It was seen that the works of founders of States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover
but narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of the inventor, though of less pomp,
is felt everywhere and lasts forever.          - Francis Bacon Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature




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A CBS interview of IDEO founder David Kelley


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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

November 2010


“I don’t get no respect” – Rodney Dangerfield

Sound familiar?  Getting past the gatekeepers to someone who can license your invention can be a challenge.  Gus Bigos (product scout for Evergreen IP) explained why that is, and how a new-product development company (NPD) such as Evergreen IP, Big Idea Group, Edison Nation, Inventor Institute, inventRight, Pelham West, or The Carey Formula can ease your way.  (A list of other inventor-friendly resources is available.)

The problem
Most companies don't like to license an invention directly from an independent inventor.  Receiving disclosure of an invention (patented or unpatented) can harm a company’s efforts to patent its own similar inventions.  Licensing an invention untried by the market is riskier than buying a small company that has strong sales.  Optimal timing of a license agreement is hard to predict.  Coordinating expectations of a company and an independent inventor may require extensive negotiations and adjustments.  Legal work of licensing is expensive and time consuming.  As a result, no one in a company wants to be responsible for the licensing process, which thereby becomes indefinite, vague, and slow.  Licensing companies and inventors lose each other as productive partners in innovation.

The solution
An NPD adapts the independent inventor to the licensing company.  It selects a promising invention then submits it to licensing companies.  If no license results, it may decide to improve, patent, produce, and market the inventive product or method before trying again for a license.  The NPD benefits from payments it receives from the licensing company or inventor.  The inventor benefits from professional product development, credibility, and communication; from decreased risk in bringing a product to market; from no haggling; from transparency; from a quick decision on whether an NPD or licensing company will invest in the invention; and from a quick path to profit.  The licensing company benefits from a standard screening process, from no haggling, from absence of disclosures that might contaminate its intellectual property, from an expanded source of creativity, and from an opportunity to introduce revolutionary products into the market.

How it works
Submission of an invention
Inventors start the development process by evaluating their own inventions (patented or prototyped), which may be new products, new methods, or new uses of existing products.  Is the invention what both a company and a lot of customers would want?  Is the evidence for so thinking persuasive?  Is the invention a big improvement over what’s on the market now?  If the answers to those questions are encouraging, the inventor might opt to submit the invention to an NPD.

Screening
The inventor may think that everyone will want to buy any product that solves a problem.  The NPD knows better.  It refines the inventor’s reasoning by asking how many people have that problem, how many know they have that problem, and how many want to pay the inventor’s price to solve it.  The NPD predicts the answers to those questions by comparing the inventor’s invention to a model invention that the NPD thinks would sell well.  The degree of similarity between the two is calculated using a mathematical formula (e.g., the Merwyn Business Simulation [a specialized version of the Fourt-Woodlock system of decomposition sales forecasting] or InventionScore).  The formula may include variables that describe customer benefits, evidence of those benefits, and size of those benefits relative to the size of benefits provided by similar products already on the market.  If the degree of similarity is high, the NPD tries to turn the invention into innovation.

Development
The NDP tries to license the invention by persuading licensing companies that the invention has a market. Persuasion may require bringing the invention to market and showing that it yields high sales.  Bringing an invention to market typically costs the NPD about $250,000 in design, patenting, production, and marketing costs.  Of course, the NPD tries to recover its costs, and to make a profit, by keeping a portion of a licensing payment.

Example – Evergreen IP (EIP)
EIP, a United Inventors Association-certified patron, is interested in technologically simple products (such as a recyclable popup trash can) that have a large potential market.  It provides an inventor with transparent licensing and development processes, offering quick acceptance or rejection of an invention and a standard deal for accepted inventions.  In the standard licensing deal, EIP recovers its investment in the invention from the licensing payment and splits the remainder with the inventor: 65% EIP, 35% inventor.  The inventor pays no money upfront.

