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Q: Marketing an invention ( Answered,   5 Comments )
Subject: Marketing an invention
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: rbw-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 14 May 2004 16:02 PDT
Expires: 13 Jun 2004 16:02 PDT
Question ID: 346566
I have a patent and trademark for a plastic trash bag clip. It is
designed to be extruded in plastic, then cut by machine to size. I
have spent about $10,000 on legal fees, and $8,000 traveling to
Monterrey, Mexico and paying for extrusion of prototypes, fabrication
of die, etc. The samples were very disappointing.

I am disinclined to spend thousands more on better prototypes, and
don't trust "invention submission" scams. How can I license or market
a patented product that is, I believe, very marketable?

Clarification of Question by rbw-ga on 20 May 2004 14:02 PDT
There are no companies that "manufacture that widget" to offer a
license to. It's new. That's why I've spend thousands on a prototype

Request for Question Clarification by jbf777-ga on 21 May 2004 06:02 PDT
Hello rbw -

Thank you for your question.

How open are you to investing *any* more money into this project?  If
you are open, how much more are you willing to spend?


Clarification of Question by rbw-ga on 21 May 2004 09:25 PDT
jbf777  - I would be willig to spend another $5,000 if I saw prospects
of marketing the invention.


Request for Question Clarification by jbf777-ga on 21 May 2004 10:28 PDT
Are you able to disclose the patent/trademark number(s)?


Request for Question Clarification by taxmama-ga on 23 May 2004 09:03 PDT

Who do you envision will use this? 
Who is your target market?

How big is this clip?

Is it for home or commercial use?

What problem were you trying to solve when you came up with it?

I have some ideas - answers to those questions will help focus them

Your TaxMama-ga

Clarification of Question by rbw-ga on 23 May 2004 18:38 PDT

Patent number is 6,675,449 

Trademark 78105752 for "BOBZ" (The product is called "The BobZ",
pronounced Bob-Zee.)

Clarification of Question by rbw-ga on 23 May 2004 18:47 PDT

Paste the following url into your browser to access the US Patent
office issue of the patent.

Clarification of Question by rbw-ga on 23 May 2004 19:00 PDT

The device is an extrudable clip for securing trash bags to a can or
other device. See the patent at:

Click on "images", at the bottom of that page,for rough drawings. (I
have CAD designs, but the patent office wants only drawings).

Size can vary, but 2" X 3/4" (and 3/16" thick) will do.

Market is both home users, and commercial. (Anywhere there are
trash/waste cans that take liners.)

The device is to solve the problem of trash bags disappearing into the
can when something is added. The device is designed to be self
adhering to outside of a waste or trash can, then accept and grip the
bag. Clips (3 or 4 per can) will pop open and closed, allowing bags to
be easily changed.

Potential market in the hundreds of millions of units. Cost per unit,
in quantity, pennies.

(btw, I am an attorney, but retained a registered patent attorney for this job)



Clarification of Question by rbw-ga on 23 May 2004 20:13 PDT

Thanks for the comment
Subject: Re: Marketing an invention
Answered By: adiloren-ga on 25 May 2004 18:20 PDT
Hi, thank you very much for your question. I begin by providing some
warnings and recommendations for evaluating intervention marketing
companies. I then focus on market research, liscensing and maketing of
inventions in the post-patent stage. I hope this proves useful to you.
There are many books and much software out there on the process that
may also be useful. I have provided many link to many of these
products. Good luck!



This route could work- but you will have to be very careful about
which firm you choose to market your invention. Here are some
recommended criteria you should use when evaluatiing these companies:

"If you are considering going with an marketing company at all, ask them:

   1. How many inventors have they represented in the last 5-10 years?
   2. How many of these made more money through licensing obtained by
the company than they spent in having the invention marketed by them?
   3. How many inventions were presented to them in the last 5-10 years?
   4. How many of these inventions did they select to market?"
Brown & Michaels

I know you are a lawyer- but you may not be familiar with this law, it
could be beneficial to know when evaluating firms:

The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999

"The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 gives you certain
rights when dealing with invention promoters. Before an invention
promoter can enter into a contract with you, it must disclose the
following information about its business practices during the past
five years:

    * how many inventions it has evaluated,
    * how many of those inventions got positive or negative evaluations,
    * its total number of customers,
    * how many of those customers received a net profit from the
promoter's services, and
    * how many of those customers have licensed their inventions due
to the promoter's services."

