FAQ  •   Login  •   Register  •   Subscribe 

Welcome to the Forum for InventorSpot.com, the most popular invention related website in the world. Read our welcome message.

Skip to content

Moderator: citizen


Roger Brown and Tony Fulford Discuss Inventing

Postby tony.fulford » Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:19 am

User avatar
tony.fulford
Green Belt
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:04 pm
Roger and I thought we would do a topic discussing inventing. Roger needs no introduction here at InventorSpot.com. He is one of the great mentors to all inventors here and elsewhere.

We are going to ask each other questions about inventing and encourage all of you to join in and ask either or both of us questions.

To get things started, I would like to ask Roger:

How and why did you get started as an inventor?

Inventing

Postby Roger Brown » Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:11 am

User avatar
Roger Brown
Black Belt
 
Posts: 1178
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:53 pm
Location: USA
First, let me commend Tony for a fun and hopefully interesting method to help other Inventors.

How and why did you get started as an inventor?


I have always looked at things outside the box. As a teen I was coming up with ideas to make doing yardwork and other chores easier and quicker so I had more time to hang out with my friends. I didn't realize at that time I might get paid for these ideas. I just knew it was gaining me what I wanted, which was more time to do fun things.

As an adult I was using it to make my job easier and more efficentat a nuclear facility. Plus, I learned that my employer would pay for ideas that saved labor costs, were safety related, or saved the company business expenses. The company would give you a percentage of the savings (up to a maximum point) of the actual savings.
After earning a couple of hundred dollar awards I started looking at other areas of work for a higher reward target. As with a lot of inventions necessity is the mother of most ideas. One job I had was to put a plastic sleeving over cables and hoses that would go into a radioactive contamination area. It was a tedious and awkward job. Try putting a 200 foot spagetti noodle into a two hundred foot long sock. It would take two people about 35 to 45 minutes to get this accomplished. Now imagine you are doing this for 10 hours a day.
Because of the labor costs my employer decided not sleeve them anymore and just bury these hoses and cables in a radioactive landfill and buy new ones after they were contaminated.
They were burying 1.7 million feet of hoses and cables a year. I thouight about the problem and came up with the SuperSleever. ( You can see it below) It is a tube within a tube with the inner tube holding the sleeving on it. Using this method the user simply slides the hoses within the inner tube grabs it and the plastic sleeving and pulls. As fast as you can pull the hose through it is sleeved. I took a job that needed two people and 35 minutes and condensed it down to one person and around one minute.
This saved the company from having to replace hoses and cables as frequently and the burial costs. The total came to about 4 million dollars a year in savings.

Once I saw the reward from this invention and the fun I had doing it I started looking at outside companies products to see where I could possibly improve or totally reinvent products. I also wanted to come up with my own original products. Since that time I have licensed 7 of my ideas and have others in final development with other companies.
I love the challenge of coming up with a better way of doing something or creating a new product that is fun or makes a persons life easier.

Image
Come visit my sites at http://www.RogerBrown.net
or http://www.looking2license.com
I have gotten 9 products licensed spending less than $100 on each, you can too.

Postby Michelle » Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:48 am

User avatar
Michelle
Black Belt
 
Posts: 1529
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:27 am
I have a question for the two of you.

Many inventors try to go the route of doing all the work to get their invention going and then try to license or sell it after the hard work is done.

You both seem to go about it in a different way.

What do you think are the key benefits to inventors by adopting the License Your Idea, Not Your Invention type approach you both use?

Inventions

Postby Roger Brown » Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:21 am

User avatar
Roger Brown
Black Belt
 
Posts: 1178
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:53 pm
Location: USA
Michelle wrote:
What do you think are the key benefits to inventors by adopting the License Your Idea, Not Your Invention type approach you both use?


Great Question Michelle. I have to say on my part it is a matter of time and labor. If you have only one idea and that is your only focus, building a business around it would probably be the way I would go.
My issue is that I have ideas in the toy, tool, kitchen, eyewear, medical, lawn and garden, and Pet industries. And I am always looking for more avenues to try. This causes a huge problem if you are looking at building a business around these ideas.
You have to learn each individual industry, have the products made,make sales and distribution contacts, Marketing/advertising, shipping and receiving, and any other issues for a business. I don't have time learn and establish this type of heirarchy for each industry I have ideas for. So I look for companies that are already established in these markets and contact them about adding my invention to their line of products. This also gives me the flexibility to move on to the next project.
Another factor is that markets are rollercoasters. When toys are going through a slump I can concentrate on tools or another industry that is having a better market. I am not putting all my eggs in one basket.

I have over 247 different inventions already drawn up and ready for presentation in various markets. The realistic thing is I know that not all of them are hit the ball out of the park ideas, but you also don't really know which ones are bombs. It comes down to that "one mans trash is another man's treasure" I have had ideas that I thought were okay, that I sent in a batch to a company to basically make the batch look bigger and it was the one that I thought was koay and not GREAT that they loved. So, you really don't know.
I have always said if I had the financial backing and resources from someone I would build a business producing the wide array of ideas I have. Until that happens or i hit the lottery I will utlize my best option, which is to license my idea out.
Come visit my sites at http://www.RogerBrown.net
or http://www.looking2license.com
I have gotten 9 products licensed spending less than $100 on each, you can too.

Postby tony.fulford » Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:34 am

User avatar
tony.fulford
Green Belt
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:04 pm
Michelle

First, the inventor is the licensor and the company the inventor will license the idea to is the licensee.

The simple answer is, to have the company pay the cost of the patent application. That said; How is this accomplished?

