Typically, the number one reason people conduct patent searches and read patent documents is to see if an invention idea has already been patented by someone else. They totally ignore possible hidden treasures that may also be found in previously issued patent documents. If you have an idea for an invention then you are probability someone that thinks outside of the box. Why stop there? Don’t limit yourself to thinking outside of the box only when inventing. Thinking outside of the box when deciding how to utilize information found in previous patent documents can increase the chances of success with your own invention as well as create other possible ways of making money. Here I am going to show you creative ways to utilize information found in previously issued patent documents including ways that could turn some information into gold. I will not, however, show you every way possible way you can use the information in patent documents. You may come up with new ways yourself that have never been thought of before. Let’s go ahead and take a look at four possible ways to use information found in previously issued patent documents.
1. If you’re looking for a patent attorney or agent to help you with the patenting process, why not take down the names and address of law firms or patent agents you find listed on patent document when conducting a patent search. If the address is not given, conduct a Google type search with the information that is listed. Obviously, just because a firm may have already handled the patenting of an invention similar to yours doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for you. Do you want to know a good source for finding out whether you should consider using the same law firm or patent agent? How about talking to the inventor listed on the patent document? That’s right, call the inventor, introduce yourself and say, “I’m in the process of getting a patent on an invention. I have been looking for a good reputable agent to help me that will charge a reasonable amount. I understand you used so-and-so. Would you recommend them?” In order to locate the contact information of the inventor use a people search tool such as http://www.whitepages.com. Be aware that sometimes the inventors listed on the patent document are working on behalf of a company and was not responsible for hiring the attorney or agent that handled the patent process. In this case, it would not be appropriate to contact the inventor. These types of arrangements and a possible way of identifying them are discussed in more detail later.
2. From previous patents you can also compile a list of assignees that may be interested in licensing your invention. The assignee listed on the patent document is a person or company who was not the inventor, but was issued ownership or part owner of the patent. Most patents that list assignees are ones where the inventor, or inventors work for a company in the company’s research and development department. As part of the employment contract, the company has ownership rights to any invention created by the employee. Patent documents that may involve this type of arrangement are sometimes easy to spot. Some possible signs are when several inventors are listed on the patent and when the invention is highly technical. Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard to determine. If it’s not obvious, you just have to call and ask. Even if the assignee is a company that has a research and development department, it doesn’t mean that they would not be interested in licensing your invention. Since they have already shown that they are in business with products similar to yours, they may also be adding your invention to their product line. If the assignee is an individual, it’s hard to determine why there was an assignment. You’ll never really know until you call and ask. Make a list of assignees and at the right time, don’t be afraid to contact them. If you do not have a patent, prior to revealing any information about your invention make sure to protect yourself by having a non-disclosure or similar type of protection agreement signed.
3. Believe it or not, the most valuable information you can find on a patent document is the name and address of the inventor. (I’m referring to inventors that work in a private capacity and not as an employee of a company.) An inventor of a product similar to yours can be a gold mine of information for you. Most people would be afraid of contacting the inventor thinking of them as a competitor, but I tell you, it is worth the risk of getting the phone hung up on you. Besides, you would be surprised as to how friendly most people really are and how willing they will be to give you advice and share their experiences. Tap into the knowledge they gained through their experience. There will be some people may not want to talk to you, but I’ll say it again, you’ll never know until you ask! If you do decide to contact an inventor remember you are there to collect information, not give information. If they start asking questions that you don’t feel comfortable answering simple say something like “I know you’ll understand why I can’t share that information since I do not have a patent as yet.” Most people will understand and not be offended. You will come across people that failed at being successful with their invention and will try to discourage you. This is where you need to have a thick skin. Listen to what they are saying, for they may share information with you that you really need to consider, but don’t let them steal your dream simply because they failed. The reason for their failure may not apply to you. By the way, you may be able to capitalize off their failure. Read number four below and you will see what I mean.
4. While doing a patent search, if it is found that someone else has already received a patent on the idea, the tendency is for people to stop right there. However, finding a previous patent on an invention idea does not necessarily mean the game is over.ideas for inventions The patent protection may be alive and well, but the inventor’s drive and enthusiasm for their invention may not be. They may have given up trying to make money off their invention. Let me explain. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that once they get a patent on their invention, the money will virtually start rolling in. They have associated the idea of owning a patent as being similar to winning the lottery. They think all they have to do is get the patent, contact a few big companies, license their patent to one, then sit back and wait on the checks. When this does not happen, they see themselves faced with having to run the business. This includes paying for the manufacturing and the costs of marketing to say the least. Faced with this thought, some people get discouraged and give up. There is no telling how many good inventions already patented are collecting dust in garages all over America for this very reason.ideas for inventions I’m talking about inventions that have real potential to make tons of money if handled correctly. To help keep this from happening to you read “Collect Money with Your Invention, Not Dust” by Jack Lander. For inventions where the inventor has given up, would it be possible to buy the rights to such an invention for little money and market it yourself? You bet it would! Some people will be happy to just get back the cost of their patent. Others may rather get a small piece of the pie. I am talking about a very small piece. However, there will be those who would rather let the ship sink than let someone else make money off their baby.