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Old 05-19-09, 01:26 PM   #1
Jon Sullivan
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New Invention

Hello,
I have been riding bikes since I was a kid. They are great machines.
I am a mechanical designer with a complete machine shop. I like to invent new things. I have invented, fabricated and tested a new accessory for a bicycle. It is a device that will appeal to the commuter and leisure bike enthusiasts. I would like to talk to someone about marketing this idea but don't have a clue as to where to start. Can anyone help me? Do you know anyone in the bicycle industry that I can talk to about marketing this product?
Thanks
Jon
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Old 05-19-09, 05:16 PM   #2
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Depends on your local city. Some business schools have an Entrepreneur program.
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Old 05-19-09, 07:45 PM   #3
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Is it patentable? Seems like you'd want to patent before talking to any companies about manufacturing deal.. or am I totally off base?
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Old 05-19-09, 07:48 PM   #4
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Jon, definitely have a patent in place before you approach anyone.
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Old 05-19-09, 10:35 PM   #5
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Jon, definitely have a patent in place before you approach anyone.
+2

Excellent advice! Many - in some locations - ALL - "Invent-Help Co." will take your idea. Patent it behind your back, and find a way to make you disappear empty-handed from their doorstep. To avoid that - get a patent-attorney and patent and/or copyright YOUR invention. You should do this in the first place to see if someone doesn't already hold a patent on the same idea. This saves you from wasting your time in the first place.

My uncle was ripped-off by these outfits several times. I finally talked him through how to approach it and not lose his inventions. And once you know your way around the patent office, you'll be able to ditch the lawyer. Unless it's to sue some sucker claiming his idea came first - and marketed a product based on your patent.
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Old 05-20-09, 07:16 AM   #6
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get the patent first!!!!! and talk to a patent lawyer about it!!! and don't tell him too many specifics about the product!!!!
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Old 05-20-09, 07:19 AM   #7
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There are 2 different ideas about patents. The obvious one is to get a patent before you market anything. The problem with that is that you need to publish your idea and then anyone can pick it up, make minor changes, and market it. That puts you in the lawsuit business, not the inventing/marketing business.
The other approach is to ignore patents, market your idea and build market share, then invent something else before competitors steal your idea. That's the approach Crocs takes.
Either way, it's a long shot for an individual to start something from scratch, without a boatload of money behind him.

em
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Old 05-20-09, 03:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jon Sullivan View Post
Hello,
I have been riding bikes since I was a kid. They are great machines.
I am a mechanical designer with a complete machine shop. I like to invent new things. I have invented, fabricated and tested a new accessory for a bicycle. It is a device that will appeal to the commuter and leisure bike enthusiasts. I would like to talk to someone about marketing this idea but don't have a clue as to where to start. Can anyone help me? Do you know anyone in the bicycle industry that I can talk to about marketing this product?
Thanks
Jon
I haven't done it myself, but know a couple people who have worked in light manufacturing.

What you do is apply for a patent, and immediately start making and selling it yourself. A simple website and spamming a few newsgroups and forums a bit is all it takes now to sell. Make people send money orders to you until it profits enough for you to set up a whole online shopping cart/credit-card service (and realize that it may never get that profitable!).

When the Chinese start making and selling it, offer to sell it to them, if you can identify the source. Keep on selling until it's not worth the hassle, but don't spend money trying to fight patent infringement, because on the low end it's only a waste of your time and what little profits you're likely to make. The simpler an invention is and the more useful it is the more likely it is to get stolen--but you cannot stop that.

People unfamiliar with the environment tend to think of the principles of a patent as an ironclad guarantee of some sort, because that's what they were told as little kids in school. It is nothing of the kind--it's only a pretense to sue, and suing anybody costs money up front. Defending patents costs money, lots of it.

In your accounting, you should have three piles of money: one that you pay yourself, another one that you expand your business with, and a third that you spend on lawsuits. Once the lawsuit pile is gone, don't spend ANY of the other money on lawsuits. There's LOTS of stories of inventors who made a fair sum of money but spent all their profits plus went into debt, trying to file lawsuits against patent infringers. In the end the inventor ends up wiser but almost never wealthier. Avoid being another one of those stories. Make what profit you can as fast as you can until the pirates move in, and then move on to something else.
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Old 05-21-09, 09:24 AM   #9
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There are 2 different ideas about patents. The obvious one is to get a patent before you market anything. The problem with that is that you need to publish your idea and then anyone can pick it up, make minor changes, and market it. That puts you in the lawsuit business, not the inventing/marketing business.
publication of the idea is one of the points of the patent system. everyone knows about it, so they can build on your idea and further advance the technology. This is where its important to have a solid application written. Poor choices in wording the claims of a patent will make it easier for the competition to make those minor changes to avoid infringement. Besides, if you're building and selling a product, it will be out there for people to copy anyway.

