Patent Prophets or Profits?

December 19, 2013

by Michael Noll, CEO, Lightning Launch, LLC.

 

If you understand this, you’ll start making money not wasting it!
 
Every day we look at mediocre ideas with thousands of dollars worth of Intellectual Property ‘protecting’ them.  If fact, some of the worst ideas are the best protected (if you come up with a bad idea, it’s generally easier to get some good IP around it!). 
 
Most companies that market their services to inventors aren’t focused on the quality of the invention nearly as much as they are on selling all sorts of things to the inventor.   If you don’t believe this, try submitting what you know is a really bad idea and see if their response is any different than when you send them your very best stuff.  Walk any trade show and you’ll see booth after booth of products that have little potential – unfortunately, the show promoter will be the only guy with a smile on his face when it’s time to pack up and go home.  Search the USPTO database and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of ideas that never made anyone a dime save for the attorneys that did the patent work.
 
When you apply for a utility patent, you complete a form that might have you believing that you’ve just secured the rights to something very valuable – unfortunately, that’s almost never the case!  Assuming that you’re able to fund the process of actually obtaining the patent (not just filing the provisional application), and that the examiner finds no conflicts with any of the other millions of patents that already exist, you’ll wind up with a piece of paper that serves purely as your license to spend a lot of money chasing someone with a lot more money, for a very long time, in hopes of ultimately getting a little bit of money that they probably won’t actually` have by the time it all gets sorted out.  In the process, by the way, several lawyers will make a LOT of money – that’s the ONLY thing you can be certain of.
 
Most inventors gravitate to the patent process because having a patent, or even the act of applying for one, lends credibility to what they’re doing.  It’s also a hell of a lot easier to apply for a patent than it is to get a meeting with WalMart!  Successful inventors, those that have been through the mill and come out the other side with a few good ideas still left in them (and hopefully a few bucks still left in their bank account!), are much more focused on finding a good partner who can give them the critically important ‘First Big Mover’ advantage.  There isn’t a patent in the world that can compare to that! 
 
The next time you talk to a patent attorney, suggest that, since they’re so enamored with your invention, they prepare the documents and pay the filing fee for HALF of what you’ll make when you market the idea.  Suddenly, I predict they won’t like it all that much!      

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