That’s a pretty picture…

There are graphics every ware we look in life, packaging, billboards, clothing, even in places we don’t expect to find them – there they are. But all that imagery doesn’t mean we need what they are selling or that we care about the message they send.
As inventors we need to understand there is a huge demand for the graphical communication of the ideas and concepts we are presenting to the world – a world who may not share our ability to visualize those ideas in their mind. But when it comes to graphics, just because it’s available doesn’t mean we need them or that when we do, they are telling the right story.
So what’s an inventor to do? Educate yourself on where you are in the inventing process and then figure out what the graphic needs are for that particular place on your journey. Don’t just run off and get graphics because they make you feel good, or because they are cool looking. Make sure you need them and then make sure they work for you.
Below are the most common graphics needs for inventors. Read through them and then figure out where in your process they best fit.
I want to license my product idea to a company, what are my graphics needs to accomplish that?
- Manufacturer’s Sell Sheet: This simple one sided 8X10 is a basic illustration of your idea along with some benefit claims and contact information.
- Basic Product Illustrations: This can be as simple as a single 2D drawing of your idea in its final form, or as complicated as a set of 3D Illustrations of your idea in several different views – either way they are basic renderings designed to help people see what you are talking about.
I want to build a company around my idea and present it to manufacturers for development and to retailers for distribution, what are my graphics needs to accomplish this?
- Full Product Illustrations: These renderings are drawing of your idea in its final form normally presented as a set of 3D Illustrations of your idea in several different views. You can use these to find investors, or to see how the final product will look, but make sure if you invest in these they show enough detail to be able to explain the manufacturing processes to a factory.

- Glamor/Use Shots: Not unlike the place in your local mall, these are renderings designed to show how pretty your product is or your product “placed” graphically into a retail setting.

 
- Virtual Prototypes: This is a relatively new graphic in the industry; it’s a set of 3D drawings capable of being used for machining parts. On the surface they appear the same as 3D renderings however when you pay to have these done they MUST have the code embedded in them to run the prototyping equipment or they are just a pretty picture.
 
- Company Identity Graphics: In communicating with a retailer it’s very important to look professional. Take some time to build an identity for your new company that includes a nice logo, maybe a basic website, and even a professional sounding name.
 
- Retailer Product Sell Sheets: Nothing like the sell sheet used to present an idea to a manufacturer, a real product sell sheet includes several parts that are customary in the industry. Things like the “Glam Shot” or image showing your product on the front page, the “Use Shot” showing your product in a store environment, and the product information. These are all very important to developing a sell sheet that not only looks professional but gives the buyer the information they will need to actually place an order.
 
- Product Price Sheets: These simple but important documents contain information vital to the process of commercialization. They include information such as – the number of units in a case, the number of cases on a pallet, the UPC code, and of course the unit, case, and pallet pricing.
 
- Product Order Form: It’s just makes sense. You want the retailer to place an order, so you have to give them a way to do that – obviously that’s an order form. This form includes the contact information for both the retailer and the fulfillment company. It also included the payment terms, references, and order volume. 
 
As with most things in this business there are always more than one way to do things – but when it comes to graphics don’t scrimp. Use a professional who knows what they are doing and make sure you do your homework so you can guide them on the proper information needed to make sure the entire story gets told – not just the pretty pictures.
For additional information about Mark Reyland and the UIA check out these links:

http://www.uiausa.org/the-executive-director


https://twitter.com/TheInventorGuy


http://www.inventoropinion.com/


http://www.blogger.com/profile/04168197719376330440


http://inventionhome.com/2012/12/06/how-the-uia-mark-reyland-are-helping-the-invention-industry


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXe3BB4y2DY


http://www.marktreyland.com/

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

Are you finding everything okay?

As consumers we’re all very familiar with the term “Retail” – We go to stores, we purchase products, we go home and we use them. But have you ever given thought to the fact that retail falls into two different categories? From a product development standpoint, and consequently from an inventing standpoint, we have to think of retail as” Attended” retail and “Unattended” retail.

I learned this lesson the hard way in the very first retail product I ever developed. The product was called The Game Paw; it was a Nerf style foam fan product of a Cat Paw with the number one. After months and months of development we finally dialed the product in and packaged it in a Poly-bag with a header card – a standard way of packaging that kind of a product.
Since this was a sports fan product it was sold in regional sports stores. These stores are what we call “Attended Retail” because they have a small number of employees who can see everything going in the store at any given time. The product quickly sold thousands of units with no damage or theft issues.
Then one day we got a call from a major grocery chain. They wanted to carry the Game Paw for the upcoming football season. This was a great opportunity – or so we thought. In the discussions with the buyer we decided the display mechanism would be what’s called a Dump Bin. A large cardboard or wireframe bin normally placed in the middle of the main aisle ways.
It wasn’t long before we learned the lesson of unattended retail. We would always go to the retailers who carried our products and check on them once a week. It’s a good habit to get into so you can take care of any issues as soon as they come up.

Well it wasn’t long before we had an issue with this dump bin full of Game Paws. We found the product was being de-packaged and broken. Kids were taking the foam paws out of the package, putting it on their hands and fighting with each other.

