Case 1309: This is the second installment of “How to make Profit from Your Patent”.


Case 1309: This is the second installment of “How to make Profit from Your Patent”.

On Monday September 9th I described the on-going frustration of 99% inventors who successfully obtained patent or two, and cannot make any profit by selling or licensing. It costs some money to get your idea “patent searched”, and obtain a representation with an intellectual property attorney and proceed to apply for a patent. If all goes well, you will have a patent in a few years. And now what? That was the crux of September 9th column.


A biologist specializing in the wild salmon population in the American Northeast once told me that a female salmon would produce and lay some 250,000 eggs. If about 40 out of 250,000 would become adult, the species are considered healthy and successful. My memory is somewhat faded, so please don’t quote me for accuracy. But, the ratio, 1.6 out of 10,000, isn’t all that different from the number of successful and profitable patent out of all that inventions.


Do I sound very pessimistic? Do I sound very discouraging? Yes to the two questions. The reason why there are so many disappointing patents and intellectual property owners is quite analogous to what happens to the 250,000 salmon’s roe. The environment the roe would face the moment they are discharged from the mother is extremely hostile. It is teeming with natural enemies. Roe is a highly nutritious food, and fish clamor to eat them. When they hatch and become infantile fish, they are chased and devoured by larger fish. Only lucky ones would survive by chance. However obviously that is the strategy of the salmon species to start with a huge number of roe to end up at the proper number for the survival of the species. They have been doing this for millions of years with no problems.


Well, the ecology of intellectual property is very similar in terms of its environment being very hostile. In this case inventors are definitely on the short end of stick. Let me go through the process of an amateur inventor having a concept of an invention. Let’s also assume that he/she has an idea of solution to a problem that plagues many people, or so he/she thinks.  The amateur inventor even has properly written up the concept in the notebook.


At this juncture the inventor has a choice of :


  • Go to a reputable intellectual property attorney and request “search for the prior arts – meaning “has somebody gotten there first?”
  • Get to one of those on-line “invention assistance” outfits and pay a fixed fee so that they would attempt to sell your invention or license it.
  • Do everything yourself. First build a prototype, and try to show it to potential buyers or licensers.
  • Do nothing.


If you choose 1), then the search would bring an accurate result. If someone had beaten you to it, then you can drop the idea and lick your wound. Advantage of this choice is that there wouldn’t be more expense.


If you choose 2), the process of “selling” your invention to potential buyers or licensees is a murky and invisible one. You have no idea just what happens in that process. These outfits charge you upward of $4,000.00 with no guaranty of success. When the outfit tells you that they found no buyers or licensees, you just have to accept the result. On the other hand, it might be just possible that the outfit succeeds in selling your invention to marketers like Wal-Mart. At least that is implied in their websites.


If you choose 3) this will be a time consuming process.   You have to build a prototype, and show it to various marketers by yourself. Take pictures and send them around. In the process you’d learn a lot, but the doubt remains it is worth the effort for your time, travel cost and other expenses.


Case 1309 “ Profit from Patent” continues to next Monday.


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