(C) 1999 Market Launchers, Inc. -- April 1999


Publisher:  Paul Niemann

E-mail: [email protected]



In last month's issue, I asked you to send me your stories - stories on what has worked well for you, what you've done that hasn't worked well for you, and on what you've heard from other inventors that has, or has not, worked well for them.

The stories that you sent in are printed below, and I thank you for sending them. As promised, I put these inventors' names into the hat, and had my dog, "Patent," pull 2 names out of the hat to receive an autographed copy of Tom Mosley's book, "Marketing Your Invention" (personally autographed by Tom).

The point of all this is to learn from other people's experiences - after all, why re-invent the wheel?

Finally, if you change your e-mail address, please remember to re-subscribe with your new e-mail address; otherwise, I won't be able to get future issues out to you.


Here are the stories sent in by inventors:

Dear Paul:

Thank you for your very informative newsletter.

I am not an inventor in the sense that that was what I have set out to be, I think. It kind of happened that one day I got a nagging urge to get a concept and thought out of my mind. After ignoring it for about one year, I had to acknowledge that I had succumbed to a programme of solitary confinement and torture - doing something about it.

The thought was to incorporate, in a manual tooth brush, the adjustability of the hardness of the brush so as to better fit the dynamics of choice, health, sensitivity of gums of the customers. The manual toothbrush requires urgent re-invention as it has not developed much since the 17th century.

The invention was researched and developed in great detail. The process resulted in "going back to the drawing board a number of times" until it was developed to an advanced stage. It is now in a form of a provisional patent and I am about to embark on the approach to manufacturers once again.

In addressing your topics of interest, the things that worked well were:

1.    Approaching major manufacturers and discussing the concepts with them
2.    Interacting with the factory engineers to establish the manufacturing constraints
3.    Getting a good idea of what would be a "slight" deviation from their process and what would be regarded as "major disruption"
4.    How the manufacturer would perceive the innovation - and what threats it may pose to their existing product range
5.    What other unrelated factors would need to be addressed before they would entertain embarking on this project
6.    Purchasing a good book and studying the legal principles of patenting while developing the product
7.    Working closely with the patent attorney so as to maximise the "quality" of the patent wording and interpretation.

The things that did not work well:

1.    Employing the services of a "product packager/evaluator/marketer" from Washington - represented in London. Ouch!

2.    Relying on such organisations as in 1 above even in legal searches. (They missed some prior art registered in Washington - their home address). It should be noted that the total time spent with the manufacturer was approximately 3 hours. The implementation and development which resulted from this interface lasted 10 months. This feedback resulted in not only a much more thorough process but also at least one major breakthrough (which became the patented concept).

I must emphasise that I am so satisfied with the patent document and wording that I would have no problem to present it to the likes of Oral B, etc. This gives rise to a measure of confidence which is rarely, if ever, discussed. This is only achieved if the inventor studies the principles of patenting and carefully intertwines these principles into the innovation -- keeping these principles very much in focus - and using a co-operating patent attorney who appreciates and values the input of the inventor (once he has done his homework!)

I am sure you must have come across many inventors who passionately believe in their product - well here is one more - BUT with some difference, perhaps:

In order to substantiate my enthusiasm the following aspects have been addressed:

1.    I have studied the market, the need and the manufacturing process

2.    I have no doubt that the product will be accepted by the market - as it is a quantum shift in innovation, and addresses real needs at a competitive price.

3.    The product has been developed with the macro trends in mind - these are the major trends that affect the toothbrush market. In so doing I drew parallels to the shaving market (with Gillette and Wilkinson innovations, etc.) and the pen industry, for example.

4.    I have addressed the peculiarities of the industry in the invention. These are low margins, ease of manufacture, economies of scale, strong marketing channels, fashion leanings and the need for real and sustainable innovation to steal market share in an extremely mature industry.

5.    I am aware of my limitations in seeking to bring this product to market and have developed a list of requirements of the licensee which would address my relative weaknesses and capitalise on the product's competitive advantages.

