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Lesson # 89 A Patent Does NOT = Marketability

rogerbrown's Avatargold

Have been getting a lot of discussion on this Excerpt from my Ebook “Common Sense Inventing” Thought it would be good to post here and see what you think and get your comments.

There seems to be a myth out there that all you need is a patent for the riches to come pouring in like a river. The next myth is that once your patent issues doors will open and companies will be begging you to let them produce your product. Nothing could be further from the truth. All a patent proves is that no one else has been granted your specific patent claims.
I need to correct myself; once your patent is approved you will be contacted by companies. There will be companies wanting to send you your approved patent on a plaque, coffee mug, mouse pad, t-shirt, etc, for a fee. Then another group of companies will want you to purchase their services to get your patented idea to market. No matter what your idea is some of these companies will claim that it WILL get to market. Have you noticed all of these companies are getting you to do what?…….spend more of your money?

In the real world a patent does not automatically mean you will get a licensing deal or have success manufacturing it yourself and make millions. Less than 3% of patented inventions make it to market, so your chances are high you will be in that 97%. The way to minimize your chance of failure is through proper research prior to attempting to get a patent. You may even determine that you don’t need a patent due to the size of your market or the length of time your product will be on the market.
An example would be if your product dealt with a certain event such as the 2016 Olympics. Once the 2016 Olympics are done for that time period would there still be the same high demand you had prior to or during the event? The answer is…. No. So, why spend thousands on a patent that will only be useful for a year or two? The patent you are ready to spend thousands on may not even be approved before the event is over.

You also have to consider that even though your idea is patentable is it an idea that the general public would purchase in mass. Let’s say you have developed a device that can change the texture of a toilet seat from slick to rough with the touch of a remote. While this is a neat effect how many people are going to remove their current toilet seat to purchase yours? You can’t assume that if there are 100 million toilet seats in the U.S. all 100 million of them will purchase your product. If you make that assumption you will be sorely disappointed and stuck with a huge amount of inventory.

Now, let’s imagine you have a device that will fit any model car, is less than $20 to purchase and allows the consumer to get 100 MPG and they can install it themselves in a couple of minutes with basic tools. This would be worth the time and financial expense to get it patented. You could also assume that the percentage of customers to buy your product would be higher due to the return on their investment for the consumer. You are saving them money on a reoccurring weekly expense which would prompt their purchase.

Many Inventors allow their emotions to get involved when they come up with their potential million ideas and forget that inventing is just like any other business. You need to make sound choices based on fact, not fantasy. Just because you want a product to sell does not make it happen. It has to be something the public wants, solves a problem, saves them time, makes something that is normally labor intensive easy, is enjoyable to the consumer or they have the perceived notion that it is something they have to have because everyone else has one. The more of these requirements you can match up the higher your chances of it being a success.

Stop throwing your hard earned money away. Do as much research as possible first and look at your idea as a consumer, not the Inventor before proceeding. Make sure you understand your target market, know your competitors product and know why yours is better. Because if your product isn’t better you are wasting your money, your time and need to stop before you even get started.

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let-them-fly's Avatar

Excellent post, and point, Roger!          

They'll always be a percentage, however, that fancy themselves beyond the pesky research and are already convinced of their success... to such, it would be easier to talk a dog into not wagging it's tail than to get them to seriously consider the consequences of their actions.      Impact with the brick wall is all that will slow them down, and even then it is someone else's fault.

We must take solace in the fact that most will consider closely their own course and correct it before it's too late.

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vitaminguy's Avatargold

And the end note on that is that EN is an outstanding resource for those who simply don't want to do the research.

For some people, spending $20 to let the EN folks worry about doing all the marketability and prior art research is well worth it. While I do all the necessary research for all of my "serious" submissions, I sometimes submit ideas on a lark, especially the fun ideas. At least two such submissions made it to G7. To me, that was $20 well spent, and it saved me hours and hours of tedious marketability and prior art research. But when I submit an idea without doing the proper research, I never complain or even feel bad when it goes red. In fact I'm delighted whenever they pass G4! 

Once again, thanks for posting such a great topic Roger! Salient points as always.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Frank, you are correct. Unfortunately no matter how many warning signs are given some are determined to drive off the cliff.

Rafael, I agree there are plenty of people that will not take the time to do the research and rather pay someone else to do it. But unlike yourself, many of them are the ones you see complaining the most when they get a Red X.

Rafael Avila
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Had a discussion with an inventor that is in a sad situation. He has tried for 19 years of his patents life to get a company interested in his idea. He finally got a company to show interest but he is dead in the water. The company said it would take at least 18 months to get to market and before then his patent will expire leaving them with no protection. So they are passing on it.

And the truth is if the company wanted they could wait for it to expire, make the product and leave him out of the equation. 

He sent me the information he had been sending to companies and I can see why they passed on it. He did not do a good job of getting across the benefits of the product. In my opinion he left out two key benefits that would have made companies look at it differently. 

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

I received an email from an Inventor that has a issued patent. She made a sell sheet that all she did was paste the abstract portion of her patent on the sell sheet page and her contact info, nothing else. Do you think this will catch the eye of the reviewer? Why Yes or why No.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Eduardo, That group sounds interesting. Can you post their name? If they decide your idea is worth patenting what do they charge for this help?

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