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Posted by Jessica Vann

Love carving pumpkins?



Did you know who invented the pumpkin carving kit? Would you have guessed a father and son did? John Bardeen patented the pumpkin carving kit; however his dad, Paul was the one who first came up with the idea. This idea came from the family tradition of carving pumpkins. To read more about John Bardeen, then click here
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Posted by Jessica Vann
Posted by Jessica Vann

What Are Patent Trolls Costing Us?



Did you know that it can cost a business (small or large) between $1.33 million to $7 million in settlement fees and between $1.75 million to $8 million in litigation fees to fight Patent Trolls? Patent Trolls are people or companies that buy patents from companies in financial predicaments and then threaten or pursue lawsuits against those “infringing companies” that they believe are “infringing” on the patent they just bought.
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Posted by Jessica Vann
Posted by Jessica Vann

Invention Products We Take For Granted



There are millions of products out in the world that have been invented that we take for granted. We are so used to using them on a daily basis, we don’t take the time to think of how they originated. Here are two products that we take for granted, the ballpoint pen and the zipper. Did you know that the ballpoint pen used to sell for $12.50 or that there was more than one person who invented the zipper?
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Posted by Jessica Vann
Posted by Jessica Vann

Inventor of the Month – Who is Nikola Tesla?



Did you know that Nikola Tesla obtained 300 patents during his lifetime, but that when he died in 1943, he was impoverished and in debt? Nikola Tesla is best identified for his assistance in the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electrical supply system, which included a motor, transformer, and 3-phase electricity, but did you know he also invented the Tesla induction motor and the Tesla Coil. Read more

Posted by Jessica Vann
Posted by Jessica Vann

When taking your idea to market



Ever thought to yourself “I’ve got an excellent idea. It’s the future?” Now that you have this excellent idea, what do you do next? Do you go straight to a patent attorney, go into marketing? While it is great to have an idea, there are six things you want to keep in mind before shouting it out to the world. Confidentiality, uniqueness, product research, patent research, product design and protection of the idea are the main points you want to think about.
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Posted by Jessica Vann
Posted by Jessica Vann

Percy Spencer - an unusual inventor?



Did you know the inventor of the Microwave Oven did not finish elementary school? Percy Spencer, the inventor of the microwave oven left school at an early age to help support himself and his aunt after his uncle died. Through hard work and dedication he became a world leader expert in radar tube design. He invented the microwave purely by accident, when a chocolate bar in his pocket melted when he stood to close to a radar set that was active.
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Posted by Jessica Vann
Posted by Jessica Vann

History of the patent



Did you know that the first patent was granted in 1421 to a Florentine architect? Or that a patent granted by King Henry VI was valid for 20 years? Patents as we know them originated in Europe beginning in 1474 in the Republic of Venice and it wasn’t until 1641 that the first patent was granted in North America to an American inventor Samuel Winslow, who created a new process for making salt.
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Posted by Jessica Vann
Posted by Barbara Bouffard

How to commercialize your idea?



There are two common routes to make money from an idea: Licensing or starting your own business.


Licensing path

  • Design & development: Visualize concept for presentation
  • Research and present idea to company
  • Formulate terms of agreement with licensing practitioner
Result: Receive agreed percentage of profits.


Starting your own business

  • Design & development: Develop & visualize concept in preparation for prototype
  • Prepare prototype and engineering drawings
  • Distribute Product
  • Marketing
Result: Receive 100% of profits.


Licensing


A licensing agreement for a new product idea is a contract between yourself, as the inventor, and the manufacturer to manufacture, distribute and advertise your product as their own while you receive a percentage of the royalties.
The agreement contains several terms and conditions dependent on those negotiated between you and the individual company or companies. These terms can include the length of the contract, the exclusivity of the contract, the royalties’ structure and details of their intellectual property involvement.

The inventor receives a percentage of the profits as their reward. Sometimes an upfront lump sum is provided and other times the inventor receives set bonuses at certain sales targets. These types of additional payment will be dependent on the type of contract drawn up between you and the company or companies. Regardless of this, most deals will include a minimum payment that the company must make to the inventor, irrelevant of sales.
PROS: Total investment for production, and therefore total risk, is provided by the company or companies to whom you are licensing your product. Licensing to an expert in the industry means that a company with the relevant networks and means already in place can get your product to market more quickly and successfully than if you took on the manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing yourself. Minimum capital outlay.
CONS: Although you receive royalties, the return you make per unit sold will be a lot less than if you manufacture the product yourself. It is often difficult to acquire licensing deals: you have to undertake a significant amount of background work in order to professionally present the idea to industry.

