Invention Help | Tips and Advice from Experienced Inventors
Inventor Help and Words of Wisdom from Inventrepreneurs and Wisepreneurs




Convince the manufacturer or licensee to pay for your patent costs.  Instead of asking for big licensing fees up front or huge shares of the royalties [inventors] should seek the buyer's help in developing the idea into a product. "We teach how to convince the manufacturer to upgrade the provisional to a full patent and put it in [the inventor’s] name.”  (Andrew Krauss, president of the Inventors Alliance quoted in John Tozzi, “How to Sell Your Invention,” Business Week, September 12, 2007)

Don’t let emotional ties to your invention torpedo your success.  "When someone invents something, they believe they have a product no one has, the best ever made, and everyone will want it… …It is their baby, they are emotionally tied to it, and because of that they don't always make sound business decisions.  When you tell them their baby isn't going to work, that it is a bad child, they get angry and don't believe it. Getting a patent is easy compared to getting that patent to market." " (Urban Miyares, VP, NUVENCO Group quoted in Penni Crabtree, “Invention is the easy part; marketing is the necessity,” San Diego Business Journal, December 21, 1992)  Find more about overcoming obstacles to inventor success.

Collaborate rather than be too suspicious.  The reality is that large companies with expertise in a particular product line often improve a product in scores of ways. Ideally the relationship between inventor and a licensing company should be one of collaboration rather than mutual suspicion.  (Richard C. Levy, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions and Inventing and patenting sourcebook: How to sell and protect your ideas, quoted in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)  Richard C. Levy and Associates.  Purchase books about inventing by Richard C. Levy.  See his successful invention Furby, occasionally spelled "Furbie," commercially available online.

Find an invention help group to assist you.  "A lot of times an inventor has a particular product and idea…  They are enamored with that idea and how to move that forward. They have a whole lot wrapped up in that idea emotionally. A group of people who can provide advice to those people (and) provide them with help in making prudent investments in the idea is very important to that constituency."  Invention assistance. Inventions help centers. Free invention help.  (Mark Schaffner, president and chief executive of the Ben Craig Center Charlotte business incubator cited in Fred Tannenbaum, “Local inventors group seeks to help would-be Edisons,” Charlotte Business Journal, May 6, 2005).


Do you need help with your invention? Contact Inventors Workshop, a nonprofit organization that has been providing inventor help services for more than 35 years.  805-879-1729


Understand the needs of the corporations that market inventions.  “[I]nventors need to understand the needs and the dynamics of corporations that can license, manufacture and market their inventions.  While independent inventors still get tens of thousands of patents each year, the vast majority of these never produce a dime in sales. The reason… …is that inventors often suffer from a myopia that prevents them from understanding the broader challenges of moving from the garage shop to the marketplace.”  (Richard C. Levy, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions and Inventing and patenting sourcebook: How to sell and protect your ideas, quoted in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)  Richard C. Levy and Associates.  Purchase books about inventing by Richard C. Levy.  See his successful invention Furby, occasionally spelled "Furbie," commercially available online.

Keep rethinking your prototype.  "You have to keep rethinking the prototype, …You may have a good idea, but it may be too big, too heavy, to be acceptable in the industry." (Bill Becoat, inventor of two-wheel drive bicycle, citing his hours of research into technical journals and patent records at Southern Illinois University quoted in Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)  Read more about the fascinating story of inventrepreneur, Bill Becoat.

Be prepared with cost estimates and the fundamentals of a marketing strategy.  “[Inventors] should be able to present cost estimates and the fundamentals of a marketing strategy, and they need to build credibility with decision makers in the company who can act as their inside champions.” (Richard C. Levy, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions and Inventing and patenting sourcebook: How to sell and protect your ideas, quoted in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)  Richard C. Levy and Associates.  Purchase books about inventing by Richard C. Levy.  See his successful invention Furby, occasionally spelled "Furbie," commercially available online.

Read books about licensing inventions and negotiating licensing agreements.  “Then [Kim and Larry Perea] began the serious work. They read invention advice books.  ‘How To License Your Million Dollar Idea’ by Harvey Reese was the most valuable book the Pereas read.  They learned to expect skepticism and learned what to demand including liability insurance paid by the company that buys the product, a set payment schedule, production time constraints, approval of changes to the product and reviewing the company's financial records.” Free invention help.  (Darren G. Brown, “Bike Toy Inventors Ride An Old Idea,” Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA), July 11, 1999, p. D03)  Bike toys. Order licensing and invention advice books by Harvey Reese.


Learn from wisepreneurs and inventrepreneurs.  Find the best-selling invention books and guidebooks for inventors.


