A great inventor resource

We’re inventors, we think outside the box, we dream big, and we see things differently than most people – but we don’t know how to do everything (even know we like to think we do) and for those times when we find ourselves stumped we need places to find the answers.

FH4QRTLO85EZ0R6LDH_LARGEAs an inventor, most of the time we turn to google, or YouTube to find a quick answer for their mental logjam, and most of the time we can find the solution we’re looking for -but not always.

When I can’t find the answer in all the usual places, I turn to my old friend Instructables.

You see, Instructables (http://www.instructables.com/) it’s an open forum about how to do things – step by step instruction posted by a community of people who have experience doing exactly what you’re trying to do.

Take a look at Instructables. You’ll find a lot of creative people and some really cool instructions on how to do everything from making a pie to building a prototype.

Mark Reyland

What kind of graphics do I need?

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.

When it comes to product graphics, just because it’s available doesn’t mean we need them or that when we do, they are telling the right story.

7658298768_e4c2c2635e_bSo 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 they’re what you need. For the vast majority of inventors graphic needs will fall into two main groups of need. Licensing and manufacturing.

All I really want to do is license my invention to a manufacturer, what kind of graphics will I need?

You need a Manufacturer’s Sell Sheet. This simple one sided 8X10 sheet contains a basic illustration of your idea along with some benefit claims and contact information. This form of sell sheet isn’t fancy. It can be printed on your home computer and the illustration can be anything from a simple sketch to a full color rendering, or in some cases even a photograph of your prototype. I recommend you have a template for your sell sheet created by a professional graphics person and then simply cut and paste for each of your inventions.

I want to build a company around my idea and present it to retailer. What are the different types of graphics I’ll need in that process?

Product Illustrations: Early in the process you can use these renderings of your idea in its final form to find investors, or to see how the final product will look, but make sure if you invest in these drawings that they show enough detail to be able to explain the manufacturing processes to a factory.

Glamour Shots: Once your product is retail ready you will need good product photography. We call these glamour shots and use them in the retail sell sheet. It’s a good idea to have a graphics person “place” your image graphically into a retail setting to give the buyer an idea of how it would look in thier store.

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, a basic website, and even a professional sounding name.

 Retailer Sell Sheets: Nothing like the sell sheet used to present an idea to a manufacturer. A retail product sell sheet is traditionally 8.5×11 inches, double sided, glossy. It includes the “Glam Shot” showing your product on the front page. The “Use Shot” showing your product in a store environment on the back page, and of course product information such as display, sizes, and variations.

Product Price Sheets: Most inventors think you put your pricing on the sell sheet, but you don’t. You see prices change and printing high quality sell sheets is expensive. For that reason we use seperate pricing sheets that can be printed on an office printer. 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: You want the retailer to place an order, so you have to give them a way to place the order. This form includes the contact information for both the retailer and the fulfillment company. It also included the payment terms, references, and order volume.  You should understand that in 2015 paper order forms are used primarily by small retailers. Most larger retailers use an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system to place orders. However, you don’t want to lose a sale, so have a good old fashioned paper order form ready for the smaller companies.

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.

Mark Reyland

Quirky’s back…. Here we go again.

Some of you may have noticed that the horribly disfigured inventor model “Quirky” has risen from the ashes of bankruptcy ready to do it all again.

1294075481941472176Minus the not so whiz, whiz kid Ben Kaufman, and the bags of investor money he poured down the drain. Quirky, as it was called, and apparently still is called, has launched a new web site designed to lour the unsuspecting (if not lazy, and a little greedy)inventor into what they promise is a communal and profitable way to take your invention to market.

Well, I have a promise of my own.

I can promise that the model will not work any better than it did the first time, that eventually the investors will fire the person running it, and that if you participate, you will likely lose any intellectual property you have, harm your chances of gaining legitimate licensing deals, and grow very old waiting on those Quirky checks.

Like the dozens of times these companies have attempted in the past, and like their close cousin Edison Nation, these Quirky people will soon arrive at the inevitable.

The model of communal inventing as a process of developing retail products simply doesn’t work. Inventing is not a team sport, and the protections available to the inventor were never designed to function that way.

So – save yourself a lot of trouble and stay away from things like Edison Nation and the new version of the old Quirky. They don’t work, and by the time the idiots running them figure that out, it’s normally too late for the inventors who took the bait.

Ohhh – and look at the stuff they sell in the Quirky online store. Ask yourself how many of those products were once some inventor’s idea they lost to the investors in Quirky’s bankruptcy. Just sayin….

Mark Reyland


Information about a PPA from the USPTO

Provisional Patent Application

A provisional patent application allows you to file without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement.

Since June 8, 1995, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has offered inventors the option of filing a provisional application for patent which was designed to provide a lower-cost first patent filing in the United States and to give U.S. applicants parity with foreign applicants under the GATT Uruguay Round Agreements.

provisionalPatentA provisional application for patent (provisional application) is a U.S. national application filed in the USPTO under 35 U.S.C. §111(b). A provisional application is not required to have a formal patent claim or an oath or declaration. Provisional applications also should not include any information disclosure (prior art) statement since provisional applications are not examined. A provisional application provides the means to establish an early effective filing date in a later filed nonprovisional patent application filed under 35 U.S.C. §111(a). It also allows the term “Patent Pending” to be applied in connection with the description of the invention.

A provisional application for patent has a pendency lasting 12 months from the date the provisional application is filed. The 12-month pendency period cannot be extended. Therefore, an applicant who files a provisional application must file a corresponding nonprovisional application for patent (nonprovisional application) during the 12-month pendency period of the provisional application in order to benefit from the earlier filing of the provisional application. However, a nonprovisional application that was filed more than 12 months after the filing date of the provisional application, but within 14 months after the filing date of the provisional application, may have the benefit of the provisional application restored by filing a grantable petition (including a statement that the delay in filing the nonprovisional application was unintentional and the required petition fee) to restore the benefit under 37 CFR 1.78.