6.    I have prepared the necessary documentation which clearly sets out the product, how it fits in the industry, what the value added benefits are, how the innovation achieves these benefits, what competitive strengths and advantages would flow to the introducing organisation.

I am currently in negotiation with a manufacturer but I obviously wish to maximise the approach as much as possible. It is with this in mind that I thought of taking you up on the invitation to share some aspects with you and at the same time see whether there are additional strategies that I should be considering.

Please feel free to contact me if you wish to clarify any aspect of my note. A lot of water has already passed under the bridge - so in the interest of brevity I have not laboured on any one point for too long.

I look forward hearing from you.

Best Regards,



"Hindsite is 20/20"

If only we could have tomorrow's knowledge, live it yesterday, then today would be perfect! Unfortunately, we can't so the people who make the most from their "learning experiences" usually have the most success in their lives. Here is our story:

About nine years ago, when my wife and I were dating, I was living in a nice apartment, on the second floor, overlooking the pool. I'll never forget the first time I invited her over for a meal. It was a warm, moonlit night - we were out on the balcony looking out over the pool, sipping nice wine and having a great conversation, while I was barbecuing steaks. The setting was perfect for a romantic evening. When dinner was ready, I took her by the hand and led her inside to the table. Yes, the dinner was great, but the atmosphere was gone! It was then that she started her wheels turning. The balcony was too narrow for patio furniture - but there had to be a way for anyone living in apartments and condos to enjoy outside dining.

She then came up with the idea of a portable, adjustable counter that hangs from a railing - and our invention was born. Several years passed before we actually started working on our invention. It took another year before it was perfected to accommodate all types of railings, and we made our own full-scale prototype, which works great. NOW WHAT?

Our first mistake was getting involved with someone who sold us on his knowledge of the invention business and his savvy with the computer and the Internet. At the time, we didn't have a computer and we know NOTHING about the process of inventing. Instead of doing our own homework, we took the easy route and hired him as our "manager."

He then tool a significant amount of our money and hired a marketing company. This company wouldn't give us the time of day when we called with questions. Nine months (which was supposed to be 3 months) we ended up with a very attractive "marketing book" which said all sorts of wonderful things about our invention    (most of what it said was useless info). When we finally got the book, the cover was embossed in gold letters with the inventor's name (they put our manager's name, not ours).

I won't reveal the name of the company, but you might figure it out when I say: It's not necessary to Spend a lot of money when Contracting out for help with your Invention.

It was at this point that we finally decided to make our own decisions, this time leery of scam artists, and trusting nobody. However, I don't recommend this way of thinking because eventually you have to put trust in someone who could help you ... and they are out there. The first thing we did is buy a computer. I can't imagine doing this without one. Also, a FAX machine is a very good, inexpensive investment. We also bought a book entitled, "How to License Your Million Dollar Idea" by Harvey Reese. This book has become our "bible" and is loaded with great ideas and advice. Eventually, we filed a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) to allow us a year to "test the waters" before shelling out the big bucks for a utility patent. One word of advice on this ... be sure your invention is ready to show at this point, because before you know it, your year is up and it's time to file the paperwork for the utility patent, or else you lose your first filing date (from the PPA).

If you are a first-time inventor, and take your idea to this stage, how you proceed from here will be critical in terms of money spent and possible success in marketing or licensing your invention. Paul Niemann's latest newsletter (March 1999) has valuable advice and is worth reading carefully. Mr. Niemann talks about how we can invent our idea over and over, perfecting it more and more, because we can't bring ourselves to picking up the phone to make contacts and appointments to show our ideas to manufacturers. This is also true with us. The fear of rejection is horrifying, and to come to the realization that your product may die after all your hard work and money spent, is almost too much to bear! But, if you don't get over this fear, all you will have to show for your hard work may be a very expensive framed patent which you can hang on your wall and admire for the rest of whatever.