In a grocery store environment the square footage to employees ratio is a hugely different than in a sports shop. There was no one to constantly take a look at the product and make sure nobody was messing with it. The packaging that had worked just fine in attended retail didn’t work very well at all in the unattended retail environment.

Even though technically it wasn’t our responsibility, we credited the retailer back for the damage parts and then reevaluated the packaging and the displays until we were able to solve the problem.
The lesson learned here was that we didn’t think about the difference between “attended retail” and “unattended retail” until we were already in the stores.
I guess that’s what we call experience, and sometimes you can only gain experience by making mistakes.
The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

Please Help….

 
Please do your part. America depends on us as inventors and the United Inventors Association depends on the support of the inventor community to continue free inventor education programs. Please support our community through a tax deductible donation to the United Inventors Association – Thank You
 

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

What is PMS color?

 PMS (Pantone Matching System) is a color matching standard used in the Printing Industry for selecting colors, similar to how you would select a paint color in a hardware store. PMS colors are used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabrics and plastic parts.
At its core, the Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. One such use is standardizing colors in the CMYK process. The CMYK process is a method of printing color by using four inks—cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The vast majority of the world’s printed material is produced using the CMYK process, So by assigning a code (Pantone number) to the colors everyone stays on the same page.
With 1,114 different PMS shades to choose from, there are plenty of options when selecting color for a product or packaging design.

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

You’re on Notice!

One of the issues with inventing products is of course the intellectual property.  Receiving a patent that serves as the nexus between the product and it’s practical protection is just one step in a process that will last the life of either the patent or the product.

We say this because having a patent and telling the world you have that protection on a specific product are two different things. In fact, the law requires you notify the public that such formal protection exists or face the chance that if you are infringed upon the damages recovered may be significantly lower.

Recently I attended a tradeshow for the “End of Life” industry. Interesting in every aspect if you have never been to such a show, but even more intriguing if you think about the hyper competitive nature of that industry.

Because there are limited ways to accomplish what they do, and a huge market for their services, infringement on what appears to be about 250,000 related patents is sure to be a problem.

 I snapped this picture on the show floor because it struck me as a truly unique way of putting this company’s competitors on notice. Unique approach? truly, but does it serve the legal requirement for notification? Not really. For that you must still abide by the Marking Statute.

Don’t get me wrong, any notification of intellectual protection, both pending and awarded, is a good thing to get in the habit of doing. Just remember a good strategy for providing public “notifications” and following the requirements of “markings” together are always your best defense against an infringer’s claim they didn’t know.   

THE MARKING STATUTE

To be entitled to damages, the patentee must comply with the patent marking statute. This statute requires:

Patentees, and persons making, offering for sale, or selling within the United States any patented article for or under them or importing any patented article into the United States, may give notice to the public that the same is patented, either by fixing thereon the word “patent” or the abbreviation “pat.”, together with the number of the patent, or when, from the character of the article, this cannot be done, by fixing to it, or to the package wherein one or more of them is contained, a label containing a like notice.

35 U.S.C. § 287(a). The marking statute serves the purpose of allowing the public to readily identify the intellectual property status of articles in commerce and to prevent innocent infringement. If a party fails to comply with this provision, it may still be entitled to recover money damages if it provides actual notice to the infringing party. The notice requirement under the marking statute provides:

In the event of failure to so mark, no damages shall be recovered by the patentee in any action for

infringement, except on proof that the infringer was notified of the infringement and continued to infringe thereafter, in which event damages may be recovered only for infringement occurring after such notice.

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

Left out in the cold…..

I was having a discussion the other day with an inventor about patents. That’s not really abnormal considering patents are a big part of our industry. However this conversation was specifically about assigning patent rights to a company when you license your product idea to them.
Patent Assignment: The sale and/or transfer of ownership of a patent by the assignor (Inventor or co-inventor) to the assignee.
This is the only legally recognized way by the USPTO of transferring ownership of a patent. Not a handshake, or a contract, or even a deathbed gift will be recognized as a valid form of patent transfer by the USPTO.
Just to be clear – from a business perspective it is NEVER a good idea to assign a patent to a company in the course of a licensing deal. There is simply no need. The license contract itself serves as a pseudo assignment in the terms it grants the company for use of the intellectual property. Most importantly it does it in a way that is 100% reversible if the time comes that you and the company part ways.
As we were talking I started to think about how sites like Quirky (who have never been very interested in telling inventors about the damage to Patent rights using their site causes) handle patents on products they chose to commercialize.
I found the answer in their terms and conditions statement…..and I guess it tells the story.
“In connection with any Accepted Product Idea, to the extent that you submit User Content in connection with that Accepted Product Idea and your User Content is incorporated or made part of any commercialized version of that Product Idea, you hereby assign to Company, and agree to deliver such additional assignments or other instruments of transfer or Intellectual Property Rights perfection as may be reasonably requested by the Company, all of your right, title and interest in such User Content, including without limitation all Intellectual Property Rights. You further agree that you will not make any claims against the Company or any third party who is assigned or licensed rights in such User Content by the Company, based on any allegations that any activities by the Company or such third party infringe your (or anyone else’s) Intellectual Property Rights in such User Content. You further acknowledge and agree that in connection with any such assignment you reserve no rights whatsoever and the Company shall have the right to enforce all Intellectual Property Rights in such User Content against you and any subsequent use by you of such User Content.”
Like I said, it’s never a good idea to assign your patent to anyone in a licensing deal. It is an irreversible action that gives 100% rights to the company and leaves you…. out in the cold.
The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

Do I need a UPC?

