Shame on you Amazon

There will never be a time when retailers like Amazon stop needing new products. That’s a good thing, except for the companies who troll around looking for new products to submit, but in the process end up exploiting the inventors who so eagerly trusted them.

Recently Amazon announced a new program called “Launch Pad” designed to feed the Amazon machine with new retail ready products while giving inventors an accelerated way of getting to market.

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It all sounds like a good thing, until the invention companies known for their “questionable” business practices start to exploit the program for their own good.

With great fanfare Edison Nation announced a nation-wide tour to review new products for Amazon, giving us all the impression that there was a legitimate partnership between the two companies. But is there? The answer is “not really”, at least no more so than the dozens of other companies Amazon let’s into their “network”. (if you would like to join the Amazon network just email them at amazonlaunchpad-network@amazon.com )

So why is Edison Nation peddling their search using the legitimacy of Amazon’s brand? Obviously I don’t know the inner workings of Edison Nation, so what I proffer here is theory and opinion based on years of watching them interact with inventors. But here’s what I think.

Like most struggling companies Edison Nation is clearly feeling the pain of a business model that doesn’t work, having laid off a % of their workforce in the last few months, this search presents an opportunity for good press, and a look of stability for their investors.

Edison Nation sells development services to inventors through their Enventeys company. Knowing most of the items bound for Amazon will not be retail ready, this is likely more a feeder effort for their development company and their submission contest.

Most inventors don’t have the money to develop products. So Edison Nation has announced a new 50 million dollar “pledge” for this project. What “pledge” generally means in a situation like this is they have worked out a deal with companies willing to, under the right conditions, lend the inventor money to pay Edison Nation to develop the product to present to Amazon. You may want to read the ultra fine print before using this service…just sayin.

Remember, Edison Nation, and its founder Louis Foreman have a long history of “acquiring” inventor patents to build their portfolio. If Edison Nation does find a retail ready product from an inventor, will they simply pass it to Amazon? or will they lock the inventor into their normal relationship contract – you know, the one that allows them to own your patent and become your power of attorney as stated in Exhibit A part 1c of the agreement they make you sign.  (http://www.edisonnation.com/documents/innovator-agreement )

Whether it’s Edison Nation or some other company, in the end what really matters is that inventors are presented legitimate opportunities to sell their products on Amazon without being exploited.

The fact is you don’t need questionable companies to get you to Amazon. What you need is a good retail ready product and enough time in your busy schedule to fill out the submission application – here’s the link. http://www.amazon.com/gp/launchpad/signup/form

I really want to believe Amazon isn’t intentionally feeding inventors into the jaws of exploitation. But the performance of these companies, and their reputation in our community is not exactly a state secret.

Maybe Amazon knows about their business practices and partnered anyway. Or maybe they just didn’t do their homework before lending companies the credibility of their brand to help draw you in – either way – shame on you Amazon.

Mark Reyland

Patents… How it all started

As an inventor you know your invention may be protectable under US Patent law. But did you know the protection for your invention started in the Constitution? Probably not, but as you can see from this account of how it all started our patent system took some getting used to.

“Congress shall have the power…to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” – U.S. Constitution Article 1. Section 8.

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Armed with the power of the Constitution – On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the bill which laid the foundations of the modern American patent system.

The U.S. patent system was unique; for the first time in history the intrinsic right of an inventor to profit from his/her invention was recognized, and protected by law.

Previously, there had been no such “system” for the granting of rights to an inventor. Privileges, as they were called at the time, were dependent upon the prerogative of a monarch or upon a special act of a legislature.

That all changed in 1790, when Samuel Hopkins was granted the first U.S. patent, for an improvement in the making of potash. The reviewer of this patent was Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State, and himself an avid inventor.

After reviewing Hopkin’s application, Jefferson passed the document to the Secretary of War for his review and then obtained signatures from the Attorney General and, finally, from President Washington – initiating a process that would become larger than the Founding Fathers had ever imagined. During that first year, Jefferson received two more patent applications, both of which were granted after due deliberation and signature-collecting.

For as little as four dollars, American inventors could seek patent protection for their inventions under provisions of the Act of 1790 – and that’s exactly what they did.

Less than a year later, sometime during 1791, as he scrutinized models and sorted through stacks of designs, Jefferson realized that patent-examining was too much work for busy Cabinet members. Jefferson found himself overwhelmed by an outpouring of American inventiveness – so by 1793, patent examining duties had been reassigned to a State Department clerk, until the Patent Office was formed in 1802.