Learn as much as you can before you jump in.  "The biggest mistake is people just jump into things too quickly. You really should learn as much as you can about the process before you spend a dime.  … [Inventors] need to really know their thing is going to do something before they put [their invention] out there."  (Joanne Hayes-Rines, senior consultant with Inventors Digest, quoted in Tim Lemke, “Invention + market savvy = successful product,” The Washington Times, April 16, 2001)  Learn about the inventing process.  Discover the latest fascinating invention tips revealed by experienced inventors by subscribing to Inventors Digest reading invention guide books.

Invent something that has a high wow factor, not just a “me too” product. "’First and most important… …the product has to have a 'wow' factor." All inventors must ask themselves the key question of whether their products are innovative enough to make it in the target market. The truth is, an invention with just a few minor improvements will be considered a "me, too" product or a product — line extension — not a true innovation. Small improvements alone aren't enough for you to succeed as an inventor.”  (Michael Miller, Hound Dog Products, Inc., marketer of the invention, Weed Hound quoted in Don Dedelak, “How to find a company to make and market an invention,” Entrepreneur, April 1, 2001)  Learn about creating "wow factor" product inventions.

Beware of inventions that call for big behavioral changes.  “We didn't realize that although technology moves very quickly, people's mind-set changes very slowly… People are very cautious, especially when it comes to the big issues.”  (Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of DEKA Research & Development Corp., commenting on the lower than predicted consumer acceptance of his invention, the Segway, quoted in Unmesh Kher, “The Segway Riddle, Time Magazine, August 13, 2006)  Find books about Dean Kamen. Discover DVDs, videos and TV programs about Dean Kamen.

Talk with successful inventors about their experiences with invention marketing companies. “Find out what specific products the firm has successfully marketed. Then follow up with the inventors themselves. If getting this information proves a problem, walk away.”  (Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)

Make and sell your invention on a small scale first to improve your licensing chances.  "You have a better chance of getting a licensing agreement if you first make and sell your invention on a small scale." (By Courtney Price, “Inventors need good strategy to sell products,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, March 29, 1998)

Don’t assume that your tastes match those of your target consumer. “Just because you like it doesn't mean everyone else will. Use your own instincts, and confirm those feelings with the opinions of others. But the only way to know ahead of time if your product can really sell is to sell some units prior to launch.”  (Ron L. Wilson II and Brian Le Gette, co-founders of 180s LLC cited in Don Debelak, “Warm reception: how you can revolutionize a stagnant product on a limited budget and still win over your target market,” Entrepreneur, December 1, 2003)

Fit your invention to the narrow target market of your prospective licensee.  “What do potential licensors look for in inventions, anyway? …Inventors who want to succeed with licensors have the best chance of hitting a hot button when they describe their product in terms of the same narrow market opportunity their contacts already operate in. So the next time you talk to a potential licensor, concentrate first on finding out what market they target. Next, explain how your product fits that market. Whatever you do, don't talk about how your product can be sold in dozens of markets--your contact will just end up thinking you sell to a different market than they do.”  (Don Dedelak, “How to find a company to make and market an invention,” Entrepreneur, April 1, 2001)

Be aware of the knock-off risks of your invention.  There is a “dirty little secret about the world of retailing that every fledgling inventor should know: There's a sophisticated industry devoted to seeking out successful inventions, stealing the ideas and marketing the knock-offs before the courts can shut them down. ‘Those companies, have a pretty simple strategy,’ [according to Jerry Mills, an intellectual property attorney Houston-based Baker & Botts L.L.P.]  ‘They make the money, then either disappear or spend it before you can find them.’”  If your invention is “basic in design, easy to duplicate, cheap to make”, it is a prime candidate. Knockoff, knock off, knockoffs, knock offs.  (Rusty Cawley, “Patent Protection,” Dallas Business Journal, June 12, 1998) 

Network with other inventors and entrepreneurs.   “People need to network, need to get in touch with people that have already done it when they are creating a product.”  Free invention help.  (Bill Becoat, inventor of two-wheel drive bicycle cited in Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)  Discover books about inventor Bill Becoat.

Try to get the broadest patent possible.  "You don't want to define your claims too narrowly.  The defendant's job is to look for `prior art' -- a magazine photo, a newspaper article, anything that shows your idea is not an original idea."  Invention patent protection strategies.  (Jerry Mills, intellectual property attorney at Baker & Botts L.L.P quoted in Rusty Cawley, “Patent Protection,” Dallas Business Journal, June 12, 1998)

Build a war chest to defend against knock-offs.  "If the ads [for your invention] play over and over again, the knock-off companies know the product's a winner. That's when you'll have to defend your patent just to keep your company alive."  Invention patent protection strategies. (Tomima Edmark, Dallas inventor of the "The TopsyTail, Patent No. 5,036,870.” quoted in Rusty Cawley, “Patent Protection,” Dallas Business Journal, June 12, 1998)  Read the fascinating story about The TopsyTail.  See the wide range of books written by author, Tomima Edmark.