Here is a good article on how to spot intention scams:

Spotting Sweet-Sounding Promises of Fraudulent Invention Promotion Firms

Invention Scams:

United States Patent and Trademark Office

"The USPTO will publish, at the request of a patent owner, a notice in
the Official Gazette that the patent is available for licensing or
sale. There is a fee for this service."

on the fee

Patent Official Gazette

Published complaints of invention marketing companies:

There is a "partial alphabetical list of companies which reportedly
have been the subject of legal action or against whom complaints have
been filed in the USPTO" here:

There is also federal information on invention marketing companies here:
Federal Trade Commission



"Market research comprises searching for similar products that are
currently on the market or that have been attempted to be marketed.
You should conduct your market research in (i) catalogs, (ii) the
Internet, (iii) stores, and (iv) magazines. You should also research
companies that make products similar to your invention to determine if
they manufacture products that would directly compete with your
invention or if they have a better product than your invention. Make
sure to check everything since a good percentage of inventions can be
eliminated simply by doing some solid market research."

Market Research Techniques:
by Andy Gibbs    Saturday, January 15, 2000

This program seemed to have a solid reputation among the inventor
organizations that I researched- may be worth the investment:

From Patent to Profit

Odering the products:


"One important factor leading to success is that early on you'll want
a marketing expert in the field of your invention on your team. This
could be your internal marketing department, external sales agency or
a potential licensee. This marketing partner is eminently important in
almost all that you do. Sales/marketing is the qualifier of your
product's design, which serves to validate market potential. Likewise,
it's the marketing expert's approval that drives your decision to most

Marketing expert is NOT an invention promotion company:

"By the way, your marketing expert is never an invention promotion
company. It must be an existing supplier in the field of your
invention. Be assured they'll want to work directly with you...not
through a middleman. From Patent to Profit shows you how to find these
experts, interview them and license them too."

Books on market research:

New Product Development
Managing And Forecasting For Strategic Success
by Robert J. Thomas

22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing
Violate Them At Your Own Risk

Market Research companies:


"AZtech is a full-service market research company offering a complete
range of services, including: focus groups, interviews, surveys,
literature searches, industry profiles and trends, technology
transfer, invention commercialization and business consulting. AZtech
provides professional services to businesses with strong support from
the consumers of assistive technology products."

This company will evaluate your idea for free and can assist in
marketing and liscensing:

McPherson Partners

"enturing:  project formations, business plans, marketing plans,
 and funding alternatives.
Divestitures & Acquisitions: product lines, technology, and
businesses . . . strategic moves.
Valuations: patents, products, technology, and companies.
Licensing: product or processing technology, business development,
prototype evaluations, and market assessments.
Positioning: products, businesses, and technology . . . maximizing value."

Sterling Frazier

Market Testing:

"If a very similar product is not located during the market and patent
research, you should then take an objective marketability test for
your invention. A good preliminary marketability test is the Wal-Mart
Innovation Network (WIN). For a fee of $175 WIN will evaluate your
invention based upon certain factors. You can contact WIN at (417)
836-5751  or visit their web site at

After you are finished conducting your market research, patent
research and marketability tests, you have to make a choice: (i)
proceed to Step #2, (ii) stop proceeding with the invention, or (iii)
place the invention on ?reserve? while you consider other inventions.
Remember, less than 50% of inventions should pass Step #1 if done



Background info:

  "Licensing  your inventions can be a means to earn income and defray
most of the costs of development and marketing. This is one of the
foremost strategies successful   inventors use to secure development

Simply put, patents give you the exclusive right to manufacture, use
and sell products falling under the scope of the patent. In turn, a
license conveys those rights to others. An inventor (patent owner) who
conveys these rights is referred to as the licensor. The company that
is receiving these rights is the licensee. The agreement between the
parties is called a license."

