(c) 2000 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher: Paul Niemann



We've been publishing The Online Inventor since September of 1998, so there's a ton of great info in the back issues, which are stored in the "ARCHIVES" section of our web site, and the price is right (it's free). To catch up on past issues of "THE ONLINE INVENTOR," please go to: http://www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html.

Thanks to each of you who have recommended this newsletter and/or our web site to your fellow inventors. We've noticed that the number of organizations who are referring inventors and companies to us is growing dramatically, enabling us to gain more exposure for our inventor customers, while at the same time attaining the growth that we have come to expect.

We're running a special offer for the month of April for all inventors who are not yet advertising their inventions on our web site: If you advertise your patented or patent-pending invention on our web site by April 30, you'll receive your choice of 2 of these 4 products for FREE:

1)    A 1-year subscription to Inventors' Digest ($27 value)
2)    The book, "Marketing Your Invention" ($22 value)
3)    The book, "How to License Your Million Dollar Idea" ($22 value)
4)    The "Mind to Money" series of booklets and cassettes on inventing. ($40 value)

To fill out the form and have your product seen on the Internet by manufacturers, product scouts, Direct Response TV companies, catalog companies, and other potential licensees, please go to: http://www.marketlaunchers.com/form.html. We're the only web site that is co-branded with the trade journal of the inventor industry, Inventors' Digest.

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann

"An invasion of armies can be resisted but not an idea whose time has come." -- Victor Hugo (I have no idea who Victor Hugo is, but he's become famous because of this quote)

"In gambling, it is often said that you shouldn't bet more than you can afford to lose. In inventing, don't spend more than you can afford to lose because, after all, inventing is a gamble. There's no reason to ever go broke while inventing." -- Paul Niemann (who hopes to be as famous as Victor Hugo someday)


In this issue:

Article # 1:    "Interview with Inventor Sam Montross," inventor of the Twin Doubler.

Article #2:    "Tips on Marketing your Non-Patented Inventions," an interview with Inventor Gary Kellmann.

Article #3:    "Inventor News: Two News Releases for Inventors."


Article # 1:    "Interview with Inventor Sam Montross, inventor of the Twin Doubler."

The following interview is with Sam Montross, who has had incredible success with her first invention, the "Twin Doubler." Sam is now pursuing her other inventions while continuing to market her first product.

Online Inventor: Tell me about your product, Sam.

Sam: It's called the Twin Doubler, and it solves the problem that many people have when they want to sleep with their spouse at a hotel or resort, or want a larger bed, but instead they get stuck with twin beds.

The Twin Doubler buckles 2 twin beds together to form the equivalent of a king-sized bed. The Twin Doubler makes it impossible for the twin beds to separate. A comfortable sheepskin-type of material covers the crevice between the beds. It is 8 inches wide with a belting system that buckles them together. It folds up to the size of a shoebox, it's made of sheepskin material and it's washable and non-allogenic. It costs $49.95 (the original price was $39.95).

We started out selling to the hotel industry, then to cruiseships. We put our label on the product so that people who slept on one at a hotel or cruiseship can order them for their own use at home. And that's what they're doing.

Canyon Ranch Spa (the #1 rated spa in the country) has them available for almost every room.

It's the top selling bedding product in a catalog called, IMPROVEMENTS, which is owned by Hanover Catalog. Hanover then put it in SkyMall (Hanover pays for the ad and gets their percentage), which reaches 25 million viewers every 3 months. Every page is owned by a catalog company, and it costs $5,000 for a 1-page ad.

Online Inventor:    What kind of market research did you do?

We estimated there to be 90 million twin beds out there. To arrive at this figure, we first found out how many twin beds were sold each year and then we calculated the average life span of a twin bed.

I'd recommend going to your trade association to do your research. Every industry has a trade association. The associations didn't have the information we were looking for, but in the process we learned about some of the hospitality associations, so we contacted them. We also contacted the hotel association and went to their tradeshow.

We were naive enough to think our product might win the "Best New Product" award, not realizing we would be going up against products made by multi-million dollar companies such as Braun and Maytag. But entering gave us great exposure.

At the time, there was no market for the Twin Doubler -- until we created a new market by inventing it.

I was in a Strouds' linen store one day when I overheard a customer ask an employee if they had something that would help attach 2 twin beds together. That's when I knew we were on the right track.

Online Inventor: Did you face much resistance along the way? What about rejection? How did you handle that?

SAM: Yes, I showed this to my big brother, who is single, at a family re-union. He didn't get it at first, but all the couples wanted it when they saw it.

The SBDC let me down -- they weren't much help because they only knew high-tech and were only interested in high-tech.

I had to spend a lot of time & money educating consumers, because they didn't know that there was something out there that would do this. The SBDC people said that I could expect to spend around $100,000, and they were right.

So far, enough customers and potential customers have contacted me as a result of our earlier marketing efforts and sales results.

Online Inventor: Did you patent your product?

SAM:    I did patent my product before I brought it to the market. I did my prior art search and did the provisional patent on my own. It took me a while to find the firm that eventually did our patent work. That firm is Express Search, located in Virginia, and they did the rest of the patent work.

