I’m getting divorced

What?…. you want a Divorce?

Unfortunately divorce can happen in any relationship…..even Inventing – let me explain.

SONY DSCHere you are, sitting around the den with a couple of friends on a Friday night and talk turns to some problem one of you has been experiencing. Maybe it’s a car issues, or a laundry issue, or whatever.

Suddenly someone says “Wow – what if we invented one of …..” The discussion gets animated, you get excited, they get excited, and before you know it you have the paper and pens out. You start brainstorming – designing this new idea. They’re throwing concepts around, you’re throwing concepts around – the night goes on like this for hours and by the end you’re partners in a new “Invention” ….How exciting!

Exciting, that is, until you find out this person is a great friend, awesome drinking buddy, but a really bad business partner. At that point you will inevitably wish you had dialed back the excitement, but down the beer, and taken the time to craft some form of agreement.

You sometimes see these kinds of contracts euphemistically called “divorce papers”…because essentially that’s what they are. They set out the terms of the divorce up front in the event the relationship deteriorates – and sadly they almost always do.

The agreement does not have to be anything elaborate, just a simple letter contract stating who initially came up with the idea, what each party is going to contribute to the process of taking the idea to market. and an outline of what happens when things don’t work out so well.

In fact – one of the first things companies look for when licensing a product from an inventor are these “loose ends” that may be floating around. Most companies will tell the inventor it is their responsibility to get letters from others who may have been involved or sign indemnifications swearing there are no unaddressed claims of ownership to the invention.

If there ends up being someone who causes a legal battle with the manufacturer later on, and the inventor never disclosed that person – Safe bet you will find yourself in court on the wrong end of a law suit seeking the manufacturer’s investment back with damages.

Mark Reyland

Inventor receives 73 Million in back royalties

The Atlanta-based company behind the Super Soaker water gun and Nerf toy guns has been awarded nearly $73 million in royalties from toymaker Hasbro Inc., according to the law firm King & Spalding.

Johnson Research and Development Co. and founder Lonnie Johnson have been in a royalty dispute with Hasbro since February, when the company filed a claim against the giant toy company. According to King & Spalding, which along with the A. Leigh Baier P.C. law firm represented Johnson, Hasbro underpaid royalties for the Nerf line toys from 2007 to 2012.

vbvcb“In the arbitration we got everything we asked for,” said Atlanta attorney Leigh Baier. “The arbitrator ruled totally in Lonnie’s favor.” The attorney also said Johnson “is very pleased” with the outcome.

Johnson could not be reached for comment Wednesday, nor could Pawtucket, RI.-based Hasbro.
The arbitration agreement resolves a 2001 inventors dispute in which Hasbro agreed to pay Johnson royalties for products covered by his Nerf line of toys, specifically the N-Strike and Dart Tag brands, King & Spalding attorney Ben Easterlin said.

In a separate breach of contract suit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta in February, Johnson accuses Hasbro of violating a 1996 agreement to pay him Super Soaker royalties of 2 percent for “three-dimensional products” based on the appearance of the toy and 1 percent for “two-dimensional visual representations.”

The suit says Hasbro sold water guns that were “visually similar and based upon the appearance of Super Soaker water guns that incorporate Johnson’s technology.” Johnson also wanted the court to force Hasbro to open its books to determine sales of Super Soaker products from 2006 to 2012.

Johnson, a nuclear engineer, Tuskegee University Ph.D. and former NASA scientist, founded his company in 1989. It was the same year he first licensed the Super Soaker, which generated more than $200 million in retail sales two years later, the company said. The toy was licensed to Larami Corp., which was later purchased by Hasbro.

Johnson holds more than 80 patents, with more than 20 pending, the company said, which said sales of the Super Soaker have approached nearly $1 billion.

As an Alabama high school senior, Johnson finished building a remote-controlled robot with a reel-to-reel tape player for a brain and jukebox solenoids controlling its pneumatic limbs, according to a 2008 profile in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

After graduating from Tuskegee he joined the Air Force, worked at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Sandia, worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab on the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Mars Observer project, among others. He also helped design the Cassini robot probe that flew 740 million miles to Saturn.

He moved to Atlanta in 1990 before his Super Soaker invention made him wealthy. His inventions have included rechargeable battery technology and thermodynamic energy conversion technology.


Most inventors have nothing


I’m a guy who helps inventors. Being a guy who helps inventors you can imagine most of the conversations I have with people I meet start off just like this cartoon. “I have a …..”.

An exuberant, almost animated fountain of enthusiasm excited to tell me (or anyone who will listen) all about their life changing, world tilting, money printing idea for a new product.