The process that had started so modestly in 1790 remained largely unchanged until the Patent Act of July 4, 1836 when patents previously issued by name and date were now issued by number.

By 1836 the Patent Office had already issued nearly 10,000 patents, when a fire destroyed many of the original records in December of that year.

Using private files, the office was able to restore 2,845 patents. The restored records were issued a number beginning with an “X” and called the “X-Patents.” Thus the first patent ever issued was actually designated patent X1 and today remains in the USPTO archives.

Unfortunately, the over 7000 patents that could not be restored were cancelled and lost forever.

As you can see, the issuance of US Patents remains an important part of history – and although many inventors assume it’s the first step on their journey, it’s not. In fact, 245 years later the patent process for most independent inventors has become far less important a step to commercialization than it once was.

Mark Reyland

Inventor and family die in plane crash

Inventor and family die in plane crash isn’t the headline we want to read about you one day. Let me explain.

Several years back I was taking private pilot lessons. I went to the airport on my first day, met my instructor and he walked me around the airplane pointing out the less obvious parts …like the wings.

After a thorough tour of every nut and bolt on the plane we finally climbed into the cockpit and took off. We flew around for my one hour flight, and we landed without incident.

Taxing back to the ramp, I posed the following question:Untitled-1

Have you ever been here before? With a brand new student, you just finished your first lesson, you’re taxing back to the ramp, suddenly you look across the cockpit at your student, and almost without thinking say…..You should buy a boat. As I suspected, he had.

Let’s face facts, not everyone should be flying an airplane. It takes a special set of skills, it takes a commitment to maintaining those skills, a sense of responsibility for the passengers, and a keen understanding that when you screw up , people may die.

While inventing isn’t quite that dramatic, there is one piece of very common ground. Not everyone should be doing it.

We see new inventors all the time climb into the cockpit without an instructor. They pour in the fuel of hope and quickly fire up the engine of creativity. It’s not long before they taxi down to the runway, open up the throttle of excitement and before you know it they’ve left the ground.

That’s actually the easy part.

Once you start to gain altitude the risk starts to increase dramatically and the skills needed to develop, commercialize, and sell your invention are often far greater than you possess.

In the excitement of jumping into the plane you never thought about how you are going to get back down, so you fly aimlessly around until you either run out of money or you make a wrong move and crash.

Either way, it’s not the joy ride you envisioned when you so excitedly jumped into the cockpit. The reality is, inventing is a bumpy ride in the best of weather – and like flying an airplane, it often looks much easier than it really is.

If you don’t take the time to prepare yourself, and you don’t think long and hard about how you’re going to land. The chances are you are going to crash – and when you do, look in the back seat, that’s your family back there – because whether you intended to or not, you took them along for the ride.

Mark Reyland

Seven FREE Inventor Videos you must see

Many inventors want to know what to do when they have that great idea. That’s understandable, you’re in a new area, you’re excited, and you watch way too much Shark Tank.videopic

The reality is, inventing retail products is a lot more than having your friends and family tell you how smart you are. It’s hard work building the distribution channel between the factory and the store, and even harder work understanding what makes a good product in the first place.

Let’s face it – most inventor products suck. Okay, that sounds harsh, and maybe it is – but it’s true. The ideas may be good, but the development of that idea into a commercially viable product lacks an understanding of basic consumer purchasing.

To fix this problem, I’ve created a set of 7 short (less than 5 minutes each) videos that explain the basic inventor tools used in developing a product. These aren’t scientific off course, they are practical mechanisms, that when applied, will help you mold your idea into a retail viable consumer product.

Video 1 = How consumers purchase

Video 2 = The Intrinsic Values of a product

Video 3 = The impact of color on your product

Video 4 = The Benefits -vs – Detriments of a product

Video 5 = The Consumer Use Cycle

Video 6 = Work Arounds, the reason not to purchase

Video 7 = Calculating the Product Value Index

I spent many years using these same tools to bring products to market, and twice as many years watching inventors lose everything they had trying to develop undevelopable products.

Please, take time to educate yourself, and to tell others who may need that same education about these free resources. Simply click on the video title above, or go to the Daily Inventor Education Blog YouTube Channel and select the video you want to watch. It’s fast, it’s simple, and like all the Inventor Education Blog information – it’s FREE!

Oh, by the way, your family called. They wanted me to remind you that you’re spending the family’s money on this idea, so the least you can do is get educated. …that, and pick up some milk on the way home.