As a consumer, you’ve probably noticed how nifty and efficient Universal Product Codes are. And as an entrepreneur, you may have figured out that having UPCs or bar codes on your products could be important for ensuring their success at retail.
UPCs are the unique configurations – consisting of a block of black and white bars with an accompanying numbers that appear on each individual product in the American retailing system. Because they help standardize the identities of millions of products across various manufacturing, distribution and retailing systems, UPCs have become crucial for making sure that everyone in the marketplace is buying and selling exactly what they think they’re buying and selling.
And for startups, getting UPC codes for your products has become part of the price of admission for scaling up your production, distribution and sales. Here’s what you need to know:
What exactly are UPC codes?
Each UPC Code is a set of alternating black and white bars representing numbers (12 in the U.S.; 13 in Europe) that scanners recognize as unique from every other product. These markers caught on in the U.S. grocery business more than 30 years ago after the feds instituted new standards for nutritional labeling on food containers.
Today, the not-for-profit group GS1, administers UPCs globally. This is in fact the ONLY place you can obtain an original UPC account. However there are many companies that buy UPCs in bulk and resell them to smaller manufactures and even inventors.
It’s important to note here UPCs are an inventory control device as well as a modern day price tag. When you assign a UPC to a product you assign it based on the inventory control requirments. For example if you are selling Teddy Bears to Target and the buyer could care less what colors they come in you would assign one UPC to that product. However if the product comes in 12 colors and Target is interested in tracking all 12 colors of Bear you must assign a different UPC to each color. Now you have used 12 UPCs instead of just one. The same would be said for size, or any other defining characteristic of the product.
Do I really need UPCs on my products?
If you plan on selling through large retailers, you will absolutely need to have a UPC. You won’t get far in mainstream retailing without UPCs, because chains depend on bar-code info provided by their suppliers to ensure accuracy and drive efficiency in their own sales results, ordering and logistics. You’ll also need UPCs to be able to use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to electronically receive and send info about orders. A small boutique store may not use EDI, but it’s a standard ordering system used by almost all major retailers.
On the other hand, if you mainly sell to a handful of small B2B customers, you might never need bar codes. Or if you largely retail your products through mom-and-pop shops, boutiques, artists’ markets and other small-scale outlets that generally don’t rely on scanning equipment, you might be able to avoid the bar-code requirement as well – though you should have your own internal way of keeping track of individual products.
Tristen Sullivan recently discovered the importance of UPCs when Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s began requiring her Los Angeles baby-accessories company to supply them.
“I would have lost an order from Nordstrom’s several months ago if I hadn’t been able to get up and running with UPC codes,” says Sullivan, whose Dust Bunnies line includes baby blankets, boots and other accessories. But the $1-million company continues to ship its wares to about 600 boutiques without attaching UPCs.
So, how do you get UPCs?
There are two ways actually. You can visit GS1, The site will take you step by step through the sign-up process, asking you to answer a few questions.
You’ll pay an application fee of a few to several hundred dollars, then a much smaller annual fee. The exact amount of the fee depends on your answers to application questions, including a revenue projection for the next 12 months, and the number of products for which you expect to need individual UPCs in that time. You won’t be held to the answers, so it’s OK to guesstimate.
Assuming your application is accepted, you’ll be e-mailed a “member kit” including company-ID sub-code that will comprise the first few digits of each of your UPCs. You supply a few digits by numbering your own products. Then GS1 generates a random number for the last digit of each UPC.
If you don’t want to purchase UPCs directly from GS1 you can purchase them from a reseller. These companies are all over the place and vary greatly in how they work and how much they charge. Generally for an inventor this is a better option since the amount of product you are selling is relatively low and your market may be untested. You will pay a little more but you don’t lock yourself in to anything long term.
As you can see, UPCs are just another of the many things you have to know when taking a product to market – but if you take the time to educate yourself and ask questions you can normally eat the product development Elephant one bite at a time.
The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

Calling all Inventors…..

 
 
After you register for a booth in the UIA Inventor area make sure you make plans to attend the FREE UIA Inventor education seminar on May 6th from 9-5. For questions or information on the seminar – or information on how your company can sponsor the UIA education programs contact Jessica at jessica@uiausa.org
 
 
 

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

UIA Sponsor Slingshot helping kids!

 
UIA Sponsor Slingshot Product Development Group has been working with a competitive robotics team comprised of 9 – 12 year olds to prototype a new invention. The Determinators approached SPDG a few months ago with an idea for an assistance product for elderly people. The product helps to raise the person from a seated position through the use of an inflatable wedge that sits on the chair beneath them. SPDG assisted with some engineering challenges and helped to create a prototype that they were able to demonstrate on the Fox&Friends show. We could not be more impressed with and excited for this dynamic group of young minds and their determination to see their product make it to the market.


