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THE ONLINE INVENTOR -- October 2000

(c) 2000 Market Launchers, Inc.

http://www.marketlaunchers.com

Publisher: Paul Niemann

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Some Famous Infamous Quotes …

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom," -- Robert Milken, Nobel Prize winner in physics, 1923

"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible," -- Lord Kelvin, President Royal Society, 1895

… and my personal favorite, whether it's true or not …

"Everything that CAN be invented has BEEN invented," -- Charles Duell, Director of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899.

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In this issue:

Article # 1:    "INVENTOR PROFILE: Curtis Batts, Inventor of the Tilt-A-Roll," by Paul Niemann

Article # 2:    "Using the Internet to Market Your Invention," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com

Article # 3:    "Licensing: Negotiation," by Mark Davis, inventor of the Eggsersizer .

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Article # 1:    "INVENTOR PROFILE: Curtis Batts, Inventor of the Tilt-A-Roll," by Paul Niemann

EDITOR'S NOTE:    The following success story is one that you're sure to enjoy. It's the story of Curtis Batts, who solved the age-old problem that husbands & wives have had for years: Should the toilet tissue go OVER or UNDER the roll? Curtis has been a customer of ours for over 2 years now, having his own Invention Web Page on our site at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/batts.html. He has worked hard to get an extensive amount of media coverage for his invention.

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Curtis is an industrial engineer for a telecom company in Houston. He has been working on his Tilt-A-Roll for 4 years now, and he got the idea for his new product when he heard about the "OVER & UNDER" issue on a radio talk show; he knew within 2 minutes of hearing about it on the radio that he was onto something! The lesson here is to keep your ears, eyes & mind open for new ideas, and to do your research. You never know when a good idea is going to hit you.

When Tilt-A-Roll was in a patent-pending stage, Curtis did his market surveys in malls, interviewing over 500 people. Eventually the patent issued. After a lot of ingenuity and persistence at this point, it all started to click in October and November, 1999. The story of his invention was picked up by an organization called "Wireless Flash News," which provides its broadcast media and print media subscribers with the daily advance of pop culture news. News stations subscribe to this service just like newspapers and radio stations subscribe to the AP, UPI and Reuters newswires. This led to more than 40 radio interviews for Curtis, which he personally conducted from the comfort of his home and/or office. Radio stations as far away as Australia and Canada interviewed Curtis.

Here's a list of media outlets that ran Tilt-A-Roll stories so far:

          TV:

The "Your New House" show on the Discovery Channel in February (as mentioned at the beginning of this issue), as well as another talk show on November 25 in San Antonio.

          NEWSPAPER ARTICLES:

Global Products, an import/export company out of New York, found Curtis' web page on the MarketLaunchers.com site and is interested in licensing & manufacturing it.

To get this kind of media attention, Curtis continues to call reporters and sends out news releases. Now he's trying to get on Oprah's TV show; he has sent out 10 letters so far. Oprah & Ann Landers talked about the OVER & UNDER issue on Oprah's show 4 years ago.

Curtis is working on getting the Tilt-A-Roll sold in Home Depot, starting with his local Home Depot store with in-store displays. If that works well, then there's a chance that local Home Depot stores nationwide will carry the product.

Curtis said it was tough at times up until this past year. He has 2 favorite sayings about his inventing success: "You won't know until you try" and " If I can do it, anybody can do it."

He is currently developing 2 additional products.

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Pictures of the Tilt-A-Roll can be seen at: http://www.UniqueBathroom.com and at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/batts.html. Tilt-A-Roll comes in white or bronze and is available for $19.95 plus $4.00 S/H by sending a check or money to:

Curtis Batts
407 South Alexander Ave.
Duncanville, TX 75116
E-mail: cbatts@flash.net

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Article # 2:    "Using the Internet to Market Your Invention," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com

I received a phone call last week from an old college friend who had called me way back in the late 1900's (OK, it was last year) to suggest working with him on a videotape project. Earlier this summer we started writing a proposal to obtain funding for the project; then about a month ago he told me that he was taking a new job and would not have time to work on this project any more. That was fine with me, since it can be done as a one-person project anyway.

To make a long story short and to get right to the point -- and there is a point to this story -- he called me on Tuesday to tell me that the company for which he now works produces video for cable and the Internet, and they asked me if I could film a 5-minute video clip or -- as they call it in their industry -- a 5-minute pilot. If I could do this, they said, they could then put it on their web site in order to attract the attention of potential customers for them, as well as to have a sample to show to potential funders for me (in this case, corporate sponsors). The video clip would serve as a nice sample of what they would be buying or sponsoring.

So here's the point: It's much easier for a person to sell his idea if he has a sample of it on the Internet, on a video tape, or in a brochure. Now when I explain this project to corporate sponsors, I will be able to show them exactly what it is that I'm asking them to invest in, rather than trying to explain some abstract idea over the phone.

It's easier for me to sell it this way and, more importantly, it's easier for any future corporate sponsors to buy into it this way.