Liscensing vs. selling:

"A patent is INTANGIBLE property - not like an apartment building. So
while you can rent the apartment only once, you can license a patent
over and over. For instance, if you have a new gasoline engine filter,
you can license it to the auto industry, then the motorcycle, then
lawn mower, then off road vehicle industries, and so forth - doubling
or tripling you possible revenue compared to one "sale". This king of
licensing is called "limited exclusive" since you will only license to
one auto company, one motorcycle company ... you get the drift."

Rules to keep in mind:

"RULE 1: A licensing fee and royalty is always arrived at by backing
into the numbers - never by assuming the royalty will be ANY % of
sales, regardless of what royalty payments the inventor may have heard
of as being typical in the past. (Step 5, and in the  Invention
Starter Kit)

RULE 2: The inability of an inventor to attract a substantial royalty
agreement is based on the inventor's inadequate market assessment,
incomplete competitive market analysis, and not discovering how the
potential buyer might profit before the inventor starts idea and
patent development. (Step 2, and in the Invention Starter Kit)

RULE 3: Companies do NOT license ideas - or even Patents. They license
MONEY. You, the inventor, must complete your business plan so that you
can REALISTICALLY estimate the possible sales, costs and profits a
licensing company can achieve if they license your patent (Back to
Steps #1 & #2).

RULE 4: The "competitors" you identified during your Step 2 market
research could be your best licensing candidates. Learn and understand
how they do business as well as their top managers do.

RULE 5: You only have one chance to make a first impression - and
there is only one "best" company to license to. Before you contact
that company to license your invention, have your best prototype, best
market research, and best-written patent ready to display in all their
glory. If you have not carefully prepared, you blow it. It's too late
for another chance, and you will start DOWN the ladder to possibly
less interested companies."

Types of liscenses

<<Generally speaking there are three common types of licenses. They
are: 1) Licenses to manufacture, use and sell; 2) Licenses to sell,
and; 3) Licenses to use (common when purchasing software). The most
common license for inventors and owners of patents is the first, "to
manufacture, use and sell".

With these types of licenses, there are two general variations. There
are both exclusive and non-exclusive licenses. The one that's best for
your invention will depend upon several factors.">>

Manufacturing vs. Sales Lisences:

"Often inventors think of "licensing manufacturers". This may be a
good approach if the invention is a manufacturing related process or
product, but otherwise it's usually a misguided approach. You see,
licensing a manufacturer is easy. But that won't necessarily make any
money for you. What good is a license if the product doesn't sell?
Thus, the chief focus of most licenses is sales, not "manufacturing".
That's what you want. Sales generate income, which in turn pays you
royalties. Nothing happens until sales are generated. Finding the
right marketing partners as licensees should be your chief objective.
Focus on sales/marketing. Remember, "show me the money"."

Licensing in and licensing out:

"When licensing out technologies, you would be wise to know what the
other party--your licensee--is going to be looking for. The licensee
is going to have a long list of criteria that you're patented, or
patent pending technology must meet. Do you know how to view your
patents from a licensee's perspective? You best find out, because when
these questions are asked, and the answers are insufficient, you'll be
leaving yourself, your patents and your invention vulnerable.

Likewise, when licensing in technology as a licensee, what do you look
for? You can't just willy-nilly take on projects and you can't rely
solely upon a legal decision. There are pertinent manufacturing,
marketing, engineering and finance decisions that must also be made.
Be prepared, because licensing in new technology may be the most
important step your company has ever taken!"

Liscensing Research:

"After filing your self-drafted PPA with the USPTO, you should then
begin your ?licensing? research. It is recommended that you hire a
licensing agent who specializes with your type of product (toy
licensing agents, etc.). If you are unable to locate a licensing agent
who specializes with your type of product, you can either utilize a
general licensing agent or attempt to conduct the research yourself.
Your fees for the licensing agent should be less than $1,000 for all
services rendered.

