Wishful thinking - Patenting, Communicating, Selling a Mobility-related Conept Idea

So, the story goes like this :
During the pandemic, in our small studio we start working on a “Mobility” project on EV commercial cars. Our intention was to create for our portfolio (and PR purposes) a whole case that would involve Market Identification / Business / Design elements, in an area other than the one we usually work.

After we developed the 3Ds, presentation, etc., we sent it to a quite popular Design-for-Manufacturing company that has consulted numerous automotive manufacturers around the world, intending to just get even a single response whether our idea is novel, interesting… Just to hear a word from experts, as in our personal and professional network, we have no person related to the mobility/car industries. Anyway, that consultancy was kind enough to suggest setting up a video-call with them to talk about our project. In summary, they said that the idea is both feasible and novel and that we should patent it before showing it around…

We never thought to go down this track of patenting an “idea/project” that we neither have the a) money and b) knowledge to develop into a “product”. But, we discussed it internally, we were excited to check any potentials on where this project would lead us, plus it would be the first time to patent such a complicated product. We developed a patent strategy, researched existing patents, drafted illustrations, claims, and discussed with IP attorneys.
Now, our IP consultancy is drafting our PCT patent through the Chinese Patent Office (CNIPA).
PCT application will take 6-8 months to be reviewed by CNIPA, and then (if the initial review is positive) we have another 23-25 months to decide in which countries we could file the Patent.

As soon as we file the PCT application, we were thinking to start releasing, demonstrating our idea online, or even directly connecting to mobility/car industry individuals (linkedin?) to present our idea.
“Selling” the idea - non-yet-and-who-knows-if-granted-patent is a wishful thinking, but as I mentioned, we have nothing to lose and we just want to see where this process will take us. Each single step is a new lesson, a learning process for us.

And here is the question…

How would you “communicate” - “sell” such a difficult idea. We are not talking about a single-part plastic component that perhaps a factory/brand could license. We are talking about a whole EV platform…

Some ideas-plans we thought about :

  • Cold-Calls (or better Cold-E.Mails). To Create a .pdf presentation and send it directly to key people (we have already identified via linkedin) whose email we will try to look for (not impossible, we have done that before). However, from previous experience, the response rate we may get (even a “thanks but your idea is stupid”) is super tiny.

  • To post a series of Images/Animation of our Project on Linkedin and tag those key people. We have created Co-Branded versions and the idea is to tag people for the respective Brands.
    The positive is that compared to cold-calls, these posts most likely will be “seen” and possibly(?) discussed as they will be in a public forum and not a personal email. The drawback is that it may feel like spamming if we tag 10+ people in each post.

  • To post a series of Images/Animation of our Project on Instagram/FB and tag the respective companies we are interested in to make them aware of our Project.

  • To submit PR material to EV/TEch/Design blogs and Instagram accounts hoping they will publish out Project.

  • Contact Patent Brokers and present them our Project / Patent. The bad thing is that PBs are not that many, usually working with Patent Portfolios of big companies or proven Patent Technologies, while they prefer granted patents than “patent-pending”-status Patents.

  • Contact Angel Investors / VCs to a) Act as potential Patent Brokers b) Finance the (hopefully granted PCT) Country application of our Patent. The exit of course will be to sell the Patent.

Any other ideas?

Trade shows. You could pony up for a booth or at the very least, go to their booth and press the flesh.

I don’t like cold calling, especially if you don’t know who’s who. Since I am very close to our NPD, if I get that email, I junk it for the fear of litigation. Been there, don’t want to do it again. How do know the right contact in a company of thousands?

Hi @steppenwolf

In the modern media environment, tech blogs need a constant feed of content. My suggestion would be to reach out to a number of tech publication editors and try to secure a lead story at a prestige media outlet (like FastCo).

Once you have that and it goes live, now you have an excellent conversation starter to email to potential contacts… or bet yet, they will be contacting you! It will also make for a more powerful share on social media like LinkedIn. Instead of saying “click this link to check out a project we did…” you could be saying “thanks FastCo for featuring us…”

@iab ’s suggestion of trade shows is also great. It is expensive but there are a number of green tech shows globally that could be worth to show at or at least attend. I’ve helped a few startups build out trade show booths that lead to the perceived sense of scale and acquisition interest. Another rout to save cost here is to partner with another company that already has a booth. Sometimes a larger company will have space in their booth that you can essentially sublet for the show.

@iab, @_YO , thanks a lot for your time to respond to my question and for your input.

Trade shows and especially Green / Mobility ones (that may be more accessible) is such a nice idea. We will check out such shows to see if we could take part, how and the costs. Partnership also is a very nice idea. We were planning to make a scale model of our Project anyways, so why not show it around.