Much like this cartoon, most of those conversations evolve very quickly into the long list of things the inventor needs (or at least thinks they need) to ensure this whirlwind of sudden success – and you guessed it again, although I learned long ago to be gentle about expressing it, in my mind I’m thinking the same thing – what you have is really nothing.

Okay, before you throw yourself off a shoebox thinking, Oh my god, when I talked to Mark was he thinking that about my idea? No big mystery there – I probably was – but that’s okay.

You see, this is how we learn to be inventors. We take the opinions of others and combine them into a stew of experience. Each opinion, each crumb of knowledge a single ingredient into what at the end of a lifetime of inventing should serve up to be a might tasty meal of success.

So keep cooking people…. you may have nothing now, but one day, some day, you’ll have everything!

Mark Reyland

Who invented the wheel anyway?

innovation (a theory or idea) and Inventing (proof of a theory or idea) are often evolutionary processes. Many well know inventions like the telephone, the automobile, and the light bulb have all taken on changes as they adapt to the times and the effect of other technologies -the wheel is no different.

According to archaeologists, the wheel was probably invented around 8,000 B.C. in Asia. The oldest wheel known however, was discovered in Mesopotamia and probably dates back to 3,500 B.C.

This wheel was believed to have been made by the Sumerians. It was made of planks of wood joined together. The picture below briefly describes the stages of development of the wheel.

Stage one: Early men placed rollers beneath heavy objects so that they could be moved easily.

Stage two: Early men began to place runners under a heavy load, which they discovered would make it easier for the load to drag. This was the invention of the sledge.

Stage three: Men began to combine the roller and the sledge. As the sledge moved forward over the first roller, a second roller was placed under the front end to carry the load when it moved off the first roller. A model of a sledge with such rollers is in the Smithsonian Institution.

Stage four: Soon, men discovered that the rollers which carried the sledge became grooved with use. They soon discovered that these deep grooves actually allowed the sledge to advance a greater distance before the next roller was needed to come on!

Thus, in Stage five: The rollers were changed into wheels. In the process of doing so, wood between the grooves of the roller were cut away to form an axle and wooden pegs were fastened to the runners on each side of the axle. When the wheels turn, the axle turned too in the space between the pegs. The first wooden cart was thus made.

Stage six: A slight improvement was made to the cart. This time, instead of using pegs to join the wheels to the axle, holes for the axle were drilled through the frame of the cart. Axle and wheels were now made separately.

The wheel was furthered improved on later by the Egyptians, who made wheels with spokes, which could be found on Egyptian chariots of around 2000 BC. Over in Ancient India, chariots with spoked wheels dating back to around 1500 B.C. were also discovered. The Greeks too, adopted the idea of wheel-making from the Egyptians and made further improvements to it. Later, during the time of the Roman Empire, the Romans too engaged themselves in wheel-making and produced the greatest variety of wheeled vehicles – Including chariots for war, hunting, and racing, two-wheeled farm carts, covered carriages, heavy four-wheeled freight wagons and passenger coaches.

Mark Reyland

You never know who’s using your invention

Q-bitz creator Peggy Brown explains why you need to be a little nuts to be a professional game inventor.

I’m a professional game inventor, a career choice that’s not for the squeamish nor faint of heart. It actually requires being certifiably nuts.

To put it into a certifiable nutshell, I work on whims and hunches, unpaid and at my own expense, on the microscopic sliver of an imagined possibility that I might be able to talk somebody with wherewithal into taking my weenie-widget (or whatever), backing it with big bucks and serving it up to the masses, and after all that, blow a little decimal dust my way.

It’s a lottery, and like they say, “You can’t win it if you don’t get in it,” but as they never say, “Getting in it has zip-squat-cipher to do with how you win it.”

71h1PsXlyqL__SX425_As a professional inventor, I know that in order to continue to be a professional inventor (who doesn’t live in a refrigerator box under I-94), I have to create items that fill a need in the marketplace.

Items that can be manufactured and sold for a price the market will bear, and that will appeal to the broadest audience possible, starting with toy company executives and moving down the food chain to hopefully clear the myriad of hurdles on the way toward the eventual consumer.

It’s a precarious path, pocked with perilous pitfalls and perched on the precipice of something particularly horrible starting with P that I can’t think of right now.

After many years, a sprinkling of invention successes, and many, many, many (did I say many?) many more failures, I’ve learned that once in a while, even a blind squirrel finds a nut, and I must declare that I have found a certifiable nut.

Turns out that the American America’s Cup Sailing Team, a.k.a. Team Oracle, plays a game I invented, in order to keep their brains from scrambling when they’re physically pooped from hoisting jibs and weighing anchors (those are two of the only three sailing terms I know).

