a free 20 minute consultation.