The inventor and the company negoitiate a licensing agreement. As part of this licensing agreement, hereinafter agreement, the company commits to drawing up and paying for the patent application and the maintenance fees for the life of the patent and commits to protect the patent from infringement. In return, the inventor commits to assign the patent to the company. A patent cannot be assigned through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) until either a provisional or non-provisional application is filed. Once the patent is assigned to the company, the company literally owns the patent as long as they honor the licensing agreement.

It is in the company's best interest to draw up the patent since there may be changes they want and because they will be responsible for protecting the patent.

As and aside, I will be doing a future topic on licensing agreements where I will disect a sample agreement.

Thanks,

Questions

Postby Roger Brown » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:26 pm

User avatar
Roger Brown
Black Belt
 
Posts: 1178
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:53 pm
Location: USA
Tony

Do you do any research before contacting a company for the first time and what is your preferred method of contact?
Come visit my sites at http://www.RogerBrown.net
or http://www.looking2license.com
I have gotten 9 products licensed spending less than $100 on each, you can too.

Question from Roger

Postby tony.fulford » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:13 pm

User avatar
tony.fulford
Green Belt
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:04 pm
Do you do any research before contacting a company for the first time and what is your preferred method of contact?

Yes, I do research on every company before I contact them. You have got to know about them, what they do, and how they do it, if you can. I usually start with ThomasNet to initially find potential companies for my ideas if I do not already have a previous company contact for the particular idea area.

Once I compile a list of companies, I go to Hoover's to find out more about them and their financials. A Hoover's subscription is a small price to pay to know more about a company and the major contacts within the company. After all, you do not want to deal with losers.

If possible, you want to initially contact the Intellectual Property Counsel (or whatever they call it for a particular company) department within a company. Eventually, you are going to be dealing with them anyway. Sometimes, you must go through the marketing organization to get to them.

As to how to contact them, I prefer a phone call first. There is generally less time wasted getting to get to the appropriate person or department. When you talk to them, you want to be as intelligent about their business as you can. This goes a long way to getting you to where you want to be with them.

There are times when you just can't get there from here, so I then go to email, my second choice of contacting them. The last resort is snail mail, which I usually forego. If I can't talk or email them I usually go on to the next company.

Question for Roger

Postby tony.fulford » Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:55 am

User avatar
tony.fulford
Green Belt
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:04 pm
Roger, many inventors struggle to come up with ideas; Do you have techniques you use to come up with ideas?

Ideas

Postby Roger Brown » Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:40 am

User avatar
Roger Brown
Black Belt
 
Posts: 1178
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:53 pm
Location: USA
Tony wrote:
Roger, many inventors struggle to come up with ideas; Do you have techniques you use to come up with ideas?


I believe anyone can learn to come up with ideas. The trick is to also make that a marketable idea. It is just a matter of getting your brain used to looking at things differently. It also helps to keep your mind active by reading, or watching T.V. on a wide variety of topics. There are numerous shows on How things are made, How things work, etc. I love the Discovery channel and the Big Idea Show You can learn so many things there that you might never see in your lifetime. I will even watch the Home Shopping Network or QVC from time to time just to see what kind of products are hitting the market. All these things stimulate the mind and get you thinking.

Another method I use is to wander Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Toys R Us, Home Depot, the Mall and just look at what is out there. When you see something that catches your eye consider if you owned that company what would you do to make your product stick out form the others on the shelf.
Consider this actual situation. There are three companies that make rubber door stoppers. They are all going after the same market and each is selling you a hunk of rubber. When you walk up to the shelf and see the three door stoppers what makes you buy the one you choice? I contacted those three companies and one was open to outside ideas. They told me they sell over 1.5 million door stoppers a year (who would have thought that?) They liked my idea and are currently doing pricing qoutes with their manufacturer. So we will see if it goes any farther.

The best method I use to keep my mind active is to pick a new subject everyday and think of and write down as many improvements to that subject you can come up with. I keep a small notepad with me at all times. You will be surprised that after doing this for a while you can be watching T.V., driving or not even really thinking on the subject and an idea will pop into your head.
I get "Wish Lists" from companies saying send us ideas on these topics. This does one of two things to some Inventors. One they freak out because they don't have anything in that area already done. Two they look at this as an opportunity because they know where they need to focus their thinking.
I enjoy the challenge of trying to go to the next level with a product or idea. Or to "Go where no one has gone before". (That sounds familar) LOL

I challenge all Inventors to try picking a daily subject and coming up with improvements for them. Do it for a month and see if it doesn't start to become easier to do.
Come visit my sites at http://www.RogerBrown.net
or http://www.looking2license.com
I have gotten 9 products licensed spending less than $100 on each, you can too.

Postby mojo62 » Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:47 am

User avatar
mojo62
Black Belt
 
Posts: 1101
Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 4:54 pm
Location: Texas
All very good tips and advice. As a rookie inventor, and one that strives to be a successful one, I have practiced some of the tips you have mentioned. I will be sure to practice more of everything you talk about here and I know these things can advance my inventive success.

Also, just talking to friends, neighbors, co-workers and even total strangers about products they use, and how they could be better for them can be a good idea generator also.

A new mom was telling me some things that could help her to make her new mom experience easier. A good idea came out of a two minute conversation.

Roger, a co-worker of mine had one of your sunglass holders in his vehicle. This is a good example of one of those things that is used everyday by a lot of people. The desire by you to make it easier for yourself and others resulted in a marketable product.

I would like to hear more about when you decide a professional or homemade prototype is essential or desired. I have seen your discussions about prototypes not being needed in all cases. I would like to learn more about how to decide when a prototype is needed or not. This can be in another thread. :wink:

Regards,
MO
Next

cron