During the licensing research you should first make a list of 5 ? 20
companies that manufacture products similar to your invention and that
may be potentially interested in licensing or buying your patent
rights. You should then try to contact these companies by telephone or
mail. Without describing your invention, you should tell the company
that you have an invention which solves a specific problem or does a
special function. You should inform them that you have ?patent
pending? on this unique product. You should then ask the company if
they would potentially be ?interested? in licensing or purchasing the
patent rights to your invention. If they request more information
about your invention this is a good indication that your invention is
potentially licensable. If the companies state that they already have
a product that adequately solves the problem or that does the special
function, this is an indication that your invention is not potentially


License your invention to get royalties. 

The Royalty Myth
by Andy Gibbs    Sunday, July 20, 1997

Licensing - The Intelligent Alternative
by Lawrence Udell    Thursday, January 23, 2003

Finding the Right Company to License your Patent
by Greg Mills    Monday, June 25, 2001


A book on how to leverage patents as a powerful competitive corporate tool.
Essentials of Patents
by Andy Gibbs (Author), Bob DeMatteis (Author)

The LESI Guide to Licensing Best Practices: Strategic Issues and
Contemporary Realities
by Robert Goldscheider (Editor)

How To License Your Million Dollar Idea
Everything You Need To Know To Turn A Simple Idea Into A Million Dollar Payday

License Your Invention
Sell Your Idea And Protect Your Rights With A Solid Contract


This company is endorsed by many inventor organizations;

Lambert and Lambert (also provide marketing assistance)

"If you are an inventor with a patent or just someone who has one
great idea for a new invention, we can help you make it very

We are licensing agents in search of great inventions, both with
patents and without patents, to bring to market by way of a licensing

Simply put, we find manufacturers who will produce, package, and
distribute your invention and give you a generous royalty percentage
of sales."

"Picking the right manufacturers to license your invention is crucial
in the first stages.  Without knowing where to go you are destined to
endlessly search in the wrong places.  There are essentially three
different "classes" of manufacturers, and only one of which you should
approach for licensing your invention."

The right one:
"The third type or class of manufacturer is the kind that you should
contact for licensing your invention.  They are the ones that supply
the parts for Ford, GM, and even Toyota.  These manufacturers have
established distribution channels and so licensing with these
companies is extremely profitable.  They spend millions of dollars
every year on research and development and so are very open to new
ideas that will give them a competitive advantage.  After you strike a
licensing agreement with one of these companies, your job is
essentially done!  Obviously they will be interested in specifics
about the invention and technical support from the inventor, but you
do not need to worry about the marketing, packaging, or distribution. 
All of that is taken care of.  As a result, it is this type of
manufacturer that we contact if we represent your invention."



Write a business plan:

You will need a solid business plan along with your patent to persuade
investors and/or companies.

Here is some software that may help:

Seek out investors

"If you need to find investors, understand that ANY serious investor
will DEMAND a business plan, so why not begin one now, and prove to
yourself that you have a marketable invention and business concept. 
When you're ready to seek loans or investors, you can start by
researching the funding sources listed in the Patentcafe Directory.
Wouldn't it be great if you could just plug your idea into a machine,
and your new business pops out? You almost can."

Seek out manufacturers:

"Manufacturing: While you will probably not become a "manufacturer"
with thousands of square feet of manufacturing buildings, production
equipment, and so forth, you will "act" as the manufacturer. You would
hire the right contract manufacturer that can produce your parts.
Then, you would warehouse and sell the finished goods products as if
you had manufactured them.

How would you even begin to find a reliable, competitive manufacturer
capable of supplying your products - especially if they were overseas?
Choosing the wrong manufacturer can sink you - it's an important
issue, so we'll tell you how. The ProductBuilders have been
manufacturing high and low volume, high to low tech products for more
than 2 decades - and you can review the capabilities in the
Engineering and Product Development Center to see if they are right
for you. Quotations are free - so compare."


"To market your invention successfully, focus intensely on how to
bring your product to market - more so in the beginning than on how to
protect your idea.