So if you have a patented or patent-pending product and you're looking for a licensee, put it on a web site, especially if you don't have a brochure or a video clip that shows how your invention works. Even if you do have a brochure or a video, having it on the Internet allows you to show it to your potential licensees INSTANTLY, while you're on the phone with them, as opposed to making them wait 3 days while your brochure goes through the mail and risk them losing interest or forgetting about you in the meantime. Plus, some people cannot visualize things well; rather they need to see a picture(s) of it before they are able to fully comprehend its value.

Sure, I'd like to recommend that you put it on OUR site, but you could also build your own web site. Plus, there are also other sites out there that do what we do. Here are a few of them to consider, in addition to MarketLaunchers.com:

Check them out, and if you like the idea of having your own Invention Web Page to showcase your product, then shop around and see which one best satisfies you. Many inventors have benefited from having their own invention web page on the Internet. The Internet is growing so fast -- some people estimate that it's doubling every 90 days -- that some will be left out unless they carve out their own little piece of cyberspace.

Companies from all over the country (and in other parts of the world, too) search the Internet for new products. Having your invention on the Internet increases the number of companies who will see it and, as a result, pputs your invention in front of more potential qualified licensees. I've served as a Product Scout before, and searched the Internet almost exclusively in my search for new products. As a result, I appreciate the benefit of using the Internet to showcase one's product.

Best of all, you don't have to learn how to build a web site, and, with most companies, getting your own web page for your invention costs much less than building your own web site. If you're considering building your own web site or hiring someone to build one for you, be sure to send for your FREE copy of "Seven Things to Look for When Building a Web Site." Just send me an e-mail with the words, "Web Site Tips" in the subject line, and you'll receive it via e-mail the same day.

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Article # 3:    "Licensing: Negotiation," by Mark Davis, inventor of the Eggsersizer .

LICENSING: NEGOTIATION

To arrive at the license negotiation stage, obviously, a lot of things must have gone right.
Your hard works seems about to pay off. Naturally, this boosts your confidence.

Enjoy the emotional high -- very briefly. Then firmly anchor yourself to Earth. Plenty remains to be done before you can cash any royalty checks.

Now, the stakes have become much greater. You have reached the Big League. Things definitely are going to become more challenging. Your skills must handle the rigors of bargaining effectively to walk away from it as a winner.

At this new level, having your paperwork in order and your presentation polished remain important. Yet self-preparation for what "negotiating a license" means is no less crucial.

In all likelihood, the upcoming scenario will be something like this: Little you will be taking on a big corporation. The prospective licensee's team of lawyers, engineers, and marketing analysts will confront you -- all focused on obtaining the best bargain for their employer. Meanwhile, your focal point will be bartering a deal that supports your interests. Somehow, together, they and you must forge an agreement that serves both parties' goals well.

THE EVALUATION OPTION:

Do not be surprised if the company requests a period of time in which to evaluate your invention -- which most inventors agree to. They want an opportunity to look at your product from every angle. During the examination, they will determine whether they have the equipment and staff to manufacture and market it, how to market it, what the competitions' reaction might be to it, and whether the company can service it.

While all this scrutinizing is going on, the licensing candidate probably will not want you to show the device to anyone else. That could mean weeks of losing opportunities to present the invention to other prospective licensees. For this you deserve to be compensated. Therefore, ask the company for a letter of intent along with compensation. The letter of intent details specifics about the evaluation period. It also states the compensation amount to be paid to you for halting your efforts to license the product elsewhere.

In addition to the compensation payment, the "evaluation period" could benefit you in other ways. After all, would you really want a licensing agreement with a company that did not do its homework? Worse yet, would you want to find out, after the agreement is signed, that the company could not get the product to market? The latter would be particularly bad news if your royalties were based on a percentage of profits generated by sales.

Nonetheless, permitting the analysis involves acceptance of certain risks. As your object is being studied, the company might discover how to make a better product, get around your offering, take a product to market and never pay you a cent for a license.

Horror stories about such happenings circulate throughout the invention community. These make some inventors so distrustful of companies -- so fearful of their inventions being stolen -- that they never show them to anyone. Obviously, that overprotection does not benefit the inventor either.

Instead, let common sense prevail in determining who sees your invention and when. Until someone who can produce the device sees it, your brainchild has no chance of its potential being realized.

What is your best protection when selecting a prospective licensee? Research. Learn as much as you can about the candidate. Be thorough enough to be satisfied that the firm merits your trust.

Next, reinforce this confidence. Engage an attorney with appropriate experience to draw up good, intellectual property protection along with submission and/or non-disclosure agreements.

After your patent, other legal protection and knowledge of the company are in place, you are ready. Take that leap of faith. Disclose your product to the licensing candidate.

AT THE BARGAINING TABLE:

During the negotiation process, try to keep from feeling intimidated. You must deal with stress because it might prompt you to give away too much.

Mentally tell your muscles to relax. Take a deep breath a couple of times. Hold each breath in at the top for a few seconds before slowly exhaling all the way.

Before going into the meeting, get psyched up -- like a football player, moments before a big game, listening to his coach's pep talk and the crowd's roar of anticipation. Over and over, mentally review all the reasons why the company should license your product -- and why you are the person to convince them to do it.