There are 3 main types of License

An exclusive license: whereby only one company has the rights to produce your product.
A sole license: whereby only one company and yourself have the rights to produce your product.
A non-exclusive license: whereby any number of companies and you can produce your product.

Key terms that a license agreement should address:

Exclusivity and scope
Duration and termination of the contract
Standard terms: breach and insolvency
Other termination rights: non-payment, failure to exploit, challenging the patent

Obligations to exploit (to stop a licensee from ‘sitting’ on an idea)
Minimum royalties
Contractual commitments
Break clauses
Consequences: termination / conversion to a non-exclusive license

Royalty structures
Running royalties, signing fees, milestones
Are the royalties payable on net sales value of products sold?
Does it include tax?
Is it calculated as a percentage or fixed amount?

Patent enforcement
Who is responsible for enforcing the patent?
Who will bear the costs?

Each licensing deal is unique and depends on the perceived value of the invention and its stage of development. Below is a very rough approximation of the royalty payment paid to the inventor at the different development stages.

Idea only (very hard to license): 0.5 - 1% of production price
Prototype + patent pending / granted: 3 - 4% of production price
Product design + Prototype + patent pending / granted: 4 - 10% of production price


Starting your own business


Even if you are looking to manufacture the product yourself it is still important to develop presentation material for the purpose of gaining investment or interest from industry to secure deal. It is also necessary to have CAD (Computer Aided Designs) developed before looking to prototype.
By choosing to take on the project yourself you would be responsible for the manufacture, distribution and advertising of your product. There are lots of different options involved within this: whether you choose to manufacture abroad or in the USA; whether you distribute through your own retail outlet or through a distribution or merchandising center; whether to choose press releases, editorial, or media channels to advertise. A lot of these choices will be based on investment means and finances.
Although this process requires 100% investment there are numerous ways to obtain investment for your project to help move it forward: whether this be through venture capitalists, business loans or competitions.
PROS: Receiving 100% of the profits and having total control over the venture and its exploitation
CONS: There is a larger element of risk when taking on a project yourself It can often take some time to get to market High capital outlay

You do not have to definitively choose between these avenues for progressing your project. It is possible to change path at any point and sometimes even combine these options. However, before you think about choosing the right path for you it is important to show that you have invested a small amount in the project yourself to professionally develop the idea.

Posted by Barbara Bouffard
Posted by Barbara Bouffard

America Invents Act - Innovate experience with first to file



The US has recently changed its patent system to a system similar to First-to-File after the recent America Invents Act (Leahy-Smith). Innovate have over 10 years of operating within such a system. Innovate also has 10 years of experience of aiding European individual inventors in a wide variety of fields of product design with a large team well-practised in assisting clients explore and capitalize on their dreams.
For our European/UK inventor assistance operations, we have a permanent drafting team who have successfully helped many hundreds of clients obtain critical protection at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO), which operates a similar system to that now in force in North America.
Based on our successful formula achieved by our well established European headquarters, we have recently decided to expand our success to the US, which shares very similar system and inventor needs.
We have formulated our process over time to provide our European clients with a greatly streamlined and simplified approach, that we can now offer you. This helps you not only benefit from a relatively low-cost to achieve solid ‘Patent Pending’ coverage on your specific product, you will also benefit from our efficient and effective program that optimally positions you to approach the market even if you are on a very limited budget.
Often a patent application may well not be granted, and so may be a purely commercial step to give you the ability to describe your concept as ‘Patent Pending’ to provide some notional cover to approach potential licensees or backers, particularly as they would be able to see that you had taken serious steps in seeking protection for your idea.
But there are relatively inexpensive ways to achieve ‘Patent Pending’ status on your innovation and give you a relatively inexpensive way lock in your patent rights priority position under the new first-to-file system (e.g., ahead of other smart inventors who may try to file same invention ahead of you even though you thought of it first).
A properly prepared patent application protects you from potentially losing all your patent rights (in the US and internationally) due to your own public disclosure(s) or product sales (attempt).
By getting your innovation conception officially registered you can prove you came up with your innovation first and can help thwart or deter any would be theft of your ideas; something which, while still helpful, an NDA or relying on trust most often fails to achieve. It should also be mentioned that, for many legal liability reasons, most prospective companies and investors will generally require at least a properly prepared and filed provisional patent application before they will even review an invention submission for their investment/purchase consideration.
We offer two services well-suited to the budgets of individual inventors, please contact us for more specific quotations.
In case you are interested in more expansive details about US patent protection complexities, please visit http://www.uspto.gov/patents/resources/general_info_concerning_patents.pdf.