They play Q-bitz to develop and strengthen their mental acuity in the middle of their grueling training sessions so they don’t keel over (that’s the third one) during the big race. The big America’s Cup race. Yeah. The America’s Cup race that the whole world watches. Uh-huh. That America’s Cup.

These world-class athletes train by swinging kettle bells the size of hippos while running across bouncy nets, and by doing sit-ups by the millions and balancing like ballerinas on tightropes, and while this description may be slightly exaggerated, they pump iron until they get practically delirious, and then, with sweat dripping off their noses, (this next part involves no exaggeration) they scoot over to the table and play Q-bitz.

They’re strapped with scads of high-tech gadgets that monitor their vitals and dissect every component of their elite athletic performance, they work out to the Nth degree, and then they drop their dumbbells and scamper over to the game table for a quick round of Q-bitz. Can you believe it?!? They play my game! And it trains them to stay sharp and focused. It builds their brain power under incredible physical duress. And they used it to train for the America’s Cup race this year, and guess what? They won! Woooooohoooo! USA! USA! USA!

So, clearly, the transitive property of Q-bitz, which Pythagoras could only have wished to think up, proves that Q-bitz is good for brains everywhere, whether it’s played between push-ups and planks, or on the porch with peanuts and Mr. Pibb.

It’s a game that levels the playing field for players of a great range of ages, levels of education and genders (okay – there is probably not a great range of genders, but you know what I mean).

Q-bitz is simultaneously a race, a puzzle, and a work of art. It’s thinky in its simplicity and simple in its complexitude. It’s elegant and tactile and visual and has hardly any rules. It could be played between four players that speak four different languages, and nobody would have any discernable advantage.

Playing Q-bitz makes you feel spatial. And whether you’re one of the best sailors in the world or not, everybody deserves to feel spatial.

Originally posted on http://www.toynews-online.biz/opinion/read/diary-of-an-inventor-peggy-brown-and-q-bitz/042136

Mark Reyland

I really have nothing to complain about

2cb6ed1ca0f8b348d280fe5f14ff2695As inventors we often face what feels like a never ending flow of frustration. That feeling of overwhelming dred that washes over us as we attempt to harness the torrent of ideas in our minds.

Well, the mind is a powerful place, and all you have to do is meet Paul Smith to understand that locked away in every mind is a focusable talent looking for a way out.

Paul Smith suffers from cerebral palsy. No one believed that he would survive long enough to learn anything as a child. It took 16 years until he could speak and just as long until he could finally walk.

Paul has spent the last 48 years living a quiet life at the Rosehaven nursing home. Where no one could have ever imagined he, an illiterate, would create wonders with a typewriter. These wonders the like of which, no one else has ever created.

Take a moment and watch the story of Paul Smith, a man who found a way to let the creativity out of a very broken mind.

The consideration of a retail display

I’m working on a project at the moment getting a client’s product ready for retail this spring. One particular set of tasks that have to be done is to design displays so the product can be sold in stores.

I’m a big advocate of bringing your own shelf, especially when the product is being put in for the first time – but bringing your own shelf means designing your own shelf, and that means making sure you have all the proper pieces in place.

GFDisplaySo let’s take a look at a display I just designed for this client. I’ll point out some of the issues we need to consider as you bring that vision in your mind into focus.

First, this is called a “Floor Shipper”. The display itself is constructed of corrugated cardboard and comes to the retailer pre-packed with product. Which leads us to our first of three prime consideration.

Volume: Your display must be designed in such a way that it holds enough product to justify the cost of the display. The equation is simple. Take the cost of the display (say $7.00) and divide it by the number of units in the display (say 48) and you come up with 14.5 cents. Now that you know the “display burden” you have to add 14.5 cents to the cost of each unit to cover the cost of the display.

Messaging: Obviously an important part of any display, it’s important that when you develop messaging for a display you keep in mind the hierarchy of the messages. For example. Most inventors think the name (or even worse the company) are the key message for a product – but they’re not. You see, benefits sell products not brands (unless you’re Disney) so the display has to highlight each of the major benefits the product will be offering the consumer.

Style: There are literally hundreds of display styles to choose from. The trick is to select a display style that works well for the physicality of your product. At the same time it must be acceptable to the widest range of retailers. I personally start every project by going to POP Online (http://www.popon.net/Point-of-Purchase-Display-Gallery-Search.asp) and weeding through display styles I think may work for that particular product. What you’re looking for is the dimensional considerations, but also a design that lends itself well to the story you have to tell the consumer.

As you can see, there are a lot of considerations in selecting a display for your product. Don’t let it overwhelm you, just apply these things in logical terms to your product, and eventually you’ll start to focus on something that works for you.

Mark Reyland

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