(c) 2001 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher: Paul Niemann



"There's No Crying in Baseball," -- Tom Hanks, in the movie "A League of Their Own"

"Build It and They Will Come," -- Kevin Costner, in the movie "Field of Dreams"


Article # 1: "The Five Point Master Plan for Inventors," by Jack Lander of InventorHelp.com

Article # 2: "Publicity Campaigns: How Many Hours? How Many Months?" by Todd Brabender -- President of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.

Article #3: "Use the Internet to Research Your Industry, to Conduct a Preliminary Patent Search, and to License Your Inventions," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com


Article # 1: "The Five Point Master Plan for Inventors," by Jack Lander of InventorHelp.com 

First-time inventors usually make the mistake of rushing to protect their invention with a patent before they have determined whether it can be commercialized. This makes as much sense as buying insurance on a home you don't own, but only hope to buy. It's the wrong first step for the independent inventor.

For most of us of average means, it makes more sense to first get an objective professional evaluation of our invention's commercial potential. I recommend the evaluation program sponsored by Southwest Missouri State University. The university has no hidden agenda; its only objective is to give you the fairest and least expensive evaluation possible. Its 41-point assessment costs less than $250.

If the evaluation comes back positive (recommending that you proceed), the next step is to have a patent search made, and get a patentability opinion from a patent attorney or patent agent. Again, unless you own your invention, there is no sense in spending money for a prototype or applying for a patent. For example, you will often find that someone else has beat you to the patent office, and that person owns the invention. I seldom make a prototype for anyone that
is less than $500, and some of them cost as much as $3,000. This is money thrown away if you won't be able to get your patent. The patent search and opinion will typically cost from $500 to $1000. Insist that your agent or attorney, who will handle the search and write the opinion, gives you a definite idea of how probable it will be that your application will result in a strong patent. Anyone can obtain a weak patent. These are worthless.

Armed with positive results from the two steps above, the next step is to have a prototype made. The prototype often reveals seemingly minor features that become the essence of your patent. Like a tiny pebble in one's shoe, such features can become a source of major annoyance to your competitors -- and profit to you.

Now, after getting a functional prototype made (or making it yourself), you are ready to file your patent application. You can find a patent agent or patent attorney in your area by going to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office web site at http://www.uspto.gov; Searchable Data Bases; Attorneys and Agents; then, scroll down, and search by your state. 

Patent agents are significantly less expensive than patent attorneys, and have to pass the same Patent Office test to become licensed. They can't represent you in court, however, but you never, never, never want to have to defend your patent in court. Unless you're very rich. Both agents and attorneys must have a degree in one of the technical disciplines, such as electrical or mechanical engineering, chemistry, etc. Pick one who has the right degree for your invention. For most inventions this is a mechanical engineering degree. 

Do not use the yellow pages to select an attorney or agent. First of all, unlike the Patent Office web site, the yellow pages do not distinguish between agents and attorneys. Secondly, many scams advertise patenting services therein. They act as agents, and generally subcontract to "patent mills" that turn out poorly prepared patent applications. And, these "services" lead you into an expensive and unproductive marketing program after they take your money for a weak or worthless patent. 

The last step after (and only after) your application has been accepted by the Patent Office is to begin the process of marketing, that is, of seeking a licensee who will pay you a royalty on each unit sold. A reasonable place to find potential licensees is The Thomas Register, which is at all libraries. The Thomas Register lists nearly all manufacturers in the United States. These are your candidates. However, job shops (manufacturers who produce to their customer's specification, and don't have their own proprietary products) are listed along with companies like 3M that makes many products of their own. 

Use The Thomas Register to create your list, and then weed out the job shops by researching each company in other references, such as Standard & Poors, Dun & Bradstreet, etc. These directories are also at your library. 

In summary then, these are the five steps. Work them in this order. This will get you the "most bang for the buck."

1. Evaluate commercial potential (use SMSU, not your mother).*
2. Determine patentability (search plus opinion).
3. Have a professional prototype made. 
4. Take your prototype to your patent agent or attorney, and have him or 
her file your patent application (but only if steps 1 & 2 were favorable).
5. Locate and negotiate with potential licensees.

* Phone Southwest Missouri State Univ. at 417-836-5671. Or visit their web site at http://www.innovation-institute.com 

There are many other details that "flesh out" these bare bones, of course. And many excellent books and condensed reports are available to provide you with money-saving guidance. For example, you may not succeed in licensing your patent until it issues because the licensee has no guarantee of how strong the patent will be, or if it will even issue until it is in your hands. Only about two out of three applications result in an issued patent. (See how important that patentability opinion is?) It may be best to wait until it issues before contacting potential licensees. Etc., etc.