@iab, I totally understand your point of view and it really makes sense. In terms of people inside companies, we will be targeting high-ranked executives on the areas of Innovation, Electrification, RnD and Management, in positions like Executives, Presidents, BoD etc. Since I graduated, I had the tendency to try to reach out to hard-to reach contacts and although hard and 99,9% none replied, I had this 0,1% in some moments of my career that replied and interesting things happened. I am firm believer of the quote “If you never play you will never lose, but you won’t win either”. But definitely, I recognize the concerns you raise. Not my most preferable approach either.

@_YO , Michael, for sure such contacting such websites, media is something we plan to do. The good thing is that the timing feels right, as EVs and Mobility is a hot topic.

About the intention to post a series of Linkedin posts (branded version of our Project), where we would tag 10+ profiles, employees of the said Brand, if it would be you that person, would you feel like spammed ? We are debating whether we should do it or not in this way.

I wouldn’t tag people that were not involved in the post itself. That would feel a little spammy to me. People tag me in random posts and I’m always like “what does this have to do with me”

Instead I would send the link to the post as a private message to the people you want to see it saying that you thought they might be interested in the project and would love to talk to you about it if you were curious to learn more. At the very most I would make a comment tagging said people with something like “thought you might be interested” but if you are tagging people from competitive brands I think it would come off a bit on the odd side.


BTW, a friend of mine did something rather similar. He worked on a unique concept, worked through the design, prototyped it, patented it, and then reached out to companies in the category to do in person meetings to show them the patented idea.

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@_YO , Michael, I understand.
To be more specific, the idea would be that if we show our Project with GM’s (for example) logos, as well as an application of our tech idea on Silverado, to tag only profiles of specific GM people in positions like GM’s Director - Global Innovation, Director of Fleet and Business Solution (as our project is heavily on the commercial B2B side), Director EV Ecosystem and so on. People related to the Brand / Product and the Idea we show.

Oh really, did he manage to sell it? Any lessons learnt from the process that he may shared with you and you could share as well?

@steppenwolf personally I don’t think it is a good idea to brand it GM and then show it to a bunch of GM people unless you are only going to show it to them. They might get a bit ruffled by that.

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Appreciate your input Michael, thanks!

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No problem. I’ve been on the other side of the table where companies have been pitching something to a company I’ve worked at and if they overtly branded it as ours it has caused some consternation for some folks! I think it is because they already have their product and brand plans and design language strategy, and then if the thing you present is even 10% off those things it can become an easy no vs if it is more of a generic design with a great core idea that allows them to envision how it might fit with what they are doing…

Just my personal experience of course, humans are all different and tricky :rofl:

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Pretty interesting observation.

Our Project is related to Vehicle Engineering and Product Architecture (that’s why we are going for Utility Patent and not Design Patent), that has really nothing to do with “Design”. We visualized the vehicle to demonstrate the idea in a super generic design so that we could slap any logo/brand or style. Actually looks more like a device than a transportation design object.
In addition, we would not aim to target the Project to Design Managers / Departments as, essentially, developing an overall new Product Architecture has mainly to do with Operation Executives, Innovation Managers etc.

Then why are you branding it? Sounds exactly like what any brand would hate- generic design with their logo slapped on.

Not sure I get the “product” but if brand isn’t important why are you going through all this to “brand” it. Is it aimed at T1 suppliers or is it a T2 component?


Gotcha @steppenwolf … I look forward to checking it out when it goes public!

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@rkuchinsky Hi Richard. Let me put it in footwear terms. Imagine we have developed a suspension mechanism for an adaptable sole, that hypothetically could be integrated in different types of shoes such as, hiking, basketball etc.
Our branded versions of these shoes are actually co-branded versions. For example, it would be Nike + Monroe, Asics + Kayaba (pretty straightforward, footwear and suspension brands). Or in a more abstract connotation of the concept or suspension (jump, fly…) would be something like Adidas + RedBull (Red Bull Gives You Wings…).
So as you correctly point out we would try to reach out to OEMs / T1 suppliers, T2 potentially. Through our co-branding ideation (not proposals) we would even try to communicate the Project/Mechanism even to Brands that are not Mobility brands, but IF they would use Vehicles carrying our “invention” for their business, our “invention” would either provide actual benefits or would “visualize” their Brand essence.
I know too abstract etc.
In any case, I hope in the course of the time and if things go smoothly will be able to share images/info in the Transportation section of the Forum.

If I understand your footwear analogy, I would suggest best not to visualize an application and co-brave, but just show the innovation to the innovation/design/development heads. Let the designers design.

You aren’t adding anything specific to their brand, no need to include it.

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