If you decide on a company to help you, be smart, do your homework, investigate the company thoroughly BEFORE you contact them, and never, ever pay a large amount of money up front for promises that probably never be kept.

A great source of information on the Internet is called, "The National inventor Fraud Center" at www.inventorfraud.com. This web site will give you a list of good guys and bad guys; however, not every company is on their lists. There is a lot of other useful information and links to be obtained from this site.

I hope our story has been useful and inspirational to you for your own quest for riches. We don't pretend to be experts in the field, and we still have a long way to go. We will always have a dream and a will to succeed and get ahead.

I would like to leave you with a thought that I wrote many years ago and still live by: "Believe in yourself that what you WANT to happen already has; and if you do, then it will."


Bill Marble

To see the Portable Adjustable Counter that Bill and his wife have created, please go to: http://www.marketlaunchers.com/Marble.html


I received your online newsletter and found it to be interesting, thank you. I would like to brief you on my involvement with inventions, and after a long struggle what I found to work the best for me. I think most inventors will agree that the easy part is inventing and after that, the struggle begins. From my experience as an inventor and from talking to other inventors, I know the most difficult task is finding someone who believes in your invention and is willing to invest capital for development cost. As we are well aware, developing an invention to the first prototype stage is classified as risk capital and most inventors, big or small, are skeptical of this type of investment.

One way to reduce some of this risk is for the inventor to try and build a working prototype of the invention, that is if it is not too complicated. Even a crude prototype will be better than just a drawing on a piece of paper. At least this stage of development gives you something to present to investors which will give them a better insight of what the production product will look like. In my dealings of searching for capital, I found that a lot of decision makers are not mechanically inclined, and sometimes cannot visualize the design, function or improvement of the invention, whereas some kind of a prototype would be very helpful and could make the difference in getting the capital, or not getting it.

The next question that is most often asked in a presentation is what kind of a market is out there for this invention. If you cannot answer this question or you say that you never thought about the marketing aspect of the invention, right then and there you have built a wall between you and the investor with regards to getting them to invest in your invention, at least until you show them some kind of a market study.

A preliminary market study doesn't necessarily have to be expensive. A lot of research can be done at your local library. Maybe you could find a student who is doing marketing courses that would be willing to do a market study for a small fee. Some sectors of business are supported by trade magazines, e.g. Gardening, Automotive, Recreational Vehicles and Sports, to name a few. You will most likely pull some numbers out of the hat by contacting the publishers of these magazines. It may not be suitable for your business plan, but it will give you an idea of the size of the overall market.

What has worked well for me? Finding a business partner. I am currently working on three inventions and I have very little working capital. My first invention was a recreational vehicle. I built my first prototype a few years ago, and after a considerable amount of testing, I concluded that it needed some improvements to make it function properly. I managed to find a small research and development company to build the second prototype and pay for the patents for me in return for equity in the invention. The second prototype proved that the technology worked the way it was intended to and then I knew the next phase would be commercialization. This usually is the long hard battle to success. Well, I am not there yet but I just recently found a partner who believed in my product and we are now in the process of getting ready to build the pre-production prototype, and planning for production. We have a ways to go yet before it is ready for the market, but we are slowly moving forward. I did a lot of work on this project before I was ready to search for a partner to commercialize this product. It included hours of testing the prototypes, a market study, a distributors' survey and a business plan. In other words I did my homework. It wasn't easy but I knew it had to be done and I slowly did it step by step until I felt comfortable with the end result before thinking about commercialization. Another important partner in this invention that I had from the beginning and who supported me through the good and bad times is my wife. She is working a full time job while I am developing my inventions full time and without her support I probably would not have gotten to where I am now.

My second invention is an educational action computer game. I did a prototype on paper to display the functions of the game that would be suitable for presentations. I was lucky with this invention, as I had met a student who had just graduated with a computer science degree with some experience in developing games. I formed a partnership with him to develop my game for equity in the game. We may try and sell it on the Internet when it is ready or probably try and license it to a company. I have to admit I did not do a lot of homework on this one so far. Sometimes you can get lucky but it is best not to sit back and trust to your luck.

