Selling a patent

What is the probability of designing a product, patenting it, and then selling the patent to a company that needs it?? It seems to me that this would be a logical first step into the design world. If you have a couple good ideas that you can get patented, you can then leverage contacts and your sales/preso skills to convince a company to take it off your hands. While I realize they would heavily discount future value of the product, it would allow a person to work in the field on a limited basis and begin to get a feel for what it takes to succeed.

Of course, I do realize the difficulty in actually creating a unique product that is desired by enough people to make it worth investing in. I don’t want anyone to think I am fooling myself. I just want to know if there are opportunities for designing products that companies don’t even know they need yet.

For an inventor or entrepreneur, yes.
For a designer, no. (Start with a design degree.)

Patents are very very time consuming, expensive, and would then require a significant sales-effort on your behalf. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars per concept and years of development.

I’ve worked with toy inventors that contract out their best ideas to designers for visualization prior to pitching to the buyers at annual toy-fairs. They produce about 50 viable concepts a year, of which, maybe 2-3 are licensed for a royalty. None of these inventors deal with patents for the aformentioned reasons–instead they have a “gentlemans agreement” with the toy companies. If that trust were ever broken, they inventor community would blacklist them and they’d loose out on a key source of innovation.

I think maybe ID isn’t what I want to do. What I want to do is be an inventor and an entrepreneur. What is this market like?? My thinktank dreams up ideas on a daily basis, but we struggle with moving beyond the brainstorming phase. Primarily because we all have 9-5 jobs that limit our time and resources.

Having recently completed my MBA, I have limited exposure to the design process (open ended brainstorming, accepting all ideas, designing for the customer, etc.). I think we have clever, useful ideas (although some are worthless). What kind of opportunities are available for freelance inventors?? How far do they typically have to take a product in order to be able to approach a corporation??

Thanks so much for your insight.

It sounds like you have two issues:

1) Benchmarking your ideas

A lot of inventors use consumer research benchmarking.

Take a look at what Doug Hall is doing. He used to offer that service via a firm, but now promotes an artificial intelligence advisor that benchmarks your idea with “10,000+ other concepts on dozens of traits that have been proven predictive of actual marketplace success.” (I have NO idea if this actually works, but Hall is as credible as inventors get.)

2) Representing your ideas

Since representing your ideas is a fulltime job, your only good option is to hire someone else to rep you. If you find a rep that really believes in your ideas, you might even get one at no-cost but a royalty arrangement.

you might want to get provisional first, (only $80 fee), but definitely get the help of an attorney in filing those applications. Most companies wouldn’t even consider listening to anything a random cold caller has to offer without him having some sort of patent protection or signing their own “Policy and Conditions for Submitted Ideas” which isn’t such a good idea ,…
since most of them include how they are not required to hold confidence whatever you disclose to them, that they have hundreds of similar submissions, have their “own developments in progress,” etc… They cover ALL bases and they get the upper hand.

I am pretty much in the same boat, having some good practical ideas, limited resources, and having trouble taking it to the next level.

Any other wise insights on the topic?

A little while ago “ML” had some good adivce/thoughts on a similar topic…
i’ll bump it

just remember even if you have a patent and you show your idea that doesn’t stop the company from saying no thanks to you and just finding a way around your patent. So make sure that if you are going to invest the time and money into a patent make it water tight. sometimes just the wording can make the patent. Trust me I know from experience.

The provisional is a great suggestion. I did this and it was a very good way to go. THe other important thing is to try to find out if the company has good ethics. This is not easy to do. THe other thing is to remember the whole experience is a learning experience. Don’t be too afraid to make some mistakes. The next idea you have and market will be that much easier.


mark, what were the next steps after you got the provisional?

Here’s pretty good site with information - The Rarest Patent and IP Protection Domain Name Now Available for Offers