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.