Find out more about slingshot at http://slingshotpdg.com/

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

UIA Sponsor Slingshot helping kids!

 
UIA Sponsor Slingshot Product Development Group has been working with a competitive robotics team comprised of 9 – 12 year olds to prototype a new invention. The Determinators approached SPDG a few months ago with an idea for an assistance product for elderly people. The product helps to raise the person from a seated position through the use of an inflatable wedge that sits on the chair beneath them. SPDG assisted with some engineering challenges and helped to create a prototype that they were able to demonstrate on the Fox&Friends show. We could not be more impressed with and excited for this dynamic group of young minds and their determination to see their product make it to the market.


Find out more about slingshot at http://slingshotpdg.com/

Calling all inventors… Free Seminar

 
The 2013 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas is sure to be a HUGE hit for inventors. With over 100 inventor booths in a single area we know from years past it will bring all the major companies in Hardware, Lawn & Garden, Tailgating, Cleaning, Building, Pet, Paint…. into a single place to see what YOU the inventor are working on.
As good as that sounds – The really cool event happens the day before the show starts (Monday May 6th) When the UIA hosts our annual Hardware Show inventor education seminar. This year we are featuring Ahmed Hassen from the hit TV show Yard Crashers. 
This event is not only packed with professionals speaking about all kinds of topics associated with inventing and taking products to market. It’s FREE! – That’s right, like all UIA inventor education programs it’s 100% Free to attend.
This year’s topics include
Branding Your Inventions
New Patenting rules that effect you as an inventor
Licensing to major tool manufacturers
….and more
For more information about the UIA Inventor Seminar contact Jessica Delich at jessica@uiausa.org or to sign up for one of the few booths still available go to   http://inventortradeshows.com/show/hardware
 

 

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

7 Inventor Mistakes

My good friend Ryan Grepper from Inventor’s Blueprint sent this over from his new inventor blog. Ryan is great inventor, a tenacious educator, and a true friend to inventors. Take a moment and check out his new blog at http://www.inventorsblueprint.com/blog/7-biggest-inventor-mistakes/

Successfully bringing a new product to market is something that requires persistence and patience, yet too often people rush ahead and make the same mistakes as others before them. While anyone can have a great idea, almost everyone can benefit from learning where others went wrong. Here are the top seven mistakes that inventors tend to make:

#7 Falling in Love with Your Invention

It’s not easy to remain objective about that brilliant idea you just came up with, but you need to force yourself to look at things through the eyes of others.

We all have biases for what we have created (yes, your baby is themost beautiful!), but only by recognizing our biases can we proceed. That new idea may truly be great, but let’s take it one step at a time.

Your solution may be new, but is it really better? Is it really different? You need to ask other people for their opinions, and those people should not be related or friends with you. Often your friends and family are not in a position to give you honest, objective opinions. It’s likely they will say only positive things in order to avoid conflict or simply to show their support.

You need honest, objective feedback, so make sure to get feedback from potential customers and take their comments to heart. If enough people don’t “get it” or don’t see the value in your new idea, consider going back to the drawing board. Or save your time, energy and effort for your next great idea.

#6 Failing to Research the Market Early

The phrase “rushing blindly ahead” could have been coined to describe what often happens to people when they come up with their first big idea. They run out and spend money and time building prototypes, hiring patent attorneys, and creating sales sheets without ever checking to see if something similar already exists.

Just because you haven’t seen it at Walmart doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. Before you impulsively spend your time, energy and money, make sure to thoroughly explore the market. This means going to actual stores, as well as looking online using every search description you can think of.

If you discover a product that’s similar to your idea, that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. The more significant the improvement is, the better your chance for success. Just be sure to determine if the other product has a patent, and that your solution doesn’t infringe on it.

#5 Doing Everything Yourself

Because there are so many hats to wear in launching a new product, inventors frequently make the mistake of trying to wear all of them. Sometimes it’s because they want to save money, and other times it’s because they think no one else can do it better.

There’s a time and place for both mindsets, but you won’t know which is which until you objectively analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Different aspects of the invention process are more right-brain or left-brain tasks, and while most of us can do a good job at some aspect or another, very few of us are good at both.

The last thing you want is to have all your worthwhile efforts undone by a shabby looking logo or an ill-conceived marketing plan or an incomplete patent search that you tried to do yourself.

#4 Rushing to Get a Patent

Do you really need a patent for your invention? The answer depends on many things, including your idea, your goals, your path to market, but most importantly, timing.

Before you rush to protect that idea of yours, make sure you have something worth protecting. Do your research. Understand your market opportunity. Refine your design.

At a cost of $7,000 to $10,000, a patent only gives you the right to stop others from copying, producing and selling your invention. The only better way to stop others from copying is to have a product idea that has no market or just isn’t profitable.