For the OP, in the other thread you said you'd already filed the patent application (i'm assuming it was a non-provisional application). In that case, you might want to do some research or talk to your patent attorney on marking your product as "patent pending." If you're talking to other people/companies, you could consider a non-disclosure agreement, also a good thing to discuss w/ the attorney.

Doug5150 makes a good point. Its possible to spend more on litigation than you get back in damages. You might be able to get a lawyer to work on contingency (they don't get paid unless you win, and then they typically get a percentage), but it might be useful to do some market analysis to figure out how much money will be involved. Your attorney can probably help you estimate the costs vs. potential damages or royalties.
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Old 05-25-09, 08:45 AM   #10
Jon Sullivan
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Thank You for the very good information and advice.
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Old 05-25-09, 09:01 AM   #11
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Go look at the Triton Foundation. Guy was an inventor who made a fortune, now has this foundation to help with new ideas. A lot of the info is Australia specific, but a lot is very general.
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Old 05-25-09, 02:29 PM   #12
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One other important reason for patents and such: Someone may have invented what you have invented. And that person already hold the patent. So if you start making and selling X, you could wind-up being sued.

Always do a full patent-search before proceeding to ensure you are the first.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:22 PM   #13
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Get ready to spend some money. My friend and I have 6 patents pending at the moment. DO NOT GO THROUGH ANY INVENT HELP COs they will screw you in the end, I tried one for my first idea and now realize how badly they screwed me. Go through a patent lawyer it will cost you about $3000-$4000 per patent. PM me if you have any questions. -GuMBALLER9
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Old 05-26-09, 11:00 AM   #14
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Patents are typically not worth much, they represent the right to sue. Depending on your invention that might not be worth much.

You should do your own patent search, as my guess is similar items already exist, possible for 100 years.

Evading a patent is easy as designing an item that does the same thing only differently.

If you post what the thing does people can comment about it. Rather than wast thousands on a patent, waste thousands on distribution and manufacturing. Trade secrets(manufacturing), distribution, a known trademark and reputation are more valuable than a patent, but harder to obtain.
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Old 05-26-09, 05:57 PM   #15
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Rookie Error

Yes, I did double up, Rookie Error. I did not think the first one stuck....
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Old 05-27-09, 07:45 AM   #16
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Evading a patent is easy as designing an item that does the same thing only differently.
patent claims can be written broadly so that they cover multiple implementations. its a bit premature to say that its "easy" to design around when you haven't seen the invention or what is claimed in his application.
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Old 05-27-09, 08:26 AM   #17
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If it is a great invention, it will get stolen. Look at the Weedwacker. The inventor tried to sue all the imitators and lost his profits. You need to talk to an attorney even just an hour or so to find your options. You need to be able to prove you came up with this idea first when an imitator threatens to sue you for your own invention.
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Old 05-27-09, 09:22 AM   #18
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patent it

then go get your own booth at Interbike and display it. that is all you haz to do.
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Old 05-27-09, 09:40 AM   #19
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patent claims can be written broadly so that they cover multiple implementations. its a bit premature to say that its "easy" to design around when you haven't seen the invention or what is claimed in his application.
These days that is tuff. Look at dealextreme.com. They have no presence outside of Hong Kong. If they invade your patent who are you going to sue?

I am not against the patent idea but unless the product is being used, distributed, or produced by a small number of wealthy organizations that are in a juristiction that you can sue in, your ability to sue is not very valuable.

In bicycles I think thudbuster seatposts are the only example of a successful patent defense I can think of.
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Old 05-27-09, 10:40 AM   #20
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I can see that being an issue with online vendors that are located overseas and doing mail-order. in that case, its tough to sue the end-user because thats your customer. Keeping them out of well-known sites like Amazon or Ebay might be possible with the patent rights related to selling/importing/offers for sale. Marketing would probably be important to discredit the imitations that get through?
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