A Patent Is No Magic Bullet
By Paul Niemann, President
of Market Launchers
Sometimes an inventor believes that his work is done after he receives
a patent. He thinks he can sit back and wait for someone to beat a
proverbial path to his doorstep for the rights to it. In most cases,
nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, only a small
percentage of patented products actually produces a profit.
Why is the percentage of
profitable inventions so low? There are 2 main reasons.
First, there is simply not
a market for most patented inventions. This means that your invention
Ė the one youíve been pouring your life into for the last several
years Ė might not sell if and when you get a patent on it. The world
doesnít want a product thatís 15 years ahead of its time; the world
wants a product thatís 15 minutes ahead of its time.
Second, inventing a product
is a totally different skill than marketing a product. Most inventors
would rather invent new products than try to sell them. They either
donít know how to go about marketing a new product, or they just donít
want to do the marketing part. Yet itís the marketing part thatís
accomplishes what you set out for in the beginning Ė invent a product
that people will want to buy.
If your invention is
patentable, you must answer a few questions to help determine if you
should apply for a patent.
WHO WILL USE IT OR BUY IT?
This means knowing what
demographic variables describe your intended customers, i.e. age
group, gender, income level, and so on. Be specific. For example would
your product be for middle-aged men or stay-at-home moms? Your product
is not "for everybody."
HOW MUCH WILL CUSTOMERS PAY
This is important for
several reasons: If you price your product too high, youíll lose some
potential sales. If you price it too low, youíll miss out on some of
the profit that you deserve. Also, price is often an indicator of
quality. A price thatís set too low often gives the impression of
inferior quality. A higher, but reasonable price indicates that the
product is of high quality.
WHAT WILL IT COST TO
A common rule of thumb is
that the production cost should be no more than 20 -- 25 percent of
the final purchase price. This is because there will be additional
mark-ups between you and the final consumer. There will be markups to
the wholesaler, the salesperson and the retailer. Most middlemen mark
it up by 75% -- 100 percent. There are also advertising and
promotional costs along the way, even if youíre selling your product
directly to the end user.
What other products exist
that serve the same market? How are they different and how are they
Knowing the level of
competition that your invention will face gives you an idea as to how
your product will be received by potential licensees if you choose to
go the licensing route. On the other hand, if youíre planning to
manufacture it yourself, the level of competition will have an impact
on the response from your potential distributors and end users.
If there are no products
similar to yours, it usually means one of two things: Either there is
no demand for your type of product, or (ideally) there is a demand not
currently being filled.
These are important
questions that you need to answer before you decide whether or not to
apply for a patent. If you canít answer these questions satisfactorily
and in an unbiased manner, then the issue of patentability becomes a
moot point. Whether you are an independent inventor or are employed to
develop new products, thereís not much point in applying for a patent
unless your invention can generate revenue for you or your company.
Thomas Edison once said, "Anything that wonít sell, I donít want to
invent." After all, if it wonít generate revenue, then what is there
A productís patentability
does not guarantee its marketability. Learn as much as you can about
how to market your product and get the help you might need. As much as
we want you to be successful, we want even more to buy the products we
canít bear to be without Ė yours!
Paul Niemann runs MarketLaunchers.com, building web
pages for inventors. Having your own web page allows you to show your
invention to companies when youíre unable to present it to them in
person, serving as your own ďonline brochure.Ē Plus, there are
companies who search the MarketLaunchers.com Invention Database for
new products. Visit
for details and pricing.
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