Posted by Barbara Bouffard
Posted by Barbara Bouffard

Innovation: A Post-Olympic Legacy or Letdown?



After the 2012 London Olympics, there was a great deal of talk about the creation of a legacy to provide long term benefits post-Games. This legacy was multifaceted, aiming not only to increase the levels of participation in the number of those regularly participating in sport in Great Britain, but also to inspire regeneration by making use of the Olympic venues, improving transport infrastructure and encouraging social change. The economic impact of The Games hoped to stimulate the economy, creating jobs and inward investment into the country. One thing that has not been examined is the impact of the 2012 London Olympics on innovation in Great Britain post-games. As a company who aim to position themselves at the top of the funnel for innovation in this country, Innovate felt that we should offer our perspective on whether The Games have lit the flame of entrepreneurial spirit in this country or if it has been little more than a damp squib.
After the 2012 London Olympics, there was a great deal of talk about the creation of a legacy to provide long term benefits post-Games. This legacy was multifaceted, aiming not only to increase the levels of participation in the number of those regularly participating in sport in Great Britain, but also to inspire regeneration by making use of the Olympic venues, improving transport infrastructure and encouraging social change. The economic impact of The Games hoped to stimulate the economy, creating jobs and inward investment into the country. One thing that has not been examined is the impact of the 2012 London Olympics on innovation in Great Britain post-games. As a company who aim to position themselves at the top of the funnel for innovation in this country, Innovate felt that we should offer our perspective on whether The Games have lit the flame of entrepreneurial spirit in this country or if it has been little more than a damp squib.
When asking this question, we felt that there would be no-one better to approach than Innovate’s Sports and Fitness Sector Specialist Jay Short who is the expert when it comes to this side of the industry. Of his expectations post-Games, Jay had this to say: “At Innovate, there is little doubt that a number of our invention submissions are inspired by circumstances in the wider environment. For example during a cold snap, we will see a spike in products that help to deal with the cold weather such as car de-icers, snowshoes and devices to decrease the general impact of the weather conditions. Post-Games, our expectations were that we would see a similar increase in the popularity of submissions in the short-term with numbers returning to a steady flow after the initial buzz of The Games had died down. The reality has in fact been surprisingly different.”
What Innovate have in fact seen has been not only an increase in submissions in the short term, but also a continuing increased flow of idea submissions on a sporting theme. The nature of the ideas are not purely Olympic-related, but more related to general sports that may not have featured so prominently (or at all) in the Olympics, but that have had the entrepreneurial juices inspired by The Games. “The nature of the ideas submitted post-Games have not so much been directly linked to improving the ways that events are managed, ie evolutions of the starting pistol, or running blocks, but more ideas that inspire a general improvement in fitness, or help with the management of the training and coaching of future generations of potential Olympic participants. This trend has continued into 2013 and offers a great example of a potential legacy created by The Olympics that maybe was not considered when the initial bid was won by Lord Coe.”
Innovation and entrepreneurship undoubtedly takes its inspiration from events. The 2012 London Games was one of the most inspirational events of recent times in this country and Innovate were pleased to see that in at least one way there is a legacy being created that may cross the boundaries between a number of the original legacy commitments providing both social and economic benefits whilst also helping to help the next generation of Olympic hopefuls. By the time that the 2016 Games make their way to Rio, it may well be that you see a number of new innovations that were Made In Britain off the back of a creative idea sparked by those giddy scenes from Super Saturday!

Posted by Barbara Bouffard

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