Setting up a royalty deal based on personal project

I’ve been working on a personal project in my spare time after work. It’s purely aesthetical and the more I look at where I’m at, the more I think it could fit well with some of the brands I admire.

I’ve been thinking rather than just post it online and hopefully, it becomes clickbait for a while on blogs/Pinterest…should I share it with some of those dream brands so that not only could it go from my renders/3D prints to a tangible product…perhaps earn me a bit of beer money too.

I’ve never done something like this, only designing whilst fully employed by in-house or consultancy but from the digging I’ve done, brands like Stelton, Menu, Normann Copenhagen, Umbra…all use “named” designers for their products and it’d be great to be one of them.

I don’t want to come across as the garden shed/garage inventor but equally would like my submission to land in the correct inbox. I know Umbra accepts unsolicited design submissions but not sure about the others.

Also, how do I go about protecting my IP…slapping a watermark across it? Is it OK to send it to multiple brands once one rejects it, move on to the next kinda thing.

Be interesting to hear if anyone else has done something like this rather than starting from a set brief with pay structure already mapped out…?

Have you contacted any of the companies to ask about how they approach royalties, IP and pay structure? If the idea is fully mapped out and ready to go, and they like it, do you plan on licensing them the rights (you own the IP) to manufacture and sell your product for the royalty payment for x timeframe, or sell the entire idea to them (they own the IP) and then claim a royalty on each unit sold?

If you really think that you’re onto something, then I’d call and ask all of your questions so that they are expecting it before just dropping it into someones inbox and hoping that it’s the right one, that whatever it is is protected and that they actually get back to you. I’m sure that this would be a daily scenario for big brands.

Just be aware that certain brands have been known to steal designs from inventors like this. I had a friend who worked at a large housewares company who would routinely steal ideas from people who would come to them with new ideas, and it was actually the main reason why he ended up leaving the company. I think it might be a good idea to stick with companies who you know have done this for other designers. If you do decide to go that route, I think the poster above me had some good feedback.

Just out of curiosity, what’s keeping you from creating a kickstarter and selling the project on your own? Kickstarter campaigns do take a tremendous amount of work, but at least you’ll have total control over the design intent.

I’ve not done any of this hence why I posted here to see if others in the community had experience of doing such things. To your last point I’m fully aware certain brands get many submissions and why I said I don’t want to come across as an “inventor” but be the legitimate designer I am.

I think at this stage in terms of IP I’d prefer to sell them the idea and claim a royalty on each unit sold. I’d probably even be happy with a flat fee as it fits with some of my career goals at the moment to have product out in the world. I’d also use this as a stepping stone to be on their radar for more projects as I see they do with other designers.

To answer John, this particular idea is nowhere near any level of greatness that I’d want to try and get it into the world myself via Kickstarter funding and dedicate my time to manufacturing, marketing and selling. I’m not so precious about the overall design intent being retained but as mentioned before, being on the radar and having the credential of designing products for a respected housewares brand.

Sketchgrad–if you search Core77 for “licensing,” there are a bunch of relevant articles. I remember there were some earlier this year. Also, someone recently recommended the book “Invent Right” by Stephen Key, which addresses this kind of thing.

I’ve got a similar personal project in my pipeline, so I’ll be interested to hear how this works out for you.