Outlier Patent Attorneys

Patent Licensing: a 12 Step Dance


Licensing your invention can be an exciting but complex process. Whether you're an individual inventor or a small business owner, it's important to navigate the licensing landscape carefully to protect your interests and maximize your profits. Here are some best practices to consider:

1. Conduct Market Research:

Before you embark on the licensing journey, understand the market demand for your invention. Conduct surveys, study competitors, and try to gauge the potential interest in your product.

2. Protect Your Intellectual Property:

File for intellectual property protection, such as patents, trademarks, or copyrights, depending on the nature of your invention. A Provisional Patent Application (PPA) is often a cost-effective way to start, as it gives you a one-year window to test the market.

3. Create a Comprehensive Sell Sheet:

Prepare a professional-looking sell sheet that provides an overview of your invention. This should include the problem it solves, its unique features, and potential market applications. Include high-quality visuals and possibly even a video demonstration.

4. Identify Target Companies:

Research companies that could benefit from your invention. Look for those that operate in your niche market and have a track record of innovation. Avoid companies that are too large to care about external inventions or too small to bring your product to market successfully.

5. Start Networking:

Leverage your professional network to get introductions to decision-makers in your target companies. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and industry-specific events are excellent places to start.

6. Craft a Tailored Pitch:

Each company is different, so tailor your pitch accordingly. Do your homework on the company's existing product line, their market approach, and how your invention could add value to their offerings.

7. Prepare for Negotiations:

Before you get into any negotiations, know what you want. This often includes a combination of an upfront payment, royalty rates, minimum guarantee payments, and possibly even equity in the licensing company.

8. Hire a Licensing Attorney:

Contracts can be complex, and the stakes are high. Hiring an attorney who specializes in intellectual property and licensing can help you avoid pitfalls and protect your interests.

9. Validate the Partner:

Before signing any agreement, make sure to vet the prospective licensing partner for financial stability, market reputation, and capability to bring your product to market.

10. Pilot Programs:

Consider negotiating a pilot program or a phased rollout, especially if you're dealing with a relatively untested product or a company you haven't worked with before. This allows both parties to test the waters before fully committing.

11. Keep Communication Open:

After the agreement is signed, maintain regular contact with the licensee to monitor the progress of your product's development and market launch.

12. Review and Renegotiate:

Most licensing agreements aren't set in stone forever. Market conditions change, as do company strategies. Periodic reviews of the licensing agreement can provide opportunities for renegotiation, especially if the product proves to be highly successful.

Final Thoughts

Licensing your invention can be a lucrative and rewarding process if done correctly. While the journey from concept to market can be long and filled with challenges, following these best practices will place you on a solid path to a successful licensing deal.

By taking a structured approach to licensing, you can minimize risks and set yourself up for a mutually beneficial partnership that brings your invention to life.