I am always available by e-mail to answer a question or two. Contact me at [email protected]

# # # #

Jack Lander is an inventor with 13 patents. He is the President and Vice President of two highly respected, nonprofit national inventor organizations. He operates The Inventor's Bookstore at http://www.inventorhelp.com and is a professional prototyper.

Call or e-mail him for a free catalog if the Internet is not convenient. Jack can be reached at 203-792-1377, or [email protected] 


At CPO Direct our name conveys our mission -- cost per order. We are a direct response media management agency specializing in planning, negotiating, buying and back-end analysis of short and long-form DRTV, radio, newspaper, magazine and Internet advertising. Strategic services include complete direct response campaign development and execution.

Contact Joyce Cusack at (312) 396-8748 or e-mail her at [email protected] 


Publicity Campaigns: How Many Hours? How Many Months?
By Todd Brabender -- President / Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.

When it comes to generating publicity for a product, business or web site, one of the hardest decisions entrepreneurs have to make is whether to launch the campaign themselves. What makes it tough is trying to determine the amount of time it might take to launch and maintain a successful publicity campaign. This article will help address a couple of those critical elements: the length of your publicity efforts, and the respective number of hours it may take to get the job done effectively.

In my PR career, I have launched campaigns that needed the blast of just a few weeks of publicity and I have also maintained lengthy campaigns that generated media exposure for years. From my professional experience, I can tell you that a single distribution of a media release is rarely effective.

Most times, editors and reporters are working on multiple stories at once and need some time to consider your pitch. Although your release may indeed be interesting and newsworthy, the editor may simply not have the space to use your pitch at that point in the media outlet's editorial calendar. So make sure he/she sees it again when that editorial calendar opens up a few weeks down the line. Keep in mind also that because media outlets receive so many media releases and story pitches these days, it can sometimes take them weeks before they actually get to something you may have sent their way. That's why it's important to conduct extensive media follow-ups over the course of several months to ensure media reception, proper media digestion and hopefully media acceptance of your release or pitch.

I tell my clients, "No PR agency or publicist in the world can FORCE the media to use their releases, but they CAN make sure that by the end of the campaign, the media has seen or heard about your message in one form or another -- which will lead to solid media coverage."

One of the keys to determining the length of a successful campaign is knowing when you have fired all your publicity bullets; when it's time to re-pack the chambers with new ammo; or when you should move onto other marketing targets. Over the past several years, here's how the campaign lengths have broken down for my clients:

1-2 month campaigns : 9%
3-6 month campaigns: 46%
6-9 month campaigns: 29%
9+ month campaigns: 16%

* 1 -- 2 month campaigns are most often timely, date-sensitive campaigns -- a release or message tied to a current event that may be outdated in 6 -- 8 weeks. A while back, one client of mine quickly produced a web site aimed at stopping Napster's file sharing services. We launched a campaign a few weeks before the Supreme Court ruling and generated some great spot coverage in newspapers and TV news shows nationwide -- the site and the campaign were finished in 6 weeks. 

* Most new product publicity campaigns are best suited for the 3 -- 6 month time frame -- allowing for the often drawn out lead-times of some media outlets. Having said that though, some product campaigns can be extended for several more months based on media reaction and subsequent consumer interest. For instance, the "scooter" product publicity campaign likely started out as a six-month program, but that was stretched out over a year because of the sales fervor and popularity of the product.

* The longest campaigns are for those clients whose businesses or expertise are "evergreen and regenerative" -- meaning they are not tied to the shelf life of a new product launch; aren't linked to a specific date; and can be re-stoked for a new round of media interest every few months. One of my longtime clients is a "tradeshow specialist." Her expert advice is newsworthy anytime of year and can be covered editorially year after year -- especially in business and trade magazines. That lends itself to multiple articles and features month after month in a wide array of media outlets. Remember -- creativity and media pitching ingenuity can help add months of success to your publicity campaign.

A large number of hours will be spent planning and shaping your publicity campaign for the media market. The preparation of the media market research and the polishing of the media release may seem painstaking, but when done right, they are well worth the effort. After the initial launch of the campaign, be prepared to spend at least an hour or two each day maintaining it: conducting numerous media follow-ups and making new media pitches, (emails, faxes, mailings and phone calls); fulfilling media requests (forwarding product photos, media kits/product samples, arranging interviews) and tracking/clipping articles and features.