In a football game, being the sole player opposing a formidable "other side" is suicidal. So, don't enter the strategic maneuvering arena alone. Take along someone who can help level the playing field. Enlist the services of an attorney experienced in negotiating licenses to reinforce your position in the meeting.

Has your patent been granted yet? If not, you and the prospective licensee should sign a formal document specifically identifying the intellectual property to be discussed. Do this before any business and commercialization discussions take place. This agreement will, for a stated period of time, provide some protection for your invention. However, recognize that preventing non-signers with access privileges from leaking of information about your invention may be difficult.

Part of your preparations for this meeting requires fine-tuning your foresight. What questions or problems do you anticipate might be brought up by the company in the meeting? What would be the worst case scenario? How might things go wrong? If reality begins to reflect this, how could you diffuse the negatives?

Pre-evaluate possible concessions. What do you want that would cost the potential licensee little to give up? What might he want that you could concede easily? Discuss your decisions on these points with your attorney. This type of strategy planning pays off. In the actual negotiating situation, you have well-thought-out offers and counter-offers to make. Such preparedness enhances your image for being "reasonable."

Every "deal" is different but not the overall goal: The inventor wants to obtain a fair price from the right company to produce his or her product.

Decide before the meeting what your bottom line is. You should not reveal it too early in the negotiations; what is offered to you might be more than you anticipated.

Also prior to negotiations, run a reality check on the feasibility of requests you plan to make of the company. For this, use your colleagues as sounding boards.

In the negotiation, you may be asked to justify your evaluations, including the assumptions on which they are founded. Have that information where you can find it quickly.

Any data you give about your product's potential market size or the impact of its selling price on the quantity demanded, must be creditable. Know how much the production costs should be at various output levels.

Having such factual information shows the licensee that you are not in the dark about the potential worth to him of your product. This provides a foundation supporting the payment amount you can reasonably demand.

Such in-depth planning for the meeting has several benefits: Your confidence in your ability to make this sale will increase. You may avoid making hasty decisions you might regret later. Your well-considered answers to tough questions reflect well on you in the negotiations. In addition, your lawyer knows ahead of time what considerations are important to you. This helps him to prepare for the meeting.

Your analysis of the other negotiation participant probably is not a one-sided endeavor. Before the meeting, the company probably spent a while contemplating what your requirements might be and what trade outs they might make to conclude the negotiation in their favor.

Statistics have the magical property of elasticity, depending upon who is doing the calculating. Be prepared to view that. Several of the client's estimates might be more conservative than yours. For example, his sales figures may be lower and his profit and cost projections higher. Such divergent interpretations are usual fare for negotiation gatherings.

By anticipating this situation, you are half way to handling it. Have answers ready in case the company's representatives ask you about the following:

*    Can you give a personality profile of the type of consumer to whom your invention will appeal?

*    How many of these buyers are there?

*    How much will they pay for the product?

*    What does the competition offer and how can that be beaten?

*    Can you identify at least three significant differences between your product and that of your competition?

Be ready to demonstrate why prospective customers would choose your product over someone else's. Can statements supporting your assertions be obtained from potential customers? If so, presenting documentation supporting your projections of your invention's market value could be very helpful to your cause -- particularly if it was done by a professional marketing firm or comes from a recognized authority in the field. However, expect the company to conduct its own market survey.

In negotiating, remember these points:

*    Be ready to walk if you must, but not too quickly.

*    Do not make threatening statements!

*    Do not take the negotiations personally.

*    Do not get mad.

*    If you say "no" to a proposal, explain why.

*    If you are outraged, say so -- nicely -- and tell why.

*    Be sure your facts are indeed facts by reviewing the data together with the company's negotiator.

The company's financial clout in this discussion probably is much greater than yours. Awareness of this may intimidate you somewhat. However, keep in mind that the firm's financial risk also significantly exceeds yours. In fact, the average licensee's substantial distribution expenses are estimated at 50 to 75 percent of sales by some studies.

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This article is from Mark's book, "From Mind to Market." Mark's first product, the Eggsercizer, sold more than one million units at outlets such as QVC, the Home Shopping Network, and various retail stores. It was also featured on CNN, ABC's 20/20, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Inventors' Digest, Inc. magazine, People magazine, and others. To purchase his book, go to: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0966351509/qid=973376600/sr=1-3/103-9027718-9827846 or just go to: http://www.amazon.com and type in "From Mind to Market" under the heading of BOOKS.

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Feel free to forward "The Online Inventor" to your inventor friends and colleagues. If you change your e-mail address, please subscribe with the new address in order to continue receiving it each month. To unsubscribe, please reply with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line. If you would like to request a topic for an upcoming issue of this newsletter, just send us an e-mail or give us a call. You can view past issues of "The Online Inventor" at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html. Thanks.

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann;
President of MarketLaunchers.com
(800) 337-5758 (within the U.S. and Canada)
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 2000
All Rights Reserved

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Click here to read the August 2000 issue.