#3 Inaction

Countless times each year, I’m introduced to people who, after learning that I’m an inventor, want to share their idea with me. Often these ideas aren’t earth-shattering (six minute abs!), but frequently they sound pretty good.

Then I ask the question, “So what have you done with it?” The answer is almost always, “Nothing”.

Remember, you can’t be the first to market if you never start the race.

#2 Worrying about Others Stealing Your Invention

Worrying about others stealing your idea is the biggest reason people make the last two mistakes I outlined above.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that coming up with a great idea is only the first of many steps to being successful and profiting from it. And those other steps take a commitment to your idea that, in most cases, only you are willing to make.

As we discuss in Inventors Blueprint, there are some simple, inexpensive solutions to help protect your idea early on before you get to the point of thinking about filing and paying for full patent protection.

I’m sure that there are people out there who are trying specifically to steal other people’s ideas, just as I’m sure there are people who get hit by lightning every year. But if your idea truly fills a need, then there are guaranteed to be others who are trying to invent similar solutions.

So, forget the worrying. Spend your time taking action and beating the other solutions to market.

#1 Not Learning How Others Have Succeeded

Every other profession has apprenticeships or schools that teach you how learn a new trade. But for some reason, people constantly try to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to creating a new product.

The single biggest action you can take to improve your chances of having success with your idea is to study how others have succeeded, then follow a proven path to the market. Whether you use Inventors Blueprint, study other books, or find another program, please take the time to learn what works from the successes and failures of others.

This list only talks about the top seven mistakes that inventors make, but there are countless other tricks to know as you learn how to invent. The School of Hard Knocks is a good teacher, but the tuition is pretty high in terms of lost money, lost time, and wasted energy. The tragedy is that many good inventions are lost and many creative people get discouraged after learning one too many lessons the hard way.

For more information on the Inventors Blueprintand to access several free videos that can help get you started, check out www.inventorsblueprint.com.

 
The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

7 Inventor Mistakes

My good friend Ryan Grepper from Inventor’s Blueprint sent this over from his new inventor blog. Ryan is great inventor, a tenacious educator, and a true friend to inventors. Take a moment and check out his new blog at http://www.inventorsblueprint.com/blog/7-biggest-inventor-mistakes/

Successfully bringing a new product to market is something that requires persistence and patience, yet too often people rush ahead and make the same mistakes as others before them. While anyone can have a great idea, almost everyone can benefit from learning where others went wrong. Here are the top seven mistakes that inventors tend to make:

#7 Falling in Love with Your Invention

It’s not easy to remain objective about that brilliant idea you just came up with, but you need to force yourself to look at things through the eyes of others.

We all have biases for what we have created (yes, your baby is themost beautiful!), but only by recognizing our biases can we proceed. That new idea may truly be great, but let’s take it one step at a time.

Your solution may be new, but is it really better? Is it really different? You need to ask other people for their opinions, and those people should not be related or friends with you. Often your friends and family are not in a position to give you honest, objective opinions. It’s likely they will say only positive things in order to avoid conflict or simply to show their support.

You need honest, objective feedback, so make sure to get feedback from potential customers and take their comments to heart. If enough people don’t “get it” or don’t see the value in your new idea, consider going back to the drawing board. Or save your time, energy and effort for your next great idea.

#6 Failing to Research the Market Early

The phrase “rushing blindly ahead” could have been coined to describe what often happens to people when they come up with their first big idea. They run out and spend money and time building prototypes, hiring patent attorneys, and creating sales sheets without ever checking to see if something similar already exists.

Just because you haven’t seen it at Walmart doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. Before you impulsively spend your time, energy and money, make sure to thoroughly explore the market. This means going to actual stores, as well as looking online using every search description you can think of.

If you discover a product that’s similar to your idea, that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. The more significant the improvement is, the better your chance for success. Just be sure to determine if the other product has a patent, and that your solution doesn’t infringe on it.

#5 Doing Everything Yourself

Because there are so many hats to wear in launching a new product, inventors frequently make the mistake of trying to wear all of them. Sometimes it’s because they want to save money, and other times it’s because they think no one else can do it better.

There’s a time and place for both mindsets, but you won’t know which is which until you objectively analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Different aspects of the invention process are more right-brain or left-brain tasks, and while most of us can do a good job at some aspect or another, very few of us are good at both.

The last thing you want is to have all your worthwhile efforts undone by a shabby looking logo or an ill-conceived marketing plan or an incomplete patent search that you tried to do yourself.

#4 Rushing to Get a Patent

Do you really need a patent for your invention? The answer depends on many things, including your idea, your goals, your path to market, but most importantly, timing.

Before you rush to protect that idea of yours, make sure you have something worth protecting. Do your research. Understand your market opportunity. Refine your design.

At a cost of $7,000 to $10,000, a patent only gives you the right to stop others from copying, producing and selling your invention. The only better way to stop others from copying is to have a product idea that has no market or just isn’t profitable.

#3 Inaction

Countless times each year, I’m introduced to people who, after learning that I’m an inventor, want to share their idea with me. Often these ideas aren’t earth-shattering (six minute abs!), but frequently they sound pretty good.