At first it was a problem finding a patent firm to do the work, since I live in Silicon Valley, where the patent attorneys all want to work only on high-tech products.

Online Inventor: Did you get any free PR from the media? Any surprises along the way?

SAM:    The PR really applies to what transpired at the trade show. The editors of the trade pubs came by to write about all the new products. They mentioned our product at the keynote address that first night. A lot of people came to our booth the next morning as a result of the keynote address.

Online Inventor: What did you do right? What did you do wrong? What would you do differently next time?

SAM: We had our own 800 number sewn onto our label, so that people can call us when they want to order one. Some places don't allow you to sew your own label on it, so we included a sell sheet (similar to a brochure) as an insert whenever we shipped one to a new customer.

One of the smartest things that we did was to go to the trade show. I was lucky to have a sales rep firm get me into catalogs. If that had not happened, I would have had to make some sales calls. Going to the trade shows was a good decision.

We hired a bunch of college-age interns to work for us, and each intern said that they need these in their dorms. We're still working on establishing the distribution for the campuses. There are so many things to do, and only a limited amount of time in which to do them.

Online Inventor: How much of the packaging and manufacturing did you do yourself?

SAM: All of it. We would ask people in the industry if they moon-light -- that helped us keep our expenses down. Good packaging is very important. On the other hand, bad packaging makes your product look cheap, and makes companies (future customers) wonder if you're going to be around tomorrow.

Online Inventor: Have you started developing additional products for your retail customers?

SAM: Yes, we have 2 more new products for the hotel industry, plus 2 more patents pending. We now have the Double Doubler, as well as another product that allows you to move the headboards together.

Online Inventor: How did you know to produce and sell your product yourself rather than to try to license it?

SAM: We didn't know whether or not companies would want to license the Twin Doubler, and since there wasn't anything like it on the market, there was really no way to test the concept.

Online Inventor: Do you have any advice for other inventors?

SAM: When I don't know the answer to something, I go to the library and do some research.

It isn't always the best product that wins -- it's the one that's marketed the best that wins.

And be open-minded to the opinions and advice of others. Some inventors are afraid of hearing bad news, but you have to look at things objectively.

Online Inventor: Is there a picture of the Twin Doubler that our readers can see on the Internet?

SAM: Yes, the Twin Doubler is at: http://www.chinahorse.com.

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Special thanks to Martha Regan for recommending Sam Montross for this interview. Martha also requested the topic for our next article. If you have a topic that you'd like to see covered in a future issue, just drop us a line or call.


Article #2:    "Tips on Marketing your Non-Patented Inventions," an interview with Inventor Gary Kellmann.

Publisher's note:    There are several key differences between licensing PATENTED products vs. NON-PATENTED products. This interview focuses on licensing products for which you do not have a patent. Gary Kellmann has become an expert in the hair-care products industry, and has been featured in this newsletter before. His products have been sold in over 300 different retail outlets, including Wal-Mart and Claire's Boutiques.

Online Inventor: Tell me about your products.

Gary:    Products that I currently have on the market include:

*    "Hair Holder Holder" -- I can patent it but I'm not going to. It's been on the market for 3 or 4 years now.
*    "Hair Stick M's" -- licensed to a big company called Scunci (through L & N Sales & Marketing)
*    Plus a hair roller concept and a beret concept, being licensed by a company called "Helen of Troy."

Products that are not yet on the market include:

*    Soapasaurus, but I have a company looking at it right now.
*    A hair brush concept -- it's not worth patenting because sales aren't high enough to make it worthwhile to get a patent. The product organizes bobby-pins.

Online Inventor: How do you avoid having your products stolen from companies? Has that happened to you?

Gary:    I build relationships with these companies. That's why it helps if you can become an expert in your industry. You should continue showing more product concepts to them, and they'll value you more. Get to know them. It might take a year or so to build a decent relationship.

I had one product stolen, even though it was patented. It was stolen by an Asian manufacturer overseas -- a product called "Belly Buttons," which is jewelry worn in the bellybutton. Teenage girls use them as an alternative to getting their navels pierced.

Have the sign a confidentiality agreement. Keep a journal of every conversation you have with the company. If they're going to steal a product, then they'll steal it whether it's patented or not. That's one of the reasons to build a decent relationship with companies -- to lower the chances of having an invention stolen.

Online Inventor: What's been the biggest difference in the results you've had with licensing PATENTED products vs. NON-PATENTED products?

Gary:    The main difference is that you get a better royalty deal if your product is patented or at least patent-pending.

Online Inventor: What can an inventor do in order to increase his/her chances of having a non-patented product being licensed?

Gary:    Have them sign a Confidentiality Agreement (either theirs or yours), keep a journal, and build a relationship with the companies that you want to show your products to.

Online Inventor: How did you know to produce and sell your product yourself rather than to try to license it?

Gary:    Look at how many line extensions you can get from your main product. If you can get a lot of extensions or variations from your main product, then you may want to consider having it manufactured yourself, especially if the manufacturing cost is low. Also look at how tough it is to make sales for the product. Unless you have a revolutionary product, you're usually better off licensing it to a company.

