I hear inventor myths all the time.
We all know a myth is something you hear that simply is not true. Unfortunately myths tend to propagate through popular culture to a point of acquired credibility, simply because of the number of times they are repeated without challenge.
Two of the most popular myths in the independent inventor population have been allowed to propagate simply because they appear to make sense. They are to most inventors “intuitive” allowing us to quickly replace the facts with what we assume makes sense. The issue here is that not everything that makes sense is true, and even know your intuition may tell you it’s true, sometimes it just isn’t.
So let’s look at these loch Ness Monsters of inventing one at a time.
Myth one: You can’t license an unpatented idea to a manufacturer.
This statement is total garbage and a mathematical impossibility. With less than about 20% of all retail products on store shelves enjoying any level of patent protection the shelves would be empty if this myth were true. Inventors license ideas and product inventions to manufacturers all the time, many of them completely unpatented. That said (and before my inbox fills up with crazy emails) you should always try to obtain what protection you can on every invention. File a PPA, use an NDA, or just practice discretion with who and when you talk about your invention. These are common sense actions that can hedge your bet against any unforeseen issues. However, simply because you couldn’t obtain a patent on your idea makes it non licensable is just a silly myth.
Myth two: A fully developed product is worth more in a license deal.
Again, just a myth. In fact, it’s a myth that can get you into financial trouble quickly if you actually believe it.
Inventors license inventions to manufacturers not retailers. So this is the deal. We call these companies manufacturers because that’s what they do. They design, develop, test, package, and manufacture retail products. Knowing this, why would you want to go into that front door already having done their job for them? You wouldn’t.
What you would want to do is to bring them a functionally proven product, in a simplistic form, and the market data that will motivate them to have faith in it.
The fact that you spent tons of money “developing” your product means very little to them. They will use their significant experience and expertise to do what you, with your limited experience and little expertise, attempted to do – and my guess is they will do it better.
These are not the only myths in the inventing industry to be sure. However they are two that come up the most frequently and appear to effect the most inventors.