The firm I work for receives about 25 calls a week from individuals with the next big idea in any given market category. We invite the few that we can qualify on the phone in for a meeting. During this meeting we walk them through the product development cycle, all the legal issues, testing issues, and every possible step that the product must go through to hit the shelves at, always seams to be the holy grail of the inventor, Wal-Mart. We find out what has been done, and what their ultimate goal is. Then when we give them the price estimate, they (after reclaiming their breath) say, “I thought it would only cost a couple hundred dollars, hell I did the hard part and came up with the idea”. Well for the most part that happens, but we have had a series of successful meetings, and launches of inventor products, trend seams to be they are the inventors who want to start their own business and sell to specialty markets.
Say, the inventor did go through with the product development with your company. How do u work it out, and what kind of roaylties will the inventor get if say their invention/product does make it to the shelves in a major retailer. Or what if their invention is sold to the specialty markets. How does the inventor make money off the sales, and does the Design consultancy make money off sales too?
We work it out so that the inventor owns the rights to the product. Normally that means that they start a business around the premise of selling their product. We design it, and use our manufacturing partners to produce it. The inventors company then handles the retail distribution. We only agree on a royalty if the inventor allows us to conduct an independent market study, sales validation, and final design validation research, and the results show that we will at the very minimum recoup the reduced fees. We do however require that our hard (external vendor/supplies) costs be covered by the design fees.
The amount that the inventor sells his product to retail is dependent on his/her decision, with input from our marketing team. We try to avoid inventors who simply want to license their ideas to companies. This is because these are the people looking to “get rich quick” and have no intentions or desires to invest the money and time it takes to correctly developed the product. Many simply want you to skip the design, engineering, and testing phases all together and give them a working prototype in less than a week for under $100. “Oh, Yeah and it better pass UL certification and not infringe on any patents, but I am not paying for the legal or testing fees either”
The problem here is that if your company sells itself by the “product development” moniker instead of “industrial design” and you’re categorized that way in the yellow pages, you’ll get a million inventor-types who don’t know a thing about PD calling you out of the blue, confusing you for one of those “market your invention” TV commercial type places.
I try to avoid these people because they have a different agenda, and tend to think their ONE GREAT IDEA is the one. This goes against the designers idea refinement process where you will start with a problem and narrow down the solution.
Plus these people tend to take offence that you will “perfect” their baby.
My advice is to hook them up with a patent attorney instead and wish them luck!
Sorry not posted in the yellow pages…only Referal and Website. Most inventors are refered by other inventors that we have helped to develop products for. But someware the fact that it costs $ get lost I guess.