What do you think are the biggest obstacles to inventor success?  What do experts say are the secrets to inventor success, the best practices and most effective solutions for overcoming obstables and achieving success for commercializing inventions?


Develop a working model of your invention, if possible, before you patent it.  “Shelley Hunter, an inventor and stay-at-home mother from Danville, [California] said she was naive when she began. ‘I did everything wrong. ... I had incorrectly gone to apply for a patent before I got a working model of my product,' she said. 'If you underestimate anything, you have to redo it.’   Because of mistakes, Hunter didn't get the patent on her hands-free cover for baby carriers for two years.”  Successful women inventors.  Advice for inventors of baby products.  (Shelley Hunter, mompreneur inventor of Shoe Clues quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004)  Discover other innovative baby products.

Don’t cut corners on patent attorney or patent lawyer services.  Hire an expert intellectual property attorney.  “Some inventors try to cut corners on that. If you have to save money, do it somewhere else.” (Tomima Edmark, Dallas inventor of the "The TopsyTail, Patent No. 5,036,870.” quoted in Rusty Cawley, “Patent Protection,” Dallas Business Journal, June 12, 1998)  Read the fascinating story about The TopsyTail.  See the wide range of books written by author, Tomima Edmark.  Find more about obstacles to success faced by inventors.

Persevere.  “Persevere. That's what I always say to people. There's no easy route. Nobody's going to step in and dump a lot of money and make it easy. Unless you have a lot of money, you have to pay your dues and make a personal sacrifice."  (Lonnie Johnson, highly successful inventor of the Super Soaker and president of Johnson Research & Development, quoted in Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market,” Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)  See the full range of Super Soaker products now available.  Discover books about inventor Lonnie Johnson.

Learn to take rejection.  “Learn to take rejection. I define the word ‘no’ as meaning ‘not now.’”  (Richard C. Levy, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions and Inventing and patenting sourcebook: How to sell and protect your ideas, quoted in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)  Richard C. Levy and Associates.  Purchase books about inventing by Richard C. Levy.  See his successful invention Furby, occasionally spelled "Furbie," commercially available online.

Don’t give up.  “You may approach 100 people before finally finding the right one [for licensing a product]. Inventors must be both persistent and innovative when looking for the right licensing candidate. So take every approach possible and don't give up. Remember, the right contact might just be the next person you talk to.” (Don Dedelak, “How to find a company to make and market an invention,” Entrepreneur, April 1, 2001)

Avoid the problem of unsold garage inventory by licensing your invention.  "If you have a lot of ideas, and you're very creative, licensing is the way to go.  A lot of people venturing end up with a lot of inventory in their garage that they couldn't sell."  (Stephen Key of Modesto, founder of InventRight and licensor of more than 20 inventions, quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” Sacramento Bee December 12, 2004)  Whether to license or manufacture invention.

Keep communications going.  "Anyone who is creative can come up with ideas, but the most frustrating thing is to come up with a creative idea and find you can't talk about it with people who understand. Don't give up trying to make contact with those who share your interests and experiences. Keep communication going." (David Walker, inventor of Walla Balla quoted in Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)

Determine if your prospective invention licensing agent has solid relationships in your target industry. "Most of these inventors need access to the marketplace, and this is a relationship world."  (Paul L. Simmons, research and development director of the International Center for Technology Transfer, Inc., (ICTT) cited in Jane Meinhardt, “Inventor helping others to create ideas,” Tampa Bay Business Journal, August 22, 2003)

Don’t be greedy.  “If you are an inventor, don't be too greedy. Give the partner enough incentive to make money with you. Whatever deal you consummate, it should be a win-win situation for both sides. After all, if the helper you select is going to do engineering, fund the project and market the product, he or she should be compensated very well. The original inventor should receive a minimum royalty. Also, the agreement should protect your interest and be sustainable.”  (Joe Marsalka, “Keep market, collaborators in mind to turn inventions into businesses,” Business First of Columbus, September 8, 2006, Joe Marsalka is a consultant and lecturer with J.P. Marsalka Associates in Columbus, 614-582-7171, who holds eight patents)  Learn about negotiating licensing contracts. Order Richard Stim's book, How to Make Smart Licensing Deals. Peruse other books by Richard Stim.

