Bridging the gap between a promising idea and a patented product can be an exciting time for any first-time inventor. But, as with any business venture, it is important to choose partners wisely. As Palo Alto Software founder and intellectual property advisor Tim Berry explained in a recent guest post for Business Insider, aspiring applicants could quickly find themselves swimming in "shark-filled waters."
Following a recent email inquiry he received from a prospective inventor, Berry was reminded of how quickly a cursory online search can send startups toward a risky proposition. The business owner described a situation in which the private firm he was working with proposed a fee of more than $10,000 for assistance throughout the patent application and product marketing processes.
Yet, as Berry noted, there was no mention of traditional profit-percentage arrangements or anything that would suggest the consulting firm was taking comparable risk or providing any assurances of a successful venture. Worse yet, the applicant seemed to have confused the entity as an extension of his state's patent office.
While the business owner may assume a portion of the blame in this instance, the events highlight the type of diligence that is required from Day 1 of the patenting process. According to the Financial Post, hopeful inventors should first narrow the field of prospective partners to attorneys or agencies with a clear specialization or subject matter expertise related to the proposed product or service.
At the same time, they must also be prepared to deliver a concise explanation of their invention's design components and potential market value. Without this perspective, patent partners will have a much more difficult time creating a responsible and commercially successful strategy.