Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Award-Winning-Invention a Marketplace Loser?

You have an invention, and it works. Success is yours? Success takes a bit more than that.

Article in today's WSJ. A bionic wrench. It works, it works better than others. It has garnered multiple distinguished product-design awards. It has racked up almost a million in sales revenue (gross, not net). A marketplace loser?

Issues - retail price too high, made in the U.S. (which accounts for some of the high price), cheaper substitutes coming out on market, single-product business, etc.

And that's a product recognized as having significant value.

Article also recounts the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of "new product offerings" in the hand tool field alone that are pushed to the folks who select the product lines sold at Sears, Home Depot, etc. And only a few are even given a chance, and if they don't make the sales quotas, the chance is over.

As one such person put it, there are new-product-wanna-be's and innovations. Most are the former, and few are the latter. And even the latter won't make it if there are not enough buyers at the price.

If anyone tells you that what you have is a great idea and is bound to succeed, run. Run fast. That person wants your money. He does not even want to steal your idea, just your money.

Be naive, or be a little wiser. Take a hard, critical look at what you think is a good idea. How much can it be made for? Triple or quadruple that to ballpark the retail price. Will anyone buy it for that price? Yes, then the next question. Will lots and lots of people buy it for that price? Do they already have something else that works well enough?

Try it out. Try auctioning it off on eBay or wherever. If it does not generate a lot of interest, and a lot of bids, you have your answer. You have a loser. If instead there is a lot of interest, and a lot of bids, perhaps you have a winner. But still be cautious.

Information on patent protection, a must-have if you do have a marketplace-successful product, is available on the USPTO website at
www.uspto.gov and my website at www.noreklaw.com

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Better Mousetraps

The Wall Street Journal has an article in today's paper about better, or not so better, mousetraps.

The featured inventor patented an electrocution-type mouse trap. I forgot to search out the patent before writing this, so no comments on patent quality or scope. The electrocution device caught the eye of an established mousetrap company and the parties are now in a patent infringement litigation. (The established company put out their own version.)

According to the WSJ, more than 40,000 U.S. mousetrap patents have been issued over the years. Obviously well over 99 percent of them have never made it to anyone's local hardware store. One of them, however, made it to the Internet.

The Internet-marketed mousetrap is also patented. It does not electrocute anything, but instead is a catch-and-release device. The inventor apparently got the product out there on his own, and took four years doing it, but now sells 20,000 per year on the Internet. Not a million dollar enterprise, but hats off to him nonetheless. In the mousetrap field, it ain't easy.

More information on patents on the USPTO official website at
www.uspto.gov and on my website at www.noreklaw.com