The Inventor's Bible - Quick Reference Guide
Category Inventor Resources

This Quick Reference Pocket Guide is meant to help those schooled in the teaching of The Inventor’s Bible to nail down the critical information needed for your invention project. This Guide will also serve as a checks and balances review for the research you’ve performed in the Workbook. At a minimum, you should be able to answer the following questions about your best manufacturing/licensing candidates.

First Level
  1. Summarize: Which manufacturers/brands most closely match the market position suitable for your invention?
  2. What drives sales? (Example: mostly price, time saving, color, special features—which ones?)
  3. What price ranges/features are most popular?
  4. Who supplies them? (Example: their own warehouse, independent distributor, direct from China, and so on.)
  5. Catalogs and websites? Identify collateral sales in this category.
  6. Trade associations and publications that serve this industry (name, address, URL, telephone)?
  7. Trade shows that serve this industry (dates and locations of shows)?
  8. Ask for referral to other locations to visit that have similar products/technologies in this category.
  9. Ask for referral to another employee or expert who is particularly knowledgeable about this product category. Are they available now?
Second Level
  1. If this were their invention, which manufacturers would they prefer to work with and why?
  2. Which manufacturers have a better presence in foreign markets; which countries?
  3. Which foreign manufacturers are making an aggressive impact in the United States; which sales outlets?
  4. What trends do they see for products in this category?
  5. What barriers do they see in marketing a product in this category?
  6. What features and benefits are driving sales in this product category?
  7. Which other experts in this field do they recommend that you speak with? (Example: authors, engineers, professors, consultants, government agencies, other salespeople, and so on.)
  8. What are the names, titles, and contact information for any individual employees of the manufacturer that they recommend you contact directly?
  9. What are the prominent mail order catalogs for this product category?
  10. What are the URL’s of the prominent websites offering online sales in this product category?
Getting Feedback about Your Invention
  1. Have they ever seen anything like your invention? What did they see, where, and when?
  2. What do they like most about your invention?
  3. Which manufacturer would be most likely to want this product in their product line?
Questions at Trade Shows
  1. Is the company interested in new product ideas relating to (your area of invention or invention catagory)?
  2. Does the company have any history with working with outside inventors and paying them royalties?
  3. Does the person with whom you are speaking make the final decision regarding licensing inventions from the outside? If not, which other people do?
Third Level and Industry Experts
  1. What do they think about the invention concept?
  2. Would an invention like this support your company’s market position, and if so, where would an invention like this fit into your product line? (In which product category, with which other items, in which division of the company, and so on?)
  3. What drives sales in this product category? (Example: price, packaging, features—which ones?)
  4. What are the ideal sales outlets? (Example: mass merchandisers, specialty stores, mail order, and so on.)
  5. How strong is the company in these sales outlets?
  6. What is the general retail price range for a product like this? (At least get a ballpark figure: $5 to $10, under $1, $100 to $150, and so on.)
  7. What is the potential sales volume for a product like this? (Example: 5 to 10 thousand annually, 10 to 50 million annually, and so forth—just get a very broad ballpark here so at least you know how many zeros are in the person’s mind.)
  8. Where do they see the sales? (Example: nationally, regionally, internationally; which countries, and so forth.)
  9. What might be the product life cycle? (Example: five years max in its current form, ten years plus, indefinite, and so on.)
  10. What would be the time frame for introducing your invention, that is how long would it take to get it to the broader market and how long would it take to ramp up sales? (Example: 5 thousand the first year, 20 thousand the second year, 100 thousand the third year, and so on.)
  11. What experience do they have with working with outside inventors, that is, how many outside inventors have they worked with in the past, and when? (This is crucial information.)
  12. Has the company ever paid inventors for unpatented inventions?
  13. What royalty rates are typical in this industry and/or for this company? (Example: 5 percent of net sales, 2 to 3 percent, paid by number of units only, and so forth.)
  14. Does the company typically prefer to purchase patents outright, and do they ever make advance payments?
  15. What experience do they have with manufacturing products similar to yours? Where are such products manufactured?
  16. What experience and resources do they have for engineering, quality control, and service after the sale, and where do they see their strong suits?
  17. How finished do the drawings or working models need to be? (Example: Are they looking for a “looks like” model, or a “works like” model, or both?)
  18. Do they expect to make design improvements and refinement in-house, expect this solely from the inventor, or prefer collaboration between the two?
  19. In what general areas are the company’s strong suits? (Example: marketing, manufacturing, engineering, and so on.)
  20. What market position has the company built for itself? (Example: superior value, low price, highest quality, superior service, and so on.)
  21. How long has the company been in business, and how long under current management? Are there any anticipated changes in management or ownership?
  22. What departments or what people within the company need to be influenced to make the final decision about accepting your invention? Is there any one area that needs convincing more than another?
  23. What other companies do they think would be a better contact for you, that is in a better position to help you, or in a better market position?
  24. What are the greatest barriers or resistance to introducing a new invention like yours, or specifically, what problems do they see with your invention?
  25. What companies offer the stiffest competition in this product category? What are their names and in what cities are they located?
Questions for Recontact
  1. What is the overall impression of the invention?
  2. Was the information you sent them clear and did it thoroughly explain the advantages and benefits of your invention?
  3. What additional information may they need to better fully understand the invention?
  4. Are they interested in further considering your invention?
For a Negative Response
  1. Have they ever seen anything like your invention and what is the closest thing to it they have seen?
  2. Does the invention fit the company’s market or support its market position?
  3. Do they see problems with a product like this and what are they?
  4. Do they see barriers in the market for introducing the invention?
  5. Do they see possible modifications that would make the invention more acceptable? (Example: different size, different features, and so forth.)
  6. Do they see applications for your invention in other markets? Which ones?
  7. Names of other companies that may be in a better position to commercialize the invention? (Get city and state if possible.)
For a Positive Response
  1. What is it about the features and benefits that is most appealing? (Get into specifics here.)
  2. Do they need additional information to enhance their further investigation, and what do they need?
  3. Would they like to meet you in person and see the invention?
  4. What is the internal procedure for further review? Who specifically will be doing the review?
  5. Who reports to whom? Who makes the final decision?
  6. When will the review be complete?
  7. Is it okay to contact the people doing the review to provide further clarification?
  8. What kind of sales volume do they envision for this product over time?
  9. Are they more interested in an outright purchase, or in paying ongoing royalties?
  10. Are they interested in an exclusive arrangement? In which markets, for which applications?
  11. For how long are they interested in an exclusive? (Example: three years, ten years, life of patent, and so forth.)
  12. What foreign markets do they foresee for your invention and in which of these markets does the company have a stronghold or good distribution?
  13. What will be the deciding factor(s) that will determine whether they want to proceed with this project? (Example: If the sales department embraces it, they will go for it; engineering must approve it, and then it goes straight to the owner of the company for final consideration; and so on.)
  14. What is the timeline for learning the final determination?
  15. Is there anything that you, the inventor, can do in the meantime to support or positively influence the final decision? (Example: They may suggest more test data of a particular nature, results of the test market, a working model presented in person, testimonials, and so on.)
  16. What is their gut feeling about the chances of this project proceeding?


Excerpted from, The Inventor’s Bible: How to Market and License Your Brilliant Ideas, Copyright 2001, 2004, Ten Speed Press, a Crown Publishing imprint of Random House, All Rights Reserved.

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