Structuring a Partnership Agreement

Inventors often need to consider partnership, sometimes for funding the invention, other times to get the expertise required to have a partner who can make the prototype, and often just so the partners can offer each other emotional support.  But a lot can go wrong with a partnership as people promise to do certain thing and then fail to perform.  I feel it useful to prepare a simple Memorandum of Understanding when you are considering a partnership of some sort just so each party can be clear on what the other party is doing.  Here is a sample of what an agreement would look like.  Each agreement you prepare will have differences but they should have certain key elements including who is investing what amount of money, what the duties of each party are, how much time people are committing to the project and some sort of performance guarantee. [Read more...]

Could Your Product Work as a Service Business?

Licensing, selling through the Internet, selling to big box retailers and a few other options are the ways most inventors and entrepreneurs dream of selling their products, but there are many other ways to sell your product. In this article we will discuss an often overlooked option for inventors: starting a service business.

[Read more...]

Selling Through Home Shopping Networks

Home Shopping Networks, including QVC and Home Shopping Network, are often ideal spots for inventors starting to sell their product. Shopping networks like to sell products that aren’t available widely in stores, they take smaller quantities than major retailers, but still large enough quantities to justify investments in tooling and packaging, and selling on shopping networks is a much better option to build market momentum than trying to line up a large number of smaller retailers. The shopping networks create enough demand that some companies only sell to the shopping networks, and it is possible to be carried on the networks for years, but they won’t sell enough for you to become a substantial company. Your best choice of action is to sell through the shopping networks to build momentum, and then use the success in those markets to generate a wider distribution network. [Read more...]

Improve Your Business or Product Image

by Josh Wallace

May is International Business Image Improvement Month.  Is your business or product’s image stale, tired or out-of-touch with your target customers?  Try a makeoever!

Makeovers have become a popular trend with people because they like the idea of reinventing themselves and the attention they gain from the experience. The same concept can also be applied to your company and/or products. You could rework your current logo into a more modern, professional symbol. You could update your brochures, promotional and marketing materials with a new look, focus or attitude. Or you could come up with a brand new, unique ad campaign to put yourself in a different light. There are many possibilities and any route is going to generate interest.

Corporations get makeovers all the time. This process is called rebranding. A brand is the overall experience and association with a company, its products and/or services—it’s the identity that makes the company stand out. The central point of most brands is the logo, which can sometimes even become the reason why people spend their money on certain products. Logos never stay the same over their lifespan. Companies need to progress with time and with their marketing focus. Here are a few examples.

logo evolutions

logo evolutions

[Read more...]

What to Do if You Have No Money to Develop Your Product

Inventors often have more ideas than money. The result is that inventors have a tough time figuring out just how to proceed. One option most inventors don’t often consider is selling on commission. An inventor gets orders for his or her product and then has a manufacturer make the product. But instead of a license agreement, the inventor just becomes the sales rep and takes a commission. The inventor may have to surrender control of the idea, especially if the development costs are high, but they often still have a great deal of input and they can usually negotiate a long term commission agreement. This is often an easier deal for the manufacturer to accept and in the end the inventor makes more money at a 10% commission rather than a three to five percent royalty. The whole secret of success is land a big order, then manufacturers will be interested in talking to you, provided the product fits within their manufacturing capability. The benefit to the inventor is that he or she is selling the product with the backing of an established company. That backing both enhances the inventor’s credibility and provides the funding needed to launch the product. [Read more...]

How to Create Winning Packaging for Your New Product

Basic Steps Toward Branding through Package Design

Run a couple package design web searches and you’ll see this phrase repeatedly: “Packaging is just as important as the product.” It’s almost common sense, really. Some even go as far as saying, “The package is the product.” That may be bold, but nonetheless, packaging plays a tremendous role in selling your product—it’s the last chance (or maybe even the first chance) to advertise just before consumers make a purchase and studies have shown that most people make brand choices at the point of purchase. Spend the time researching packaging while thinking carefully about your audience and the stores you’ll be featured in and brand your product accordingly. Bring a designer into the picture early on and he/ she will help the package design solutions develop from the information and ideas that have gathered. [Read more...]

How to Sell Your Product through Convenience Stores

Article also includes:

  • Description of various organizations typically found in an inventor’s distribution channel.
  • Explanation of how to find a distribution channel for your product.

Many inventors have small novelty products where they want their products sold to convenience stores. This has been a difficult market for inventors because the distributors are typically rack jobbers who actually own the merchandise and buy at 40 to 45% of retail. The distributors can be hard to find as they don’t have a Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) dedicated to them, and most operate on the office supplies distributor SIC code. (For more information on SIC codes go to [Read more...]

Old Product Areas Ripe for Invention

Inventors often look at big new ideas with big needs but sometimes you can find a way to create a product idea in an old category and have some success.  I live in Minnesota and some years ago I started seeing many people with the new style of ear muffs that wrap around the back of the head, the 180s, They look great. Most people don’t realize this high style line was originally put out by a couple of inventors. You don’t need a high tech product, or even a product that is hard to make. Hopefully this story will inspire you to get out with your idea and see if you can make it. [Read more...]

Provisional Patents – An Additional Advantage

Provisional patents have the advantage of being low cost but they have another additional advantage that make them a plus for inventors.

Requirements per the US Patent Office

The provisional application must be made in the name(s) of all of the inventor(s). It can be filed up to 12 months following the date of first sale, offer for sale, public use, or publication of the invention, whichever occurs first. (These pre-filing disclosures, although protected in the United States, may preclude patenting in foreign countries.) [Read more...]