A question about holding a patent and getting it marketed.

Ok, say I recently got a patent on a new handgun technology and I wanted to sell it to Remington or one of the other firearms giants. Now, I’m just a regular Joe, I don’t know much about anything except that I had a great idea and I got a patent on it. Where do I start?

I mean, it’s not like I can walk in the door of Remington and go, “look, check this out, I own the patent on it, wanna buy it from me?” can I?

>I own the patent on it, wanna buy it from me?

You can walk in and say that. There isn’t anything outright incorrect about it from your point of view or from theirs.

I don’t know what is the best way to get money for your patent, though. No doubt there is something slicker you can do with Remington and their competitors than a cold call.

I’ve got 7 patents and the rights all belong to my employer. And I also sometimes get called to look at something somebody else has patented to see if we want to buy the rights, and have been called because another company wanted to buy rights to my patent. However, I’ve never done what you are asking about, so these remarks are for what it’s worth from somebody peripherally involved.

All the companies I know well basically don’t buy patent rights from outside inventors. Sometimes they buy rights to successful patents that are already being practiced, often as part of a package deal when they buy a company or a part of one. Many companies don’t like to hear about inventors like this either, because inventors will often later claim that the company stole their ideas in some way. From my point of view inside a big company, it’s amazing how often this happens, in some area where our own development work is already pretty far along but is not publicly known.

Probably, if you have a patent for an intrinsically valuable invention and you aren’t already connected to somebody who would make or practice it, finding some small company that is already interested in spreading into that field would be your best bet.

I’ve got four patents, but more importantly I’ve managed both R&D and collaborations with universities on intellectual property.

The first thing you need to do, before involving anyone else, is to create something like a business case for your invention. You need to research the gun industry to figure out where they are going and what their costs are, and create a model showing how your invention will either save them money or increase their market share. As mentioned, there is a big barrier to using ideas from the outside. There is even a big barrier to using ideas from another group in the same company, I spend 15 years in this environment. Your savings needs to be very significant - the legal costs and risks of adopting something from outside are pretty large.
Next, is your invention compatible with their designs and manufacturing processes? Incremental improvements are much easier to get adopted than major changes. If you are proposing a big redesign or something, you might as well not bother.

If you’ve really convinced yourself that you’ve got a case at this point, you need to find a lawyer and a sales rep who is involved in the industry somehow, and who has some connections to people in the gun companies, and who at least knows who the decision makers are. You’re going to have to convince him first. He won’t be easy to convince, because his salable commodity is his time, and you’re going to have to convince him that your invention will make him enough of a commission to be worth it.

BTW, before you even find this person, you need to run your business case by some trusted friends, friends who are willing to tell you you are nuts. Listen to them. Those with business experience will be best.

Congratulations on inventing something, but the creative part is the easiest part in these matters.

The vast majority of patents never make the owners a dime.

Hey, my two patents for my current company made me a thousand bucks each.

I don’t know if most, but many patents go into big patent pools for big corporations, which are used as leverage to negotiate patent swap deals with other big companies. I doubt if anyone could design a computer without violating a ton of patents owned by competitors, but with the swaps it is not an issue. Patent trolls are a problem because they aren’t interested in actually making anything except money. So, in a sense, lots of patents that are superficially useless make money by helping these deals get done, and thus enabling the design of stuff.

>The vast majority of patents never make the owners a dime.
>Hey, my two patents for my current company made me a thousand bucks each.

Nice. How much have they made the owners?

He’s not going to be readily able to net that out, I expect. As he noted, they go into a big portfolio, may or may not ever make it into a product, and if they do, figuring out how much of the profit from the product is due to a particular portfolio patent is something economists could argue about for a good while.

Thanks guys, very informative information. I definitely have something that will make money, no doubt. It’s just a matter of getting it out there, but like you guys said above, it’s not easy, but possible. I will tell you guys what this invention is later on down the road and keep you guys informed as to what happens. Thanks again !

One other thing. How do you guys feel about trade shows and things similar? Do they help or hurt in your opinion?

You might have more luck with a smaller arms manufacturer than with the big boys…that is if it can be built without a huge investment in specialized tooling. If it is really great, the big boys will pick up on it eventually.

The big thing to understand is that there are not “patent police”. If someone infringes on your patent, your only recourse is to file suit in civil court, at your own expense. This really stacks the deck against the lone inventor. If you educate your self a bit, you can file a pro-se patent for around $500…the problem is that you can’t defend the patent in court without a warchest.

This PDF pretty much agrees with my experience. Sorry to be a wet blanket.

Trade shows I know about. I’m on the steering committee of one, and have done booth duty in my time.

Whether a tradeshow is worth it to you depends on the show and your target audience. Some shows target customers, and some target buyers. ToyFair in New York, for instance, is only open to the industry and the press (which is how I got in.)

You can find the exhibitor list on the website of the show. It might pay for you to just go to the show, go to the booths of the companies you are interested in selling to, and try to collect contact names. (There are often dead times when a booth isn’t very busy.) If you think you have something of interest to attendees, you might want to get a booth, though that is a lot more expensive. Collecting leads during a show is easy, following up and selling them is hard.
What’s your experience with shows? If you’ve never been to any, then I definitely recommend going as an attendee before you go as an exhibitor.
I’m not a professional in this area, but we’ve got people on our steering committee who are.

Another thought. Depending on financial considerations and other items.

Present it as an aftermarket upgrade to get recognition and acceptance as well as experience for yourself. Unless it’s something that depends on the design of Remington you can produce varients for most manufacturers.

Later on you can go to one or more of the manufacturers and talk to them about licensing it as a standard feature.