But when it comes to the actual sales, where do you start? How do you
sell your product to Target stores? Ironman inventing and Business
Plan walks you through the process of locating and qualifying
manufacturers' sales agents who work on sales commission."


Investors and Inventions, Money and Markets: How to go from Idea to Market
by Andy Gibbs    Monday, January 22, 2001

Market To Your Target
by Andy Gibbs    Monday, March 19, 2001

How To Find the Markets for Your Invention
by Jeff Dobkin    Monday, April 09, 2001

Invent something useful if you want to get paid for it!
by Greg Mills    Wednesday, December 05, 2001

The Big Idea
by Steven Strauss    Thursday, January 03, 2002


Marketing Your Invention
by Thomas E., Jr. Mosley 

"In this book, Mosley, the new product developer at the Oklahoma
Department of Commerce, seeks to provide inventors with practical
information they need to market their new product ideas and inventions
for commercial successes."

Bringing Your Product To Market
(A title from the Entrepreneur Magazine Library series)
by Don Debelak

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Cashing In On Your Inventions
by Richard C Levy

The Inventor's Bible
How To Market And License Your Brilliant Ideas
by Ronald Louis Docie, Sr.

reviews of "The Inventor's Bible"

Stand Alone, Inventor!
And Make Money With Your New Product Ideas!



Inventor Organizations:

America's Inventor Online

United Inventors Association

Trade shows:

Upcoming trade shows:

June 11, 12, 13, 2004
Minnesota Inventors Conference
Red Falls, Minnesota

October 2004
Yankee Invention Expo
Waterbury, Connecticut




General Information Concerning Patents: FAQ

Basic Facts About Trademarks

Protecting Ideas 


Google Search Strategy:

"marketing an invention"
narrowing search terms


Thanks again for your question. I hope this helps. Please let me know
if you need any clarification of my response. Good luck!

Anthony (adiloren-ga)

Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 26 May 2004 12:56 PDT
My thanks to TaxMama-ga who provided some specific industry analysis
to supplement my response. I tried to approach it generally, because
I'm sure rbw-ga knows a lot more about the specifics of the industry
for his widget than I do. But TaxMama-ga provided some nice background
info that should be useful and, in combination with the other
comments, rounds out the answer nicely.

I also wanted to mention to rbw that I truly think this is a great
idea. It is the kind of invention that makes you think, "why didn't I
think of that?", and goes on to make a ton of money for the savy
inventor. Best of luck to you rbw! Please feel free to ask any
clarification quetions that you may have. I will be happy to fill in
any gaps I may have missed if I am able.

Best regards,

Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 26 May 2004 14:39 PDT
Hi rbw,
I would like to be in contact with you off-site, but it is against the
regulations set by Google Answers.

" Researchers may not use any personally identifiable information in
any answer, nor may they solicit or advertise for any business in any
answer. They may not insert signature files that include personal
contact information."

I am not authorized, to my understanding, to communicate with
customers accept through this site.

However, if you have follow-up questions, or any other questions, for
me personally, you can ask them as another posted question with my
name (adiloren-ga) in the topic heading. Here is an example of a
client who posted a question for me specifically:

You can also communicate with me via this thread. You can post
comments here and I will be happy to respond to them. We can also
discuss future projects. I am able to monitor when additional comments
are added to the questions I have responded to- so I will be able to
keep in contact with you.

As for payment, the payment can be set by you for any new questions
and if you wish to negotiate it, we could do that here. Also, you can
adjust payment for a question according to the information that I have
(before I have answered it).

Say, if I am unable to come up with as much info as I expect you would
like on a $100 question- you could reduce the price accordingly- to
$50 or whatever the information merits. You can also tip the
researcher. If you feel an answer exceeded your expectations, you can
increase payment in the form of a tip. 100% of this tip goes to the

I look forward to staying in contact with you and wish you the best of
luck with your invention. Please let me know if there is any other way
that I can help or if you need any clarification of this response.


