Inventors often believe that getting a patent is automatically going to make them money. However, the U.S. Patent Office reports that less than 3% of patents ever make any money for the inventor. Yes, a 97% failure rate! The Federal Trade
Commission cites an even lower rate of success: less than 1%. Yet, in sharp contrast to these statistics many successful inventors have a virtual 100% success rate. Why is this? What are the experts doing to ensure their success?
Unfortunately, most individuals with good ideas follow a traditional approach to inventing and patenting which is certain to put them into the 97% failure category. Unknowing (or money hungry) patent attorneys and agents usually teach these methodologies. Many inventor organizations and their inexperienced inventor/leaders do, too. It is propagated by the fact that many attorneys will scare unsuspecting inventors with the comment, “you don’t have any protection until you have a patent.” This is clearly misleading. As you will see, being scared into rushing to file for patents will almost always assure an inventor of having a worthless patent and becoming part of the 97% failure statistic.
Many invention promotion firms run slick ads on radio and TV and add to the problem. Although their ads appear to make inventors believe that their success and financial gain is eminent, by reading their literature you will find that their success rate is absolutely dismal being less than 1/100 of 1%. However, this is not surprising since I don’t know of any invention promotion company that has a single successful inventor on their staff.
Last, many unknowing inventors begin their pursuit of patenting by trying to save the high cost of hiring patent attorneys and file the application themselves. It is referred to as filing “pro per”. This typically results in a huge waste of time for the inventor. These patents generally have a very limited scope (protection) and are easy for skilled inventors or engineers to design around.
The traditional approach teaches an inventor to:
- protect his/her invention
- do a patent search
- file a patent application
- make prototypes and
- see if they can make some sales
If you are a first time or inexperienced inventor, this is the exact methodology that guarantees a 97% failure rate. It will cost you a lot of money and a lot of time and will almost assuredly result in worthless, ineffective patents. In my From Patent to Profit workshops, about 1/3 or more of the inventors I met —
who have followed this traditional approach to patenting — ended with patents that they later designed around. Why? Keep reading.
In contrast to the traditional approach, the expert inventor knows that patents cost money, they don’t earn money. They also know that they are not going to waste their valuable money, time and efforts on a whim. But the best news of all is that expert inventors know how to do this with very little out of pocket expense!
For example, of my 14 patents, I own 10 of them. I also have 7 patents pending. All 10 patents I own — and the 7 pending — are licensed and producing sales and income. Yet, I have paid the filing and prosecuting costs on only 3 of my patents and patents pending. This is not uncommon. Inventor Andy Gibbs also has a 100% success rate with his 7 patents. Yujiro Yamamoto has a virtual 100% success rate with his 46+ patents! (Yujiro is the original inventor of the telephone answering machine and cordless telephone.) Andy did not personally pay for his, nor did Yujiro pay for most of his. There are many other inventors with similar success stories. What is the patent strategy we all use?
First of all, we do not rush out and file like many patent attorneys would like you to do. Besides, the first-to-invent laws of the United States protect us. In summary these laws state that the inventor who is first to conceive of an idea, then reduce it to practice (that is, prove that it works the way you say it does) will be acknowledged as the legal inventor. The only other issue that an inventor should keep in mind is that if work on the invention has been abandoned, then he/she will lose those rights. In other words, you have to proceed with due diligence in your development and cannot let large amounts of
time elapse. The best way to track your day-to-day activities is by using a legal, bound journal.
Second, smart inventors know that being successful means making money, not getting patents. Thus, expert inventors make sure their products are sellable before filing for patents. In a complete reversal of the traditional method (the 97% failure rate), which puts marketing last, smart inventors qualify the market potential right up front! After protecting their invention, they will work confidentially with marketing experts in the field of their invention that can secure some substantial sales commitments. Then, they will work with manufacturing experts to get their invention made cost effectively.
Think about it, it’s only common sense. It is smart business, not wishful thinking. Sales earn money and patents cost money. You want to get sales, and you want to protect them with patents. Besides, your marketing experts will confirm the desirability of your invention/product concept. They will inform you what the best attributes are and will help you mold your invention into a high-volume, sellable product. Your manufacturing expert see: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ktatech
to make the prototypes and working models for testing. So, get these experts on your team early on, before you file for patents, and develop your inventions/products with all the right attributes and excellent patent coverage! Know you are going to make money before you spend it on patenting!
Perhaps the best outcome of all is that by partnering (or licensing) with marketing and manufacturing experts, most of the cost of development and patenting is absorbed by them, not you! In return for their investment in the initial manufacturing costs and the marketing expense, they will have exclusivity. The exclusivity is, of course, conditioned upon their on-going ability to perform.
When you are thinking of patenting, think of marketing first. Then, just like the
experts, you will be guaranteed that your invention/innovation will make you
money. If you would like to learn more about the patent strategy of expert