Here's a brief rundown on the number of hours that may be involved in a typical campaign:
(These hours are averaged estimates. Many PR specialists might be able to get the work done more efficiently for you.)

Media Release Writing/Editing: 5 hours
Media Market Research: 15 hours
Media Distribution: 10 hours

CAMPAIGN MAINTENANCE: 30+ hours /month
(3-Month Campaign) (90 hours)
TOTAL CAMPAIGN HOURS: 120+ work hours

If you have the time, staff and expertise to launch your own campaign, then take advantage of the media and get your message to them. But if your expertise lies in another area, and you or your staff lack publicity generating skills (or have little or no experience in dealing with the media) it might be best to hand it off to someone who can make sure its done right -- the first time. Ask yourself these questions when deciding whether you can handle your own publicity campaign:

* Do I have the expertise and time to get it done effectively without hampering my current workload or that of my staff? 
* Do I have the writing capabilities to put together a media release or feature pitch to which editors, reporters and producers will respond?
* Do I have the resources to conduct the media research and distribute my release to those media outlets?

If you answered "yes" to all, not just some of these questions, then perhaps you can benefit from launching your own publicity campaign. Best of luck!

# # # #

Todd Brabender is the President of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc. His business specializes in generating publicity & media exposure for innovative products / businesses / web sites. http://www.spreadthenewspr.com (785) 842-8909 [email protected] 


Gary Kellmann is looking for new products created by individual inventors in the hair-care and beauty industries:

* Health and beauty
* Costume jewelry and fine jewelry
* All types of cosmetics from nail polish to lipstick concepts.

Concepts should have utility patents pending, applied for, or issued. To submit your product for consideration, please fill out the form at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/garykellmann.html.


Article #3: "Use the Internet to Research Your Industry, to Conduct a Preliminary Patent Search, and to License Your Inventions," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com

Earlier this year, I became a columnist for Inventors' Digest. Since my columns are on Internet issues, I decided to write an article for you which gives detailed advice on ways you can use the Internet in your research and marketing efforts. This article contains excerpts from previous articles that I wrote for Inventors' Digest magazine and discusses 3 things that will help you.

When I use the term "research" in this article, I'm referring to market research (where you find out if there's a market for your product) as well as patent research (where you find out if any identical products have already been patented). Not mentioned in this article is the concept of customer research (where you determine if your potential customers are likely to purchase your product). The article finishes by explaining how you can use your own web page or web site to help you in your sales or licensing efforts. When it comes to conducting patent searches, you should still get a lawyer to help you when necessary. This article is NOT intended to serve as legal advice.


In order to learn about some of the main companies in your industries, you can start by going to any of the major search engines, such as Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite, Alta Vista, etc., and typing in the keywords that describe your invention. For example, if you've created a bread slicer, you would enter the phrase "bread slicer" or "kitchen appliances." 

The web sites of companies in your industry will show up in your search, and many will have either their phone numbers or e-mail addresses on their sites. At this point, you can click on any of these companies to research them further. 

The most relevant sites are listed at the top -- usually only the top 10 or 20 actually receive visitors from any one search. The search results are determined by the keywords that you enter. The web site's web designer is responsible for entering the keywords into the site and registering it with the search engines. 

Next, go to the web sites of the main trade publications and industry associations in your industry. For example, if you've invented a housewares product, then visit www.housewares.org. If you've created a new automotive accessory, then you could start by visiting www.autonews.com. Trade publications and industry associations are an excellent source of information on companies for ANY industry, and you can sometimes get a free copy of the trade publication, along with a directory of members' names (but not always, as some trade pubs do not give out their members' names) if you let them know that you're considering advertising in their publication. Just ask them to send you a media kit. 

Then do a search for companies or product scouts who are looking for new products in your industry. This is different from doing a search on a search engine. Instead, you'll want to go to web sites that list companies or product scouts who are looking for new products. These include Inventors' Digest (www.InventorsDigest.com), as well as our own MarketLaunchers web site (www.MarketLaunchers.com), plus the PatentCafe web site (www.PatentCafe.com).

