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American Inventor's $1 million prize

Postby AmericanCynic » Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:11 pm

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So the terms of the show says the winner gets a $1 million advance against net royalties from the sales of the finished product. People have also said that all of the season 1 finalists were released from their license agreements. Presumably, this also includes Janusz. So am I to assume he never got the $1 million? I guess this show gets lets expensive to produce every time I look at it. "We're offering everyone a chance to win a million dollars. But if you're the winner and we choose to not produce your product (which we can do because we are not contractually obliged to do so), we don't have to give you one red cent because that's what's in the contract. No profits, no prize."

------------------------
The cynic has left the building

Postby Road Show » Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:42 pm

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This is speculation. Would be interesting if you had anything to substantiate your suspicions. The show's profit is based on revenue generated through advertising related to ratings, and not on rescinded promises. I am not a fan of how this show bills itself as an inventor's show without delivering, but I cannot imagine the level of sophistication required to con the entire country out of the grand prize and still hope to be viable. Are you just trying to live up to your pen name, Cynic?

RSG

Postby AmericanCynic » Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:34 pm

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Read it again, Road Show. I wasn't speculating. I was asking if anyone did know whether or not he actually received the prize. We all know he got a job out of it, but did he get the million? And it doesn't take sophistication to back out. Fremantle's legal eagles specificially worded the agreement thusly:

"The winning inventor will grant to producer and network an exclusive, worldwide perpetual license of all rights in the winning invention (with possible right of reversion in the event the invention is not exploited by producer or its designee after a period of five years). In consideration of the grant of such license, the winner gets one million dollars as an advance against net royalties which are generated through the exploitation of the winning product."


It doesn't take Perry Mason to figure out that if it's an advance against royalties, it's completely winnable in court to say no royalties=no million. Fremantle can also make a very poor attempt at marketing the product or trying to find a licensee, then when it fails, say again that there's no profit therefore the advance must be returned. If they really wanted to remove all suspicion, they could easily just make it a no-strings-attached prize, like a thousand other shows out there from The Price Is Right to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to 1 vs. 100 to Show Me the Money to Deal or No Deal. Show me any other game show or contest that has such a restriction.

By your reasoning, if ratings are all Fremantle cares about, then they won't really care about producing or licensing the winning invention, either. So why connect the winnings to revenue they're not really interested in?

And yes, I am a cynic. Skepticism isn't such a bad thing. In 2003, I was very skeptical of a certain president making a mad dash to war. I wanted the other shoe to drop. It has since dropped and we all see the disastrous results today.

Postby Road Show » Sat Jul 07, 2007 7:15 am

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You may be right, Cynic. There may be a way for Freemantle to back out of this legally. I agree that doing so does not require sophistication, it's the selling of the show after reneging on the deal that would require a touch of finesse. As far as the contract, isn't the wording fairly standard for IP licensing agreements? Can they take back an advance? Maybe Roger is familiar with how advances of royalties are handled in law.

Roger?

RSG

Postby 5rocks » Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:44 am

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Hello. Yes, he did get the million dollars and was able to keep it. Trust me, ABC is not worried about the million dollars they gave to him. It is not about the invention just as American Idol isn't really about the singer. American Idol is about text message vote charges to the tune of $50 million per week and advertising dollars. Same thing with American Inventor. The concept is just the vehicle to which the advertisers show their product. No different than a magazine. The content only brings the viewers/readers to the table for the advertisers. If ABC chooses to sell his product, they get the first one-million $$$ made and Januzs gets 25% royalties on profit after that, not revenue. He was working with Evenflo for over a year, but I think they just recently transferred everything over to a design company. The problem with this whole thing is, 25% of what? The inventor doesn't even get to negotiate a manufacturing contract. Basically, no control over anything for 7 years. The rules say that you never lose ownership, but they fail to initially tell everyone that you lose all rights to sell it on your own. ABC gets first right-of-refusal. We all have since been released to go out on our own. Funny thing is, they actually released the rest of the top 12 before they released those of us that finished in the top 24. Weird, huh? most of us that finished in the top 24 were farther along than the others with our products. On the show, when Peter cut me he said, "I wish you luck, but you don't fit the criteria".
Off camera I was told that I was finally cut for 3 reasons.

1. "Your product is cool, but you don't have a compelling story".
2. "You are too far along with your design and don't need the show".
3. "You are too smart to give the judges anything to banter about"

What?

The contract scared almost everyone that was in the finals. None of us from season #1 saw the last contract until 1 day before flying to Hollywood for the cut from 50-24-12. My lawyer said, "Win the million or hope to finish just outside the top 12". I asked him why and he said because if you finish outside the top 12 you will get the most exposure with the least amount of attachment to ABC/Fremantle. That is just what happened to us although we didn't get much airtime because we didn't cry, argue or cause a scene. The real reality is, simply getting on the show with an interesting invention isn't enough in the execs eyes to go on primetime.

Have a great day,

Pat Rock
www.thetakeaseat.com

Postby AmericanCynic » Sat Jul 07, 2007 11:17 pm

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That's what I wanted to know.

Actually, isn't it more than seven years? The FAQ at AmericanInventor.TV says "The winning inventor will grant to producer and network an exclusive, worldwide perpetual license of all rights in the winning invention." Although "perpetual" really comes down to 17 years from the date you get the patent. No reason to keep a license on something once it enters the public domain.

I can understand them wanting to push a product that needed more work than one that was basically finished. But then again, that should have taken out the Sackmaster. I guess he had a more "compelling story."

cron