Can I really sell my idea?

Yes; however, it is important to understand what you need to have in place to increase your odds of success.  As you move your idea through the invention and patent process, your odds of success increase as your idea becomes more tangible and real.

The notion of selling or licensing an idea without any effort or development on behalf of the inventor is a misconception of many inventors.  Although I believe anything is possible, it is important to be realistic about your odds of success with an idea.  Many inventors believe that a company will license or buy their idea and pay a royalty, even though they have not taken the time to move the idea forward with a patent search, patent pending or any type of professional presentation, development or proposal.  This is unlikely; to increase your likelihood of success, you should be prepared to move your idea forward beyond just a concept or thought. 

Next, when it comes to royalties or payment received for licensing your idea, it’s vital that you have realistic expectations.  Don’t expect to receive a 50/50 split on the profits from a company for licensing your idea.  A company may end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars developing, manufacturing and marketing your idea…so a 50/50 split would not be reasonable.  Typically, an average royalty can range from 3-5% of net revenues received by the company for selling the product.  The royalty rate is negotiable and may fluctuate based on the margin and/or sales volume of the product. 

Overall, the key to selling your invention is having a good idea to start with, then taking some steps to protect and effectively present the idea to companies. 

There are no guarantees…

The reality is that there are no guarantees for success.  Regardless of how great your idea is there are absolutely no guarantees that your idea will ever make money.  Great ideas can fail for many reasons, such as poor marketing, lack of market or scarce financial resources.  Additionally, ideas that may seem less than stellar can often make millions for example, the Pet Rock or Chia Pet.  The invention process can be exciting and rewarding; however, you’ll need to approach the process with realistic expectations and a willingness to do what it takes to succeed.

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Russell Williams cofounded and to assist inventors and entrepreneurs through the patent and invention development and marketing process. He’s been asked nearly every invention-related question in the book, and shares his wisdom in an article series, “Inventor Q&A”.


Pet Rock.
Image by g33kgrrl via Flickr

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