Then I ask the question, “So what have you done with it?” The answer is almost always, “Nothing”.

Remember, you can’t be the first to market if you never start the race.

#2 Worrying about Others Stealing Your Invention

Worrying about others stealing your idea is the biggest reason people make the last two mistakes I outlined above.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that coming up with a great idea is only the first of many steps to being successful and profiting from it. And those other steps take a commitment to your idea that, in most cases, only you are willing to make.

As we discuss in Inventors Blueprint, there are some simple, inexpensive solutions to help protect your idea early on before you get to the point of thinking about filing and paying for full patent protection.

I’m sure that there are people out there who are trying specifically to steal other people’s ideas, just as I’m sure there are people who get hit by lightning every year. But if your idea truly fills a need, then there are guaranteed to be others who are trying to invent similar solutions.

So, forget the worrying. Spend your time taking action and beating the other solutions to market.

#1 Not Learning How Others Have Succeeded

Every other profession has apprenticeships or schools that teach you how learn a new trade. But for some reason, people constantly try to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to creating a new product.

The single biggest action you can take to improve your chances of having success with your idea is to study how others have succeeded, then follow a proven path to the market. Whether you use Inventors Blueprint, study other books, or find another program, please take the time to learn what works from the successes and failures of others.

This list only talks about the top seven mistakes that inventors make, but there are countless other tricks to know as you learn how to invent. The School of Hard Knocks is a good teacher, but the tuition is pretty high in terms of lost money, lost time, and wasted energy. The tragedy is that many good inventions are lost and many creative people get discouraged after learning one too many lessons the hard way.

For more information on the Inventors Blueprintand to access several free videos that can help get you started, check out www.inventorsblueprint.com.

 

Patent aplication software

PowerPatent’s Easy-to-Use Patent Generation Software Helps Businesses Build Patent Portfolio Quickly to Comply with New First-To-File Law

The new America Invents Act imposes first-to-file speed on inventors and business. With PowerPatent workflow solutions, innovative companies are thriving in the first-inventor-to-file era by using an easy-to-use patent generation tool that results in high quality patent applications and quick turnaround.

Capturing all of a company’s intellectual property is mandatory for technology companies. However, in the new first-to-file patent regime, not all companies are set up to address this challenge properly. Businesses looking for next-generation patent workflow systems are turning to PowerPatent’s solutions.

For example, Dr. Phi Nguyen, the founder and CEO of MIBA Medical Inc., used PowerPatent software to build a portfolio of patent applications to economically protect MIBA’s intellectual property. This allowed Dr. Nguyen to quickly file patent applications, and with the cost savings focus his start-up’s tight resources on product development and regulatory issues. Dr. Nguyen noted that:

“I am the founder and CEO of a Silicon Valley medical device company. Before I used “ProvisionalBuilder®,” PowerPatent’s software tool for preparing and submitting a provisional patent application, I felt that giving this task to a patent attorney, waiting for the attorney to complete the application, submitting the application, and then paying the attorney’s $10,000 or more legal bill was the way to go.

“Boy, was I wrong! Using ProvisionalBuilder® saves me a lot of time in preparing patent applications, and my applications are equal to or better in quality than the attorney’s version of my application. Even with a light review of the ProvisionalBuilder® final application by an attorney prior to submitting the application, and figuring in the modest cost of the ProvisionalBuilder software package, my all-in cost of preparing and submitting a provisional patent application is less than 10% of my cost going the patent attorney route. After trying ProvisionalBuilder, I fell in love with the interactivity and flexibility that PowerPatent’s software provided during the process of preparing the patent application.”

“As the patent workflow software leader, PowerPatent is excited to bring ProvisionalBuilder® to innovative companies and inventors,” said Bao Tran, CEO of PowerPatent. “PowerPatent is pleased to see customers thriving in the first-inventor-to-file era with our easy-to-use patent work flow process that results in high quality patent applications and quick turnaround.” http://www.powerpatent.com/provisional-builder

 

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

UIA Board Member Calvin Flowers in the News

 

In the 1990s, Calvin Flowers, now 60, invented the Security Jack, a device that locked a touch-tone telephone. It was designed for parents who wanted to prevent their children from running up long-distance phone bills or using the Internet unsupervised.

Not knowing how to take his idea to market, he hired an invention promotion firm that promised to do all the work for him: evaluate, develop, patent and market his device. “I spent about $10,000, and what I got back was a lot of fluff,” he says.

Eventually, he realized that the only way his invention would ever get out into the world was if he pushed the process forward himself. He hired a patent attorney. He found a manufacturer to prototype and make his product. He formed a company, Tel-Lock Inc., to sell it and took a class to learn how to write a business plan.

Mr. Flowers’ efforts helped him sell almost $1 million worth of Security Jacks in Walgreens and other stores across the country.

These days, as president of the Chicago Inventors Organization, Mr. Flowers counsels entrepreneurs “to be involved in every step of the process” if they don’t want consultants, suppliers, investors or other companies to take advantage of them on the long journey from kitchen-table sketch to store shelf. Learn about the molds and lead times needed to make your product, he urges. “Talk to enough different manufacturers so you learn how to talk their language, and that reduces the rip-off potential because they think you understand what’s going on,” he says.

