" Take a chance on me."

What if your goal is to patent the invention, build a working prototype and then license it to someone else who will put up the big bucks and do all the work of gearing up for production, distribution, marketing, sales & support? Remember that it's not easy to convince someone to spend a million dollars — especially when it's not their idea. You may be convinced that your brainchild is the next Shirley Temple, but not everyone will agree with you. Others may think that your baby may be something only a mother could love.

Besides, promoting a product to manufacturers is a lot of work and can be very expensive. As we mentioned in the section on invention promotion companies, it takes travel, meetings, and legal experts in several different specialties.

Stories about successful new products usually include a recounting of all the rejections the inventor received from manufacturers and experts. They end with quotes from the same people who now regret not recognizing the product's market potential. The problem is that everyone wants to be second, but no one wants to be first. They'd rather let someone else test the waters.

On the other hand, an inventor may have a solution to a problem that a company is actively trying to solve. The company will be much more willing to listen. But, even in those cases, it can be difficult to get a company to seriously consider an outside idea. They've already tried so many things that they'll quickly find problems with new solutions.

An inventor has a chance if he can get past the scrutiny of the company's engineers with a workable solution that can stand the translation to mass production. Even without a patent, it may be possible to succeed. A manufacturer may be willing to assist in getting a patent so they could license it before others do. They could stop others from using it even if the licensee later found a better solution.

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Ron O'Connor, P.E.

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