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Mark Reyland

After all, Inventors have options

I recently read this posting from an inventor who was licensing his product. He doesn’t know it, but what he’s describing actually has a name. It’s called an “option”, and it’s a tool some professional inventors use, and more novice inventors should use.

Wow-You-got-it___a-great-idea“I have a company that has expressed some initial interest in a product design (invention) of mine. After a few months with no follow up, I approached one of their competitors which also expressed some interest, but in good faith has asked that the first company pass before I move forward.

I emailed the first company letting them know and they now would like to license my product design for no more than 60 days to do some research and testing. If I take the agreement for the short term licensing, it would prevent me from pursuing other companies, including the other one already intrigued.

No actual product would be sold, but I feel that I should be getting something in the form of compensation”

A licensing deal is basically a rental agreement, and an option is simply a short-term rental agreement.

What if the company likes your idea but they need time to do research, or to look at their bigger picture and figure out if the product is right for them? Most inventors will simply let them and nervously wait until they call – but smart inventors will use an option.

An option allows the company to obtain a short term rental of the idea while they figure things out. While the sum and the amount of time for that rental will vary, the most popular option amount used in inventing is $10,000 for 3 months – and it’s always paid up front.

During the option period you are agreeing not to present the invention to any other company or enter into any other agreements. That means if someone else comes along with a big bag of money and tries to license your invention you have to say no until your option period is over.

While you are always able to walk away at the end of the option period – most of the time when the option is over the company will either sign the license agreement, pass on the invention, or extend the option.

Options are used all the time in the music industry, with Books and movies, but for some reason inventors never think about using an option with an invention.

It’s pretty simple really. Remember the guy with the big bag of money you turned away? That lost opportunity and your time are worth money.

So the next time a company says they love your idea but it’s going to take them several months to do their research – simply tell them the invention is available for optioning, and you’re happy to discuss the terms with them.

After all, why lend your invention to them when you can rent it.

Mark Reyland

This is one very cool invention

This is one very cool invention.

We see them all the time – great ideas people come up with for solving problems that then get turned into great products.

Many times these great ideas are born from the frustration of everyday life, mixed with a bit of experience and education. The result ranges from very simple solutions to much more complex solutions depending on the background of the inventor.

This video is an example of a great solution turned unto a great product developed by someone who obviously had a significant background and education in chemistry.

Don’t get frustrated when you see these complex products being developed and compare them to your more simplistic efforts. You are the norm, not them, and while your contribution may not be the chemistry behind this hydrophobic concoction – it very well could be an application for it that only you envision.

Mark Reyland

Is Inventorz Network just selling inventor trust?

So here’s the deal – As inventors we’re hounded almost daily by people wanting to sell us things, and one of the easiest things to sell an inventor is frankly “expertise”

That said, if it’s real expertise it’s probably worth buying. Unfortunately most of it isn’t real, and most of it isn’t worth much – however, those making money are hoping that you as a novice inventor simply don’t know any better.Approved

Did you ever wonder how those “experts” came to be experts? Well, here’s how most of them do it.

This is an email I received recently from a group called Inventorz Network. I’ve seen this group, who started out great, slide so far down the mountain over the last few years that I doubt they will ever be a reputable member of our industry again – sad – but that’s another story.

The email is what we call “Trolling”. They’re sending emails to people they find on the internet, people they don’t even, know offering to brand them as “experts” to their membership – for just $500.00 a year.

Dear Mr. Reyland

Create Your Expert Listing Today Join the Inventorz Network today and create your Expert profile to connect with inventorz nationally who need your services…. …..After you become an Expert Member of Inventorz Network, you can then put together an article about a subject relevant to the inventor industry and your service/business in roughly 2,000 words.

Please remember the idea is to show how you, the Expert, can provide support for the Inventors. Our online magazine receives a lot of traffic, so this will be nice, long-term advertising for your business while you’re featured in the Expert Pavilion. Thank you for your time.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Elizabeth D

As you can see, they don’t actually care if I’m an expert or not. They aren’t interested in what makes me an expert, in fact, they never even ask. If I give them $500.00 a year, they’re happy to exploit the trust of their members and feed them to me one at a time – where I’m free to say, do, and charge whatever I like.

At least now we know the credibility of Inventorz Network is for sale, and it’s only $500.00 a year!

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t all about Inventorz Network. This is about a problem in our industry that you may not know we have – and that unless you know what happens behind the curtain, you stand a very good chance of getting advice from an “expert” who purchased that title from a group claiming to be helping you.

Mark Reyland

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