“In any industry, there are people who, if they see an opportunity to take advantage of someone’s lack of knowledge, will exploit that for short-term gain,” says John Flavin, executive director of Chicago Innovation Mentors, a program for early-stage science ventures founded by the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University and the iBIO Institute/Propel Center, a Chicago-based organization that advises bioscience startups.

“If you are the entrepreneur, you have to peel back the onion and ask, ‘What is in it for them? Can we mutually gain?’ ” he says. “Because you will need help, and you will need to pay for some of that help.”

Invention marketing companies like the one that took Mr. Flowers’ money are still confounding entrepreneurs today. The Federal Trade Commission receives about 600 consumer complaints a year about such firms. Some engage in unscrupulous behavior, like offering contracts that don’t match what their salespeople promise. Others frustrate inventors because their expense often doesn’t pay off.

“You’re buying a service. That doesn’t mean you’re buying success. Inventors need to remember that,” says Nicole Hait, a spokeswoman for InventHelp, a Pittsburgh firm that advertises in the Chicago area. “If the marketplace isn’t interested in a product, we can’t help that.”

The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 requires invention marketing companies to disclose data on their activity over the past five years, including the total number of customers, the number of customers who licensed their inventions through the company’s services and the number of customers who made a net profit from the promoter’s services. A look at those statistics can help an entrepreneur decide if the service is worth its cost.

InventHelp signed submission agreements with 4,671 inventors nationwide from 2010 to 2012, according to its legal disclosures, Ms. Hait says. As a result of the company’s services, 141 clients received license agreements for their ideas and 22 clients received more money than they paid the company.



Beyond invention promotion firms, other dangers abound.

A manufacturer got an edge on Maria Van Hove, 59, a first-time product inventor in Chicago, after she

made the classic rookie mistake of paying the supplier its full fee upfront. “I just loved this guy, I thought we’d work together well, and the price was not bad,” she says. Ms. Van Hove’s invention is Bedframe Booties, padded bundles that slip onto the legs of a bed frame to cushion the blow if you stub your toe. Her contract didn’t stipulate a time frame, and the manufacturer took two and a half years to produce a prototype that matched her specifications. “Finally, I got a decent prototype, I approved it and said, ‘This is perfect, order 1,000,’ ” she recalls. “I got the 1,000, and they were all wrong. And he won’t give me my money back.”

Ms. Van Hove estimates that she has spent about $8,000 on the invention process—including the $4,000 she paid for the defective booties. She’s looking for another manufacturer to produce samples she can take to a home products trade show. She says she’ll be smarter about her contract and pay in installments this time.

She has avoided other pitfalls by finding a mentor through Score, a Herndon, Va.-based nonprofit association that connects entrepreneurs with mentors, usually retired executives. Her adviser was a former patent agent who walked her through the process of obtaining a provisional patent.

MENTOR MAGIC

“Getting really good advisers or mentors on your team can help you avoid mistakes,” says Ellen Rudnick, executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Ilyse Brainin, 48, owner of Zydeco Studios in Riverwoods, credits Discover Games, a Chicago toy and game inventors group, for smoothing the path for her and her husband, Richard Goodman, 48, as they launched Floppets, a line of collectible plastic characters that kids can attach to flip-flops and backpacks or wear as jewelry.



Through the organization, which meets about once a month, Ms. Brainin and Mr. Goodman picked up tips on the commercialization process and learned of companies that are good to work with and those to be avoided. They also met the person who now performs safety testing and certification of Floppets products (testing is required for all children’s products) as well as their current vice president of sales. “He came up with our clamshell tag because he’s a 20-year veteran of toys,” Ms. Brainin says. “We originally had an oval tag and we had the price on the tag, and retailers hated that.”

Last year, Zydeco Studios sold more than 500,000 of the $2 toys, which are manufactured in China, to toy shops, convenience stores, theme parks and custom-order clients. The company recently signed a deal with Major League Baseball to manufacture baseball-themed Floppets and is in negotiations with a U.K. customer for a million-piece order.

Mentors also helped the founders of IntelliWheels Inc., a three-year-old Champaign-based wheelchair development company. Co-founder Marissa Siebel, 32, says her informal advisers talked her and co-founder Scott Daigle out of taking money from the wrong investor group. “It was at a time we really needed money, but the terms were one-sided and not on our side,” she recalls. Still, Ms. Siebel, a Ph.D. candidate in community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Mr. Daigle, a mechanical engineer, were wavering because they didn’t know when another investor would step forward.

IntelliWheels is developing two products: manual and automatic gear-shifting systems that make pushing wheelchairs easier. Mr. Daigle had invented the automatic gear-shifting system in 2008 as part of his master’s thesis at the U of I. Because he created it on campus using university resources, the university owns that invention; the duo negotiated a royalty and development deal with the school’s technology transfer office. (IntelliWheels owns the manual gear-shifting system, which was invented off campus.)