My third invention is a garden product. I built two prototypes of this invention and tested them over a two-year period; they work very well. I tried the same approach with this invention and found a company manufacturing and marketing garden-related products. This company built two crude prototypes of my invention and tested them last summer. They were pleased with the test results. I am now refining the prototype and doing costing for production. They are showing interest in becoming a partner. We have not formed a partnership at this point in time but the potential is still there.

What I have done that hasn't worked well is trying to license an invention to a large company. I think it is very difficult, especially without a pre-production prototype. From my experience with most companies, if you have all of your homework completed, that is, a quality tested prototype, patents or patent pending, market research and even a test market of your invention, then you have a chance of them becoming involved. This is especially accurate in trying to license games to a company. Another approach I found that didn't work well is trying to attract investors or partners that did not have an interest in the type of technology I was trying to sell them on. I did a lot of searching before I found a suitable partner. They were individuals who had an interest in my type of technology. I firmly believe that this is the approach that works best.

What I heard from other inventors that hasn't work well for them is basically the same that did not work for me in the beginning. That is trying to license an invention to a company, or to attract inventors without doing the proper homework, such as no prototype, or a prototype that's not good enough for a presentation, no patent applied for and no work done on the market aspect of the product. In other words, I know it will work and I also know everyone will buy it. This is great for the inventor to believe, but it is not convincing enough for an investor to open their purse to you.

In conclusion, becoming a successful inventor requires a lot of hard work and most often a lot of working capital. I firmly believe it can be conquered if you are willing to put a lot of time and effort into putting together a presentable presentation. In most cases hard work can compensate for some of the working capital. Get all of your homework completed and try and find the right company or the right investor who you think would be compatible with your invention. For example, you would not try to sell an invention of a garden product to a company manufacturing automobile parts. One reason is that their markets would be completely different, nor would an investor investing in real estate be likely to invest in technology or some type of gadget.

I try and save money by drafting my own patents. It works. Who knows the invention any better than the inventor? The person drafting the patent certainly needs to have a broad knowledge of the invention, especially of its functions. I would think a lot of inventors could do the same if they really put their minds to it. If someone did not have enough confidence to draft and file their patent they could have it checked by a patent attorney before filing. This is probably the safest way to do it since patent protection is only as good as the patent is drafted, especially the wording of the claims. I agree the provisional patent application is a cost-effective way for inventors to get protection on their invention for a year and feel safe in showing it around. I applied for one of these myself.

If you decide to publish this article, please do not use my name at this point in time as some of my negotiations are still ongoing. I also think your data base is a worthwhile tool and it should be beneficial for inventors seeking investors or companies to license their invention to. I may need to avail of that service in the near future. The only problem with that is I am from Canada and the $75.00 fee is over $100.00 Canadian for me.

Keep up the good work.




Hi Mr. Niemann:

My name is Thomas E. Cummings, Jr. I am from the state of Hawaii. I have been trying to market my inventions from as far back as March of 1993. Today, after years of research, mistakes and heartaches, I have finally found a company that is on the up and up and is promoting one of my inventions. They are called "Franksville Investments." They are located in Wisconsin. They are very selective of the inventions that they work with. There is a one-time fee of $29.95 for paperwork that they send to you to protect your idea or ideas, regardless of how many ideas you would like to have them evaluate. And that's it.

They will look for an interested manufacturer to buy your invention. If they find one and a deal is set, they will get a percentage of what you get in royalties. They don't ask for money up front. This appears to be a venture that is working out fairly well for me. As far as what has not worked out well for me goes back to March of 1993. At that time I feel into a pit of horror's with a company that is called: The National Idea Center. At that time they worked out of Washington D.C., I'm not sure if they still exist. This was my first experience and they promised me the world. And I believed them. They use allot of pressure tactics. They say things like "we need this much money before a certain date so we can enter your idea into various trade shows around the world." They will not do anything until they receive money upfront. I sent them a check for $695.00 for them to do what's called a Techno Report.