Also, you can check the sites of companies in your industry to see if they accept product submissions. Some will have a submission form right there on their web site. One such company is National Presto (www.GoPresto.com), a well-known manufacturer of kitchen appliances. Another excellent source of companies looking for new products is the DRTV (Direct-Response TV) industry. They rely on outside inventors for a high percentage of the products they sell. The trade pub for this industry is Response Magazine (www.ResponseMag.com) and if you have a DRTV-type product, you can learn a lot about this industry -- such as which types of products are selling best and which companies are selling them -- by reading through their web site and their trade pub. Again, you want to avoid the mistake of neglecting to do your research before patenting your invention. 

Finally, decide which companies in your industry you think would make good licensees for your product. Then set a goal to contact a certain number of them each week. Stick to it and remember to focus your efforts on those things that you can control, such as the number of contacts you make each week. The effort must be there in order to get the results that you want. 


Since there's too much involved in a preliminary patent search to mention it all in this article, we'll cover some of the more important points here. If you've never done any patent research on the Internet before, then your best bet is to just jump in and get started, and you will learn as you go.

There are several web sites that allow you to search the U.S. patent files. The U.S. patent office's web site at www.uspto.gov, Patent Café's IP search engine at www.ipsearchengine.com and the Delphion patent server (formerly known as the IBM patent server) at www.delphion.com, are 3 of the more common ones.

You can search the U.S. patent files for free at any of these 3 sites. In addition, IPsearchengine.com and Delphion.com offer additional services on a fee basis. IPsearchengine.com also allows you to search foreign offices and non-patent sources. Non-patent sources include university theses and other defensive technical disclosures, such as post-grad research papers, government tech journals, including NASA, plus technical briefs (disclosures) to prevent others from patenting their work. It also shows foreign patents. The Delphion site has Technical Disclosure Bulletins. 

In this example, we used the U.S. PTO site, which covers patents issued since 1970. Our search was on "dog whistles." Go to their site and click on "Patents," then click on "Search Patents" and then "Quick Search." You can substitute "dog whistles" for whatever product you want to research.

The results only showed one match; it is Patent # 6,109,202, called a "Combination whistle." There are 8 other previous patents, known as prior art, that reference it, though. First, read through the Abstract of the "Combination whistle," then scan through the "Claims" and the "Description" of the patent. 

Next, we click on one of the other 8 U.S. Patent Documents listed, starting with the oldest one. When you click on any of these previous patents, you will notice that they each reference other previous patents. 

A patent document references a number of patents in that class as prior art, so check out these prior art patents to find other patents that are similar to what you're looking for. It's like a tree that branches out, and you keep searching until you find patents that are similar to yours. To view any of the listed patents, just click on its hyperlink.

If you find a product similar to yours, but yet yours contains features that would complement but not compete with that product, then you might want to contact the inventor to ask him if he was able to license it successfully. If he was able to license it, then ask him if he will tell you the name and contact person of the company that licensed it, and you should then contact that company as well. Inventors will usually help out fellow inventors, as long as they don't see your improvement as a threat to their invention. 

The patent document gives the name and address of the inventor. You can call directory assistance for his phone number. (On a separate but related note, there was an article in the paper recently about an inventor trying to license his invention. The article gave all the important details about what a great product he had, but the inventor had an unlisted phone number, which made it impossible for any companies to contact him. If you want potential licensees to call you about licensing one of your inventions, be sure to have a listed phone number so they can look you up.) 

Some patents will list the assignee, which is who the patent was assigned to. This means that the inventor was working for the company (the assignee), rather than for himself. This should be one of the first companies you call, because they are in your industry and they make or sell your type of product. 

If your patent search reveals that there is a product so similar to yours that you won't be able to get a patent, then you know you've hit a dead end and can stop. You may want to have a patent agent or attorney confirm this, then preserve your time, effort and resources for your next great product idea. If your patent search reveals no such products, however, then you can choose to either apply for a patent or have a patent attorney or agent perform a more refined search, in case you failed to uncover prior art that would prevent you from getting a patent on your product. You should do this only if your research has indicated that there is a willing and ready market for your product -- otherwise you may be throwing money at a product that has no hopes of succeeding. This is a mistake that far too many inventors make.

Be patient, as you may have to search through 30 or more patents to find what you're looking for. In the next issue, learn how to use the Internet to increase your chances of finding a licensee for your inventions.


