Over 90% of the world’s patents do not get realized, that’s over 2.7 million patents annually. Those who are close to us may have already heard us almost scream this line. But why? Why don’t patents simply become an active solution and get rewarded for it? Well, it's all about what comes after the patent application, the development stage. Developing a patent is what steers the invention to intersect with the industry, turns into a portfolio, and starts to attract attention.
One way to start developing your patent is by heading to your local inventor’s group, it could be an alliance, like the Philadelphia Inventors Alliance, or an association, like the Inventors Association of Manhattan. Such groups usually are a great resource for inventors, one place to find industry experts, IP lawyers, and manufacturing partners. They might even hold meetings where they feature invention pitches or inventors guidance sessions. They'd also try to help inventors navigate the development process to avoid losing their investment with manufacturers with no record of successfully launching inventions.
Another way would be to pitch builders and marketers to build and license your patent. This is a long the have all odds stacked against it. However, it is still possible that you pitch your invention idea to partners like Invention City, for example, and they’d have it evaluated. If they decide to move forward with your invention, they’ll have it developed and licensed for free. But even free would cost you. It’d cost you a licensing percentage, a lot of pitching to get to the right partnership deal, and an IP lawyer in your corner.
What we have last is definitely not least, the Maker community. The only way that we found to have access to the maker community is by being a maker. Although inventors and makers join the same general scope of creation. Inventors are usually more into creating something totally new to fill in a certain gap in the currently available solutions. Makers on the other hand are passionate about the process of getting products or solutions to perform as they’re supposed to. Novelty is not prioritized as much as it is in the inventor communities. That being said, it’d be a great idea to attempt to partner with or pitch to the Maker community. Slim chances as pitching for ‘Free’ licensing deals. But still on the table nonetheless.
What we’re building at IntegraPitch is a platform for all those in the market to invent, make, market, or partner to bring a tangible solution to life. It’s all about inventions after all. If the inventor believes it will work, and a CAD designer knows how it should be like to work, then it’s easier for a prototype engineer to make it work and all participants become the village it took to prove the invention’s concept. And that village would share the ownership of the Intellectual Property and have it acquired through our platform as well.
To invent, not much is needed actually. You recognize a problem, a solution pops into your head. Or as Don Draper puts it 'Peggy, just think about it. Deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will jump up in your face.' That’s the easy part. The hard part is what to do with it. Well, it really depends. Peggy here was creating ideas as part of her day job. The role was literally called “Creative”. However, it’s not always the case. What type of ‘creative’ are you? Your lifestyle and personal traits can have a lot to do with that.
An inventor who leads less structured life, irregular or self employment, usually more capable of spotting issues with different industries not necessarily related to their own. It’s easier to spot something that can be done better from a distance. Working too close can become so systematic that the flows in processes can be compensated by expert workarounds. In this case outside inventors can pitch new ways of doing such generally accepted practices.
Another type of inventors are those who are paid to find flows and make processes better. Those are geniuses who keep on pushing their own limits. They even criticize their own inventions and findings. ‘There’s always room for improvement’, I can almost hear it in their heads. Such lifestyles usually lead to tremendous expertise in one specific area. You might have heard it, ‘They dedicated the majority of their lives to the study of ______’ and fill in the blank.
And there are those inventive teams who have a set of problems to solve, together. Day in and day out, these teams would meet, discuss, brainstorm, and criticize each other’s thesis and work on the most resilient ones. Although such teams are usually paid employees, they can also be simply enthusiastic about a certain field and have the time and resource to pour into it until they come up with something new. Do garage bands and man-cave-project-focused-friends count into this type, probably.
Now if you’re the owner of your invention, refer to employer agreements mentioned in our invention journey blog, you’ll have to decide what type of inventor you are. It’d make sense to consider options that are suitable for your lifestyle and traits. If you’re working in an industry and think you have a better holistic solution, you might want to start your own business around it. If you’re more of a freestyle inventor, you might consider leasing or selling your invention’s IP. Don’t want to invest much on every great idea you have, consider listing it on our platform. Design and prototype engineers might be able to contribute to it for a percentage of its sale price and if it doesn’t get that much traction, you can move on the next great idea, who knows?
You’ve got a great idea for a product that would help thousands if not millions of people? This is just the beginning of a long journey which many decide not to take. But for those who do, I command your courage. To start, every invention must go through a proper market research process, you may think of attempting that yourself, following the USPTO’s Seven Step Strategy or hire a professional, I’d recommend the latter. We’ll not go through the entire invention process but let’s say you’ve acquired the patent of this great invention. Now what? It's time to make some money out of it. Depending on the size, scope, field, and market, you may think of a few options.
If it’s a small gadget, you may think of following the design and prototype yourself, out of pocket. This is where many inventors fall prey to firms that ‘help’ in this process. Actually, the Inventor Protection Act of 1999 has addressed this issue and made it compulsory that these firms disclose the percentage of inventions that they helped bring to the market and made their owners money from royalties more than what they've spent. Jeff Dobkin from the Philadelphia Inventors Alliance has posted an important warning about that.
For more complex solutions, let's say, for example, in the field of renewable energy, one might think of licensing their patent. But who would have a great patentable invention in such fields, usually people working in them. So, if you’re an employee, this is the time that you check your employment agreement. Most of those agreements state that the employers own the Intellectual Property produced by their active employees. That’s not the only case though, you can be self employed, between jobs, or, my favorite, applying expertise from one industry to another. So try to license, but do your homework first.
A couple of factors that have a huge effect on how much money your patent can generate are infringement and portfolio. An Intellectual Property that is already being infringed by a company has more chance of having a high return either by licensing to such company or getting acquired by it can be a safer option. Portfolio, multiple patents, on the other hand strengthens the applicability of such patents. To achieve a profitable portfolio, an inventor might consider developing the solution to its full potential and then attempt to patent all possible intellectual property around it. Additionally, one can also show the multiple applications of a single patent to be considered as a portfolio.
In all cases, an inventor should consider all available options when trying to monetize their invention. We, at IntegraPitch, believe in simplicity and that patents are meant to get developed with experts for equity and offered for acquisition. However, it is and should not be your only option. And always consult with a legal professional. Your local inventors’ association or club can help as well.