Don’t be obsessed with contracts.  “When dealing with reputable companies… inventors should not be obsessed with contracts. The primary goal is to forge a partnership and strike a deal… and that process will only be hamstrung by insisting on close legal scrutiny at every step of the negotiations.  While contracts are ultimately essential, initial understandings can be reached informally with a handshake.”  Find more about obstacles to inventor success.  (Richard C. Levy, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions and Inventing and patenting sourcebook: How to sell and protect your ideas, quoted in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)  Richard C. Levy and Associates.  Purchase books about inventing by Richard C. Levy.  See his successful invention Furby, occasionally spelled "Furbie," commercially available online.

If you are certain you have the right licensee, make it easy for them to say yes.  “If you are certain you have chosen the right manufacturer, don't take no for an answer. There are many creative ways of getting your invention to market with little start-up capital. Remember, it's a long stretch from a manufacturer liking your invention to agreeing to license it. Make it easy for them to say yes.” Licensing or manufacturing inventions. (By Courtney Price, “Inventors need good strategy to sell products,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, March 29, 1998)


Discover inventor Richard C. Levy's best-selling books about inventing and see his most successful invention Furby, (occasionally spelled "Furbie,") commercially available online.


Be careful about licensees that take liberties with your design parameters.  “Would I do it again? Yes, but with more caution. Now I feel I should have insisted that certain design parameters be kept. The mirrors produced now don't have the accuracy that I took great time to create.” (Joe Marsalka, “Keep market, collaborators in mind to turn inventions into businesses,” Business First of Columbus, September 8, 2006, Joe Marsalka is a consultant and lecturer with J.P. Marsalka Associates in Columbus, 614-582-7171, who holds eight patents)

Don’t spend all of your time courting established product licensing companies.  “Most of the people or companies that actually license products are not established companies, but rather start-ups or individuals wanting to launch businesses. So, as an inventor, you need to explore all your options when trying to license your idea — don't spend all your time courting established companies. They're overwhelmed with innovations from myriad inventors and don't have time to evaluate everything.” Invention submission.  (Don Dedelak, “How To Find A Company To Make And Market An Invention” Entrepreneur, April 1, 2001)

Contact intellectual property management firms to help license your invention.  “Inventors frequently search for established businesses to help them license their products. Generally, though, established licensors are hard to find and very selective about the products they handle. A better approach is to check out intellectual property management firms, which license products, especially tech products with huge sales potential. To get more information about licensing agents and intellectual property management agents, check out the Licensing Executives Society.” (Don Dedelak, “How To Find A Company To Make And Market An Invention” Entrepreneur, April 1, 2001)  Become a member of the Licensing Executives Society.  Licensing Executives Society International (LESI).  Order The LESI Guide to Licensing Best Practices.

Avoid invention promotion companies.  “Experienced inventors say the worst thing an independent inventor can do is to pay an "invention promotion" company to market the product.  "If you see one of those, run like the wind," [says Raoul Drapeau, an independent inventor in Vienna, Virginia].  The problem with such firms, invention experts say, is that they often promise to help market an invention before they even know what it is, and have no qualms about taking money from inventors whose ideas they know will likely fail in the marketplace. The Office of Independent Inventor Programs issues warnings against companies who are suspected of scamming naive inventors. [Inventors Digest] publishes a "Red Flag" list of companies to avoid. Often, these companies advertise on television and radio, and have governmental-sounding names.”  Invention submission. (Tim Lemke, “Invention + market savvy = successful product”, The Washington Times, April 16, 2001)  See independent inventor Raoul Drapeau's book "The Art & Methods of Invention."

If you get taken by an invention scam company, ask for your money back.  “‘If people complain right away,’ says [Bobby] Toole [president of United Inventors Association], ‘the company usually gives their money back because it doesn't want a lawsuit.’ But buyer beware: The FTC sued a New York company that had collected $5,000 from a number of people. Then the company itself declared bankruptcy, and most clients lost the money anyway.”  Patent infringement lawsuit. (Caryne Brown, “Making money making toys: how black inventors are bringing innovative ideas to the toy market”, Black Enterprise, November 1, 1993)

Be aware that you may have to defend your patent in court over and over again.  “[The] reality of patent law is this:  If you want to maintain your patent, you have to defend it in court. Not just once, but over and over again.  ‘If 100 companies knock off your invention, then you have to file 100 lawsuits.’” Patent litigation, patent infringement litigation. (Tomima Edmark, Dallas inventor of the "The TopsyTail, Patent No. 5,036,870.” quoted in Rusty Cawley, “Patent Protection,” Dallas Business Journal, June 12, 1998)  Read the fascinating story about The TopsyTail.  See the wide range of books written by author, Tomima Edmark.


Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies (for Dummies (business & Personal Finance))