In accordance with 35 U.S.C. §119(e), the corresponding nonprovisional application must contain or be amended to contain a specific reference to the provisional application. For nonprovisional applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in an application data sheet. Further, a claim under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) for the benefit of a prior provisional application must be filed during the pendency of the nonprovisional application, and within four months of the nonprovisional application filing date or within sixteen months of the provisional application filing date (whichever is later). See 37 CFR 1.78.

Once a provisional application is filed, an alternative to filing a corresponding nonprovisional application is to convert the provisional application to a nonprovisional application by filing a grantable petition under 37 C.F.R. 1.53(c)(3) requesting such a conversion within 12 months of the provisional application filing date.

Converting a provisional application into a nonprovisional application (versus filing a nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application) will have a negative impact on patent term. The term of a patent issuing from a nonprovisional application resulting from the conversion of a provisional application will be measured from the original filing date of the provisional application. By filing a provisional application first, and then filing a corresponding nonprovisional application that references the provisional application within the 12-month provisional application pendency period, a patent term endpoint may be extended by as much as 12 months.



Stephanie got it right!

Of course, I get to interact with inventors every day. I also get to hear the down-side of our industry in most of those interactions.

So, when fellow inventor Stephanie Whitmoyer reached out to let me know about her positive experience, well I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

Stephanie1“Hey Mark… Hope your day is well.

I’ve been working with a company on my idea for about 3 months now. At the end of a conference call with them today they gave me the nicest complement! They thanked me for all my in-depth research and said I’ve impressed many fronts. Said it was a pleasure working me and they love working with innovators that think outside the box and who are trying to go about this process in a smart, patient and educated way.

I just thought that was so nice and wanted to share.”

You see, Stephanie is kind of the exception. From the start she’s approached her inventing methodically. Educating herself and ensuring she got as much data as she could before taking the next step.

The result, as you can read from her comments, well, that’s predictable. The industry responded in a positive way. In a way that moved the ball down the field. In a way that gave deep respect to the work and dedication Stephanie has given to learning her craft.

What about you? Are you doing what it takes to learn your craft? or just hoping for someone to come along and make it happen for you?

Great job Stephanie, now all we need is about a million more just like you!

Mark Reyland

OMG they haven’t called yet…..

The inventing process often moves at the rate of a tectonic plate shifting beneath our feet. You know it’s happening, but you can’t always feel it.

Here’s a question from an inventor about the speed of interaction with a prospective manufacturer.

josh_freeds_messydesk_jpeg_size__xxlarge_letterbox-1“I contacted a major company about one of my inventions and they were open to viewing my sell sheet.  I then got a response a few hours later via email that my sell sheet was being forwarded to two other members on the companies hard goods team for their input.  That was a few days ago.  I haven’t gotten any follow-up since.  Is this a bad sign?”

So what’s the answer? In a word – patience.

Picture this: One person standing alone in a house in someplace USA.

Miles away hundreds of people going to work in an office building. They walk in, check their voice mail, look through their email, and start to tackle the mountain of deadlines piled on their desks. All the while, balancing the day’s schedule of meetings, and that never ending dread of picking up little Johnny from school and making it to soccer practice on time.

The inventor in the house has things to do as well, but volumetrically there is no comparison.

Most of the time it’s this imbalance in workloads that is the root of the problem. Often frustrating for inventors, and sometimes unbearable. The fact is your great new invention is just another thing on their pile, and when they dig out from under everything else, they’ll get to it. Don’t take it personally, don’t get upset, don’t let your fears and insecurities drive you crazy. Just relax, and let them do their jobs.

So, Is a few days without hearing anything a bad sign? No. It’s just the pace at which the inventing process often happens – so settle in, this could take awhile.

Mark Reyland

This makes me so sad

Alright, this has nothing to do with inventing, but, it’s a topic I’m equally as passionate about so I have to say something.

I was sitting at my computer this morning and suddenly a notification from Facebook popped up. A belated Father’s Day wish from a very kind man (and longtime reader of this blog) Monte Busser.

Untitled-2“Happy late father’s day Mark. I’m just a step dad but I make sure my step son keep in contact with his real dad.”

Like most people I interact with digitally. I’ve never actually met Monte, but over time I’ve gotten a good sense for what kind of man he is – I know he’s a good man, and frankly his comment made me very sad.

Sad enough in fact that I want to reach out to the readers of this blog, and parents all over the world and voice my opinion.

I hate the word “step” when used in the context of people and families.

On the surface it’s benign, it’s just a little word we use to refer to members of a family structure. The problem is you can’t apply it to the structure without also applying it as a label to some (never all) of the people in the structure. Some will be “step” and other’s won’t.

How does that lend itself to a cohesive family?

It doesn’t. In fact, the sub-text of the word describes people as if they were a separate class. Not just structurally different, but some form of parent or child not quite measuring up to the others. It’s inaccurate, unfair, and hurtful to both parents and children.

You would think with over 1,025,109 words in the English language, surly we can come up with a more positive way to describe those we’ve committed to love.

In my opinion – you’re either a parent or you’re not, they are either your child or their not. There is no middle ground here. We either make the commitment to be the child’s parent, or we don’t – that simple.

So, to my good friend Monte, I say Happy Father’s Day buddy!

Your son is lucky to have you guiding him each day. Lucky to be able to watch your interactions, follow your example and learn how he should become a man – and in my book, that makes you a great Dad.

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