After approximately one month, you get contacted and the salesman tells you that they want to take your idea to the next step, which they call a "Promotion Agreement". This is when they hit you for the big bucks. They asked me for $6,645.00. And like a dummy, I sent them a check. I have dreaded doing that ever since. The salesman is so good, you believe every word that he tells you. Why? Because you truly believe that your invention is that good. And nine out of ten times, your invention is probably not good at all. What I have learned is: If any company asks you to put that type of money upfront, walk away and stay as far away as you can. Do not talk to them ever again. I learned the hard way. Do research on any company that you plan on doing business with. Get on the Internet and look for companies that have legal lawsuits against them. There is a whole listing of the fraudulent companies that are waiting to rip you off big time. The "National Idea Center" is one of many. Do not be in a rush to promote your idea. Take your time and do your homework, it will save you thousands of dollars. You can promote your idea by yourself. However, it's a difficult task. Why? Because unless you are established, most manufacturers won't even respond to your letters or messages. They didn't for me and they probably won't for you. Out of approximately 300 manufacturers, only 6 responded for me. And none were interested in my idea. It's not easy, for now my experience and research tells me to find a company that is established and who doesn't ask for money upfront. I'm running out of time right now. However, I will return with more information about my experiences that you can pass on to our fellow inventors. My e-mail address is: [email protected] Thank you very much.

Thomas E. Cummings Jr.


Thanks so much for your always informative newsletter. We took your advice about using local advertising and contacted the Nevada Appeal. They sent out a reporter and a photographer to do a little story on My Nute Golf but it hasn't been published yet. We have also been contacted by Dr. Doug Brown of Omaha, Nebraska and Kevin Bertram, so our hopes are up. Sure do wish we'd done market research before hand! Happy Easter!

-- Nancy Thorman-Turner


Paul, this may make for good reading, Several years back I was working in Saudi Arabia on an airport job. (I'm a civil engineer by trade) The wind would blow for days and weeks at a time, they called them "shamals." I was thinking that if you could capture that energy some way and other than propeller-type wind machines that would normally not hold up in this type of environment due to the sand and high winds, this would be something worthwhile. Anyway, I had a dream one nite about wind-mills, crankshafts, gears, etc. I sort of sketched out what the dream told me in terms of how such a device would look like; at first it was hard to sketch out and get the right meaning to the concept, but finally, after much thought I came up with a workable plan, which went like this: If an engine such as an internal combustion engine has so much torque, then why? The answer is "timing." I know gasoline is compressed and ignited and the explosion causes the pistons to drive down, but without "timing" you have an uncontrolled explosion. So figure a way to control the energy of the wind in the same way, at first I called it a "windcrank" because I have figured a way to "time" the wind. Each blade will receive wind energy in a timed sequence, thus supplying 12 impulses of power in one revolution, fixed deflectors at the tip of each blade would act as a booster in start up and also house weights for balance and centrifugal force, an outside deflector would act as a governor to control the r.p.m.'s and also be used as a wind break by moving to a position to equal wind force on both sides of the blades. The outside deflector would deflect wind to the "power" side of the blades and allow the backside of the turning blades to "run" in a no- resistance zone such as a wind sail on a sailboat. The windcrank produces extreme high torque at lower r.p.m.'s than conventional wind mills. I was granted a patent in '89, and since that date I have been trying to find support to build a prototype. This "next" generation wind turbine was nominated and won an advanced technology award in May of '96. One of the distinguished people on the nominating board is Dr. Gordon Gould (inventor of the laser). I'm now 65 and still have hopes of getting my "dream" to market one day. I have had my hopes high many times, only to be let down because the entrepreneur/investor wanted more data that I can't provide until I build the prototype - it's a catch 22......but I won't give up. I'm an inventor and I will invent a way, someday, or find some individual that will have faith in what I'm doing enough to support such a project................

George Sikes


Copyright 1999
Market Launchers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the March 1999 issue.