When I talk about ways to use the Internet to sell your product or increase your chances of finding a licensee, the best way is to get a web SITE or a web PAGE. Building your own web SITE is the way to go when you have a product(s) that you manufacture and sell yourself. Getting a web PAGE on another company's web site is appropriate when you're trying to find a company to license your invention to. If you don't know how to build a web site or web page, read on anyway, because you can always hire someone to build one for you. This article talks about getting a web PAGE on another company's web site; if you want info on building your own web SITE to sell product(s) that you manufacture and sell yourself, you can receive the article, "Eight Things to Look for When Building a Web Site" by sending me an e-mail with the words "Eight Things" in the subject line. 

Getting a web page on another company's web site enables you to have pictures and a description of your invention on the Internet where interested companies can see it. There are two ways to do this: You can get a page on a site that specializes in building web pages for inventors, and has a listing of inventions available for license. These types of sites are already set up to receive a high number of the types of visitors that you want -- manufacturers, product scouts and other potential licensees. Plus, most web sites of this type will build your web page for you, which is much quicker than learning how to build one yourself. Examples of this type of site include InventionConnection.com, Invent-Invest.com as well as our own MarketLaunchers.com. 

The other way to advertise your invention on another company's site is to use a site that offers a "free" web page. These include Geocities, Free Yellow and others. There are three disadvantages to this option, though. First, they usually require you to place a large banner ad at the top of your page, and this banner advertises someone else's products. These banners are distracting, and they hurt your efforts to promote your invention. Second, you may still have to build the page yourself, even if they do host it for free. Plus, if another company buys out that web site, your "free" web page could be in jeopardy, even if you've spent time promoting it. Finally, most of the sites that offer a free web page are not inventor-related sites and, as a result, do not focus on attracting the types of companies that look for new products. 

One exception to my complaint of the sites that offer a free web page, however, is when it's an inventor group that offers to give a free page to its members. Inventor groups are inventor-related sites, which is good; one thing to consider, though, is whether or not very many manufacturers actually visit the site. If you advertise your invention on your invention group's web site, you can still advertise it on another company's site or build your own site. 

If you've already spent $3,000 - $5,000 or more on a patent, and your market research suggests that your product is likely to succeed, then it makes sense to invest a little money in getting a web page. The following "pro's and con's" apply when you're considering advertising on a site that specializes in building web pages for inventors, and has a listing of inventions available for license, instead of getting a page on the so-called free sites: 


* Most of these companies will build your page for you.
* They promote their site with companies who are looking for new products. At the very least, they should be registered with the main search engines, so that companies can find the site and find YOUR product. 
* They either provide your name and number to interested companies who request information on your product or allow you to have your name and contact info on your page. For privacy or security reasons, some people prefer to NOT publish their own name and phone number on the Internet. 
* Advertising your invention on another company's site allows you to piggy-back on a well-established site, rather than having to start from scratch, and allows potential licensees instant access to your invention. Why re-invent the wheel if you don't have to?


* You don't get your own domain name. Instead, your web address will be an extension of their domain name. For example, your name would be something like www.widgets.com/YourPage.html, where you have a page on the www.widgets.com web site. 

The old adage, "You get what you pay for" appears to be true in this case, as the pro's far outnumber the con's. Finally, be sure to direct companies to your web page (which can be used as your "online brochure") when you contact them about your invention. 

So there you have it -- three great ways to use the Internet: To research your industry, to conduct a preliminary patent search and to license your inventions. Keep this article handy, so that when the time comes to consider using the Internet to promote your inventions, you'll be able to make a well-informed decision, and get the most bang for your buck.


When it comes to marketing your business or products, one of the biggest challenges you'll face is getting the word out to prospective customers:

"I have a great product, but no one knows about it! How can I get the word out without spending thousands of dollars on advertising."

Spread The News specializes in generating publicity and media exposure for innovative businesses, products, inventions & web sites. They can create consumer/industry awareness about innovative new products or promote established businesses that may be under-publicized. Spread The News' publicity campaigns help create coverage in a wide variety of media outlets including: daily & weekly newspapers; general circulation & trade specific magazines; TV/radio/cable shows & newscasts; online e-zines & news sites.

Spread The News' technologically advanced PR office has benefited clients from New York to California and Canada to Mexico. FREE Publicity Consultations are offered to help entrepreneurs see how they can use the ever-expanding media markets to further their business efforts.

Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.
(785) 842-8909
[email protected] 


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 month, Successful Inventing To You! 

Best Regards,

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

Copyright 1998 -- 2001
All Rights Reserved


Copyright 1999 -- 2001 
Market Launchers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the July 2001 issue.