Also, you want to consider how tough it is to get into a certain industry -- the tougher it is to enter the industry, the better off you are to license it to a company that's already established in that industry.

Online Inventor: How much of the packaging and manufacturing do you do yourself?

Gary:    I do a lot of the pre-production prototype work, and then I take it to an engineer or manufacturer for the final steps.

Online Inventor: How do you get free PR from the media?

Gary:    Have a good product that trade pubs like, one that solves a problem. Timing is important -- have the right product at the right time that people want.

Online Inventor: What advice do you have for other inventors?

Gary:    Become an expert in the industry that you're inventing in -- then you'll understand timing, you can build relationships in your industry, you'll know which companies will try to knock you off, you reduce your amount of risk because of the knowledge you've attained. It takes about a year to become an expert in an industry.

# # # #

Gary has been interviewed for a number of articles, most recently in the New York Times for an article explaining how inventors use the Internet to help them. Our previous interview with Gary Kellmann can be read in the September 1998 edition of The Online Newsletter, available in the Archives section of our web site.


Article #3:    "Inventor News: Two News Releases for Inventors."

The following two news releases came to me recently via e-mail:

1.    HOT Patent Legislation News From Inventors' Digest:

March 24, 2000


Item #1:  New Bill Introduced to Guarantee PTO Keeps All Its revenues.

On Thursday, March 23, the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property approved on a voice vote H.R. 4034, "U.S. Patent and Trademark Reauthorization Act," which was introduced by Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) on March 20. This bill would amend section 43 of title 35 to permit PTO access to all feels collected without prior authorization in appropriation Acts. It is expected that H.R. 4034 will go to the Judiciary Committee soon for a vote.

For the last ten years, millions of dollars of PTO revenue have been siphoned off to the general budget. The PTO is TOTALLY fee funded so the "siphoning" means that your patent fees have been used to support other agencies and other federal programs.

You are urged to support this legislation which will guarantee that the U.S. PTO keep all of the revenues which it collects. If your representative is on the House Judiciary Committee, contact him or her and urge his or her support.

Item #2:  The story behind the patent bill

Check out the April issue of Fortune Small Business (www.fsb.com) which contains an article by Ed Robinson titled, "They Saved Small Business." It details the story of how last year's patent legislation was changed and why … it's an inside peek into how Washington works and Bob and Joanne Rines are credited with the changes that were made.

Item #3:  IPO Inventor of the Year nominations deadline April 12, 2000. Go to http://www.ipo.org for more info.

Item #4:  The USPTO published a notice asking for public comments on the proposed Patent Law Treaty to be negotiated by the World Intellectual Property Organization from May 11 to June 2. The treaty simplifies formal requirements for obtaining patents. The notice is on USPTO web site: http://www.uspto.gov

-- Joanne Hayes-Rines, editor of Inventors' Digest: http://www.inventorsdigest.com



PITTSBURGH, PA -- March 28, 2000 -- The fromUSAlive.com, Internet TV Network, officially premiered Inventors Insider today. Accessible at http://www.InventorsInsider.com, Inventors Insider is a weekly, on-demand Internet TV program which covers the invention process from idea to patent, and offers a solid resource for anyone who wants to make his or her dream a reality.

Each week, host Randy Notzen, a member of the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Law Association, interviews industry insiders and legal experts about issues such as e-commerce, national club and organization membership, and the royalties one should expect.

Randy, who has been admitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the US Patent and Trademark Office, has been a patent attorney for 10 years.

Through Inventors Insider, Randy and a guest offer views of the challenges and legal implications facing inventors in the 21st Century. They focus in-depth examination on topics such as patent legislation, product agents, trade shows, intellectual property, prior art, and the effect of the Internet on the invention process. By watching the episodes, inventors can find out how to protect their ideas and how to make money with overviews on marketing a product and courting a manufacturer's inventor relations department.

"Inventors Insider offers an invaluable service to those trying to break into the inventing process," said D.J. Zelczak, producer of the show. "We've found that most inventors don't want to see a show about other inventors, but would like to get a legal perspective," he said. "So we try to give the typical inventor or small business owner enough information to know what the process is all about. We don't give out specific legal advice, but we do
explain how intellectual property law works."

Plans for future shows include segments on national-level law association meetings, trade magazine publishers, and inventors' advocacy groups. The shows are presented on-demand, which means the audience can access any episode at any time by clicking on http://www.InventorsInsider.com.

fromUSAlive.com is an Internet TV network that offers unique, episodic, on-demand programming, which provides to advertisers a clearly defined audience for each of its programs. A short demonstration Internet TV presentation can be seen at http://www.fromUSAlive.com/trailer. For more information, email [email protected] or go to http://www.fromUSAlive.com.

CONTACT: Molijane Gillespie, Technimedia Inc., (412) 967-2700 ext. 3081,
[email protected]

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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 me an e-mail or give me a call. To view past issues of the "The Online Inventor," please go to http://www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html. Thanks.

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann;
Humble Proprietor of Market Launchers
(800) 337-5758
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 2000
All Rights Reserved


Copyright (c) 2000
Market Launchers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the February 2000 issue.