EIP is actively seeking inventions (natural cleaning compounds, agglomeration technologies, healthy foods, and disinfecting technologies) from independent inventors for Clorox.  EIP guarantees that it will get an invention to Clorox within 30 days of submission and will get Clorox’s decision on licensing within 60 days.  Clorox pays EIP to screen inventions using EIP’s Product Capitalist model (based on the Merwyn Business Simulation model).  This standard licensing deal has 3 levels, based on patent status of the invention.  The inventor gets at least $35,000 and 1% of net wholesale, and up to $750,000 and 3% of net wholesale.  Again, the inventor pays no money upfront.

Thank you, Mr. Bigos, for helping us understand the licensing process and for telling us about all the benefits that EIP offers inventors.

Patent Drawings by Richard McVicker

Some inventions patented by our members:

Bob Brand
3,179,907 Tuning system for television receivers
3,219,933 Television tuner switching system
3,241,072 Tuning control system
3,538,466 Television tuner cast housing with integrally cast transmission lines
4,503,740 Optical cutting edge locator for a cutting apparatus
4,503,896 Dog system for veneer slicer
4,601,317 Veneer slicing system
5,511,598 Veneer-slicer with remotely controllable blade angle adjustment
5,562,137 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,590,700 Vacuum flitch table with self-cleaning vacuum valve
5,678,619 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer from a tapered flitch
5,680,887 Veneer slicer with timing belt
5,694,995 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,701,938 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
5,819,828 Method and apparatus for preparing a flitch for cutting
5,868,187 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,395,843 Method and apparatus for retaining a flitch for cutting
7,552,750 Method and apparatus for cutting veneer sheets from a flitch

Rick Hanson
6,240,579 Unitary pedal control of brake and fifth wheel deployment via side and end articulation with additional unitary pedal control of height of patient support
6,253,397 Deployable siderails for a wheeled carriage
6,256,812 Wheeled carriage having auxiliary wheel spaced from center of gravity of wheeled base and cam apparatus controlling deployment of auxiliary wheel and deployable side rails for the wheeled carriage
6,264,006 Brake for castered wheels
6,507,964 Surgical table
D474,446 Sterilizable battery component

Bob Humbert
4,281,368 Keyhole illuminating apparatus

Ron Jackson
4,886,110 HVAC zone control system
4,943,039 Adjustable clamp
4,987,409 Level sensor and alarm
5,132,669 Level sensor with alarm
5,381,989 Adjustable spring clamp
5,944,098 Zone control for HVAC system
6,145,752 Temperature monitoring and control system
6,322,443 Duct supported booster fan
D347,596 Audible security alarm
D376,747 Door security device

Jerry McQuinn
D689,343 Universal Nutcracker

Richard McVicker
3,261,937 Three position snap switch utilizing interference blade means
3,319,477 Timer Escapement
3,332,704 Manually propelled treadmill vehicle
4,625,616 Thumb pick
6,309,076 Light barrier, screen or reflector
D240,237 Sculpture or the like
D356,653 Yard light
8389839 Thumb pick

Bill Pangburn
5,943,831 Device for Hauling Objects

Al Robbins

3,882,960 Ride quality control for surface effects craft
3,946,689 Air dynamo pressure regulation and modulation device for surface effect ships and air cushion vehicles
6,588,702 Lighter-than-air device having a flexible usable surface

Matt Thie
4,844,446 Multiple-compartment currency stacker-sorter
4,940,162 Rolled coin dispenser
7,298,280 Lighted fluid flow indication apparatus
7,617,826 Conserver

Richard Tucker
5,833,751 Powder coating booth having smooth internal surfaces
6,840,367 Material handling and manufacturing system and method
6,976,835 Manufacturing system and process
7,018,579 Manufacturing system and process

Don Walls
D707090 Torque key lever
RE36209 Door lock apparatus

Dave Zedonis
5,637,926 Battery powered electronic assembly for wheel attachment

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