Request for Answer Clarification by rbw-ga on 26 May 2004 17:13 PDT
Anthony. The payment issue is simply that I originally posted this
question as $50, and my credit card was charged. I later edited the
question parameters, and increased it to $200, but my credit card was
not charged. I want to pay $200, but that is not the amount that, for
lack of a better word, had been "escrowed" by the original payment.
How do I go about that? Also, I don't see a link to rate the answer,
which is requested at the top of the page.



Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 26 May 2004 17:20 PDT
I'm not sure about the credit situation, but I was credited the
correct amount on my account.

As for the rating- here is the Google help topic on that:

"First, log in to your Google Answers account. On the "My Questions"
page, you'll see a list of all the questions you've asked so far.
Click on the question whose answer you want to rate. Rate the answer
and add a comment in the dialog box to explain your rating. Then click
the "Submit Rating" button to post your rating to the site. Please
remember that you cannot revise your rating. Therefore, you should
only rate an answer after you have completed the "Answer
Clarification" process and are satisfied with the researcher's work."

Please feel free to follow up you question if need be. Keep me posted.
Take care and good luck!

Subject: Re: Marketing an invention
From: tm_attorney-ga on 18 May 2004 21:57 PDT
If you have already applied for a patent, just go to companies that
manufacture that widget and offer them a license. You have to do some
homework, but if done right, you can get what you want.
Subject: Re: Marketing an invention
From: cath-ga on 21 May 2004 14:06 PDT
I answered a similar question, "Creating a Prototype," Question ID: 106107,
which includes invention "nurturing" companies that may be what you are
looking for. cath-ga
Subject: Re: Marketing an invention
From: chndru-ga on 25 May 2004 07:31 PDT
mm. Looks very interesting. Good luck on your hunt.
Subject: Re: Marketing an invention
From: taxmama-ga on 26 May 2004 05:56 PDT
Dear Robert

I wasn't able to see the drawings on the patent site. 
For some reason those pages kept coming up blank. 

Anthony's answer is amazing.
I've bookmarked it for future reference. 

Cath-ga's virtual prototype may be a good alternative
to actually building one, with the problems you've run into. 

Then, what I'd like to suggest is that you read the licensing information
and arm yourself with how to price a license, and how to keep the
exclusivity limited (i.e. not forever, or not worldwide). Then take
that knowledge to companies who are the leaders in the trash bag industry: 

Clorox, who makes Glad products

I stumbled on these on the EPA site, regarding companies using
recycled materials

International Plastics Corp

PCL Plastics Corp

Signature Marketing

Google "trash bags" to get a list of suppliers or manufacturers. 

Pitch the top 10 manufacturers or suppliers with your idea. 

Don't overlook the large office supply or industrial supply companies
who often brand their own products - like Quill ( .

If you can keep the rights to the promotional market, this might be a 
good product to take to those companies that imprint products for promotional
use, once you get it manufactured and have a working mold. 

Or consider negotiating for to have them manufacture promotional versions 
of your product, at a small percentage above cost, so you can generate 
revenues by selling promotional rights. They may be eminently printable. 

Just some thoughts to round out the information Anthony and Cath provided.

Best wishes

Your TaxMama-ga
Subject: Re: Marketing an invention
From: taxmama-ga on 26 May 2004 18:11 PDT
Hi Robert

Thanks for the nice words.

As Anthony points out, this IS an interesting little gadget. 

It's about as un-sexy and boring as a paper clip, but everyone
goes through thousands of them a year. (Xerox once spent $10,000 doing a
study to see what happened to them - talk about having too much money...)

Which reminds me of the $150 rat trap marketing question in the final
year of my BA. It was the final exam. Now, THAT was a challenge.

If you need any more marketing or publicity ideas, let me know. When 
challenged, I can come up with all kinds of ways to attract attention-

All you need to do is to put taxmama-ga in the title of a question. 

And don't worry about paying Anthony on this one. If your credit card
hasn't been charged yet, it will be. I don't think Google charges you
for a little while after the response, to make sure you're satisfied with it. 

The editors are really terrific about taking care of you - and us, too. 

Best wishes,

Your TaxMama-ga

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