Their U of I mentors advised them that their struggles for funding signaled a piece was missing from their commercialization strategy. “We found out that the really simple products had a code in Medicare that was reimbursable,” Ms. Siebel says. They refocused their efforts on developing a simpler, manual gear-shifting system that could compete in the durable goods business. “Then when we would pitch to potential investors, they started saying, ‘OK, I can see how this could have a revenue stream and be viable,’ “ Ms. Siebel says.

With its refined pitch, IntelliWheels raised about $500,000 in funding from investors. The National Institutes of Health also awarded the company a grant of $164,000. IntelliWheels started selling its Easy Push manual gear-shifting system locally and regionally in January, and the founders plan to use sales and reimbursement data from this soft launch to determine how to expand distribution

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

Newton’s 3rd law of failure…?

As particle “A” exerts a force on particle, “B”, particle “B” simultaneously exerts a force on particle “A” with the same magnitude of force in the opposite direction. This law is often simplified into the sentence, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” – or more scientifically – Newton’s 3rd law of motion.

If we apply a principal well know to inventors – Failure – and one much less know to inventors – Success – to this simple law of physics as Failure = particle “A” and Success = particle “B”. We see there is an undeniable relationship that allows both to exist as a function of each other.

In simple terms….you cannot achieve success without experiencing failure. Many inventors know this all too well. Hours and hours spent tinkering, planning, and thinking often result in failure. But a good inventor understands that what appears to be failure to most people is opportunity to an inventor – a chance to understand, a chance to explore a process, and most importantly a chance to learn.

With this law applied to inventing - Newton is actually telling us that since we have succeeded…we have also failed on an equal level. Failure and success exists dependant on each other in the worlds of both physics and inventing. So we can hypothesize that failure is the catalyst for success…..Failure is in fact, the opportunity that allows you to pursue success.

In the end, it’s unavoidable that we experience both failure and success. So ask yourself – what’s the big deal with failure? Why are we so scared of it? After all, isn’t it just the price of admission to the game of success?

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

PERspeCTiVE…

 
The proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Apple Inc.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prim

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ― William Jennings Bryan

To learn more about the UIA or Mark Reyland check out these links

http://whosthecoward.blogspot.com/2011/09/whos-coward-bashing-mark-reyland.html
http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/independent/aiic_main.jsp
http://www.inventorsdigest.com/archives/7525

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

If you’ve never failed… You’ve never lived

We often hear about going the extra mile. In sports it means work harder, in business it means work longer, but in inventing it could mean many things.

To an innovator, one who is presenting a hypothesis, the extra mile may represent taking the time and effort to prove that hypothesis through the process of inventing. For an inventor, one who has proven hypothesis, the extra mile may mean developing a new product. For both the innovator and inventor the extra mile could at some point mean entrepreneurship.
The common denominator is that at a given point in time to anyone who goes the extra mile it will mean failure.

Although failure and success are often disproportionate – they are always inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. Much like the contrast between light and dark, warm and cold, and tall and short – failure and success are interdependent, for it is failure that provides us the education required to achieve success.


 As inventors the education failure provides is an instrumental part in guiding us to the solution. But to be useful we cannot be scared of it. We must embrace the failure in order to learn from it. We must experience the failures in order to achieve the successes. And in our darkest hours, we must use the gift of failure as the fuel to take us that extra mile.
The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors

I’m searching for something

As inventors we are always searching for something. Like Ponce De Leon, we tell ourselves the fountain of inventing youth is just around the corner if we just keep going.

 But “searching” is a huge word in terms of inventing and it can mean many things. We can search for just the right invention, just the right solution to a problem, or even just the right company to take our great new idea to market.

What we see with new inventors most often are two definitions of the term “Search” and they normally get them mixed up with each other.  Let’s take a quick look at the two most popular forms of searching and make sure we’re doing the right search at the right time.

Product Search and Patent Search are by far the most used search processes in the inventing industry. But they are also the most confusing to new inventors.

A “Product Search” Simply put, is the search for like products.  This is hands down the most important search you can do (Yes patent people, I said it) far more important at the beginning stages than a patent search. (see….I said it again) At the end of the day this is business and if your great new idea is already on the market and doing well, you will need to think long and hard about pursuing it.

Conducting a product search using tools like the internet, catalogs, shopping sites, going to retailers, asking friends and family…. will give you a good sense if the ideas has already been developed and the data you need to make a good decision about moving forward with it.

A “Patent Search” on the other hand is an exercise in protection and courtesy.  You search patents to see if the protection is available should you decide to move forward, and to ensure you show other people the respect of not infringing on the protections they have been granted.

Patent searches have NOTHING to do with the initial indication of commercial viability of a product. They play a very important role in the valuation of an idea, they may even play a role in how you take a product to the market. But they will in no any way give you a sense of viability – and in the initial stages of developing an idea into a product viability is crucial.

Next time you hear and inventor say “well just do a search” or someone say “I did a patent search” think to yourself what kind of search? Because a product search is always the first step, and although important in the process, patent searching falls a bit lower in the process.   

 

The United Inventors Association of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit Educational Foundation dedicated to the education and opportunity of independent inventors