Inventor FAQs

"In your 20 years of practice, what is the single biggest problem inventors have".

Nobody wants the invention.  The invention does not really solve any problem, or it solves a problem less effectively than many already-existing products.  We see this problem more than all other factors combined.  In fact, it is our default setting when we meet a new inventor.  We always assume this scenario until proven otherwise. In 20 years of practice, this is the scenario more than 90% of the time.  Nobody wants the invention.

"In your 20 years of practice, what is the second single biggest problem inventors have".

The inventors lack sufficient capital to bring the product to market.  They simply do not have enough money to manage all the necessary expenses of getting an invention into a sellable format, and then actually achieving sales.

This is understandable because its usually pretty expensive and complex to getting an invention into a sellable format, and then actually achieving sales.  A lot of factors must work together in a proper way.  A lot of things can go wrong, many of which are beyond the control of the inventor.

"In your 20 years of practice, what is the third single biggest problem inventors have".

The inventors are trying to enter an industry they are not familiar with.  In estimating an inventor's chances of success, one factor is how many different obstacles have they already overcome as part of their day-job.

If their day-job is in field X, and their invention is in field X, that scenario has a higher chance of achieving economic success.

If their day-job is in field X, and their invention is in field Y, that scenario has a lower chance of achieving economic success.

If the do not have a day-job at all, pursuing an invention often ends up being more of an expensive hobby than anything resembling an actual business.

"Will you do your patent-work for a share in the invention?" 

No.  Never.  

If you cannot self-fund your invention, you should not be pursuing it until you can the funds. Further, the only service providers who are any good will require payment in-cash. Up-front.  Ahead of time.

"When I get paid, you get paid".

This is the same thing as saying "no one will ever get paid".  Pass.  Good luck.

"I just want to sell the idea".

Never happens.  Forget it.  Any licensee worth having will want to see 1) a proven track record of actual sales, 2) an actual-working model, and 3) some indication of customer-acceptance.

These 1) and 2) and 3) cost money and time to build, and are necessary in order to even begin the process of licensing an invention.  Further, even if you have all these 1) and 2) and 3), you may still lose every cent you put in.

People, inventions are not for the faint-hearted, and not for the under-capitalized.  If you don't have enough money to pursue an invention, you should stop right there until you do.  Hoping that the money comes along later will not happen, never happens, unrealistic, forget it.

"I can't afford your rates".

Good.  Glad you said so.  No problem.  You probably can't afford to be pursuing an invention anyway. I wish more clients would say this at the outset.  

Do not pursue an invention unless you have sufficient capital, at the beginning, to carry it all the way to market.  Do not hope the money comes in later.  Also, anything you pay a service provider, do not later try to request they return the money because the invention didn't do well.

"I can raise the money though Crowdfunding".

Doubt it.  Unlikely.  >70% of crowdfunding campaigns fail. Also, a good crowdfunding campaign often requires spending up-front capital, and a lot of work and effort, prior to launch.  You might spend $3.5K to get a yield of e.g. $13.5K e.g. 4 months later.

"Can you find me someone to help make my invention?".

Yes.  This law firm has been assisting inventors with finding appropriate service providers since 2003.  However, plan on spending money.  No decent service provider will work for a share of the invention.  All work for cash, non-refundable, must be paid in advance.  Payment is never contingent on the invention’s success.  Never.

Next, inventors who ask this question early, are usually better clients and more astute about their prospects.  We wish more people would ask this question. Getting your invention properly made, and sold, is much much more important than your patent protection.  By a factor of about 20:1.  Patents have their place, yes, but getting the invention made and sold or at least sellable-condition is much more important.

"If I could just get 1% of the market . . .".

This inventor should be saying "If I could just make one unit, and have one successful sale . . .".  That should be the goal.  No ever starts with "1% of the market".  They start with -one sale-. Also, people who use this expression (a common inventor-psychosis) clearly do not understand "the market".

"Should we wait until a patent issues before licensing?"

No.  Worst and dumbest, most piss-poor advice ever given.  Hugely self-defeating. First, this "wait" could be a long time, perhaps 2 or 3 years.  During that time you should be out there proving your market, using the "patent pending" designation.  Patents do not come quickly.

Second, you may not ever get a patent!

Many perfectly solid patent applications do not ever result in a patent!  There are over 2600 different patent Examiners, each with a different style and job-responsibilities.  Do not fall into the trap of false-assurance that you are certain to be awarded a patent.  This is never a certainty.  It does not matter whether you had a patent search done by an attorney or not, get rid of this certainty!  It doesn't exist.  Its a fallacy, a canard.

"This invention will sell itself"

No invention ever "sells itself".  This does not happen. If you think this, you are in the wrong business.  Get rid of your "inventor's psychosis". Further, if it really "sold itself", why isn't it selling?  Why have you never sold any units?

"Should I go to trade shows?"

Yes. You probably won't succeed without going to trade shows. In this day of constant Internet communication, oversharing, etc,  there is a growing movement and backlash of people who want to meet and do business in person. Many persons with significant influence don't want to do business with someone they have never met.

Further, trade shows provide an excellent way to better understand one's market, and be around people in a specific, targeted industry and see examples of successful products.  But these cost money.


Those clients of ours that refuse to do this, we end up -firing- them.

"What if someone steals my invention?"

Why would they want to?  Many inventions take at least 1 year of full-time work before they begin to return any capital at all.  Who would want to "steal" a full-time job for no pay?

The people who say this, have a type of "persecution psychosis" and/or "inventors psychosis".  

Almost always, the people who take this position, their idea is 1) already in existence, and has been for many years AND\OR 2) pedestrian, boring, solves a (perceived) problem that does not actually exist, thus not worth stealing in the first place.

Again, these people who over-focus on this question need a psychiatrist, not an attorney.

"What about the inventor with the windshield wipers?"

The inventor with the windshield wipers was Dr. Robert Kearns, subject of the film "Flash of Genius" (2008), starring Greg Kinnear. Originally, Ford was interested in working with Dr. Kearns, totally on-the-level and will to pay fair value for his inventions.  But Dr. Kearns, mentally unstable and having an extremely hostile and unpleasant personality, made himself so difficult to work with that in the end he screwed himself out of every good chance he had.

This is an excellent, interesting story, but is a statistical anomaly. Do not expect this type of problem to happen to you.

"Should I do a patent search prior to pursuing this invention?"

You should do a search, yes, but that search should be of the marketplace, not patents, and should encompass other similar products that have achieved commercial success in this marketplace, and why.


Many successful inventions do not have patents.  Meanwhile, many patented inventions never make a dime, but instead cost their owners a great deal of money.  This is one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of bringing an invention to market.  The importance of patents is wildly misunderstood.  The nexus